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My GC Detector Flame Won’t Light

Although modern GC systems generally make lighting FID flames a straightforward exercise, if your basic settings aren’t correct you can still get significant problems. Try the following tips :

  1. Before switching on gases, set the temperature of the detector and allow to equilibrate for at least 30mins after reaching operating temperature. This ensures all surfaces are hot and dry, creating the right environment to maintain the flame.

  2. Turn the makeup gas off until flame is lit and established.

  3. Ensure the correct ratio of hydrogen to air (as recommended by your manufacturer) is set on the system. If unsure a good starting point is 1(hydrogen) : 10 (air) e.g. 30ml/min hydrogen : 300ml/min air.

    Don’t assume that the instrument is actually delivering these flows – check the flow for all gases. Many instruments allow you to enter the required flow even if the cylinder isn't capable of delivering that amount and will still try to ignite the flame.

  4. If flame still doesn’t light try reducing the amount of air in the flame (e.g. to 150ml/min) until the flame lights. Once lit gradually ramp the air flow back up to the optimal flowrate to achieve 1:10.

  5. After the flame is established, gradually ramp up the flow of the makeup gas to the working flow (usually 20 – 30ml/min).


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