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Care & Maintenance of Laboratory Equipment

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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sarah Friedl

Sarah has two Master's, one in Zoology and one in GIS, a Bachelor's in Biology, and has taught college level Physical Science and Biology.

The equipment used in a laboratory is essential to any projects, experiments, and activities being performed there. This equipment must be properly maintained and cared for, which is the focus of this lesson.

Laboratory Equipment Needs Care

You know that your car is a machine that requires maintenance and care. You have to change the oil, top off fluids, tighten bolts, and keep it clean in order for it to run well and last a long time. Laboratory equipment is no different! In order for your equipment to work, you need to properly care for and maintain it as well. So, in this lesson we're going to talk about how to do just this, specifically for microscopes, thermometers, and pH meters because they are so common in the laboratory. This proper care and maintenance will help you keep your lab equipment up and running as long as possible.

Care & Maintenance of Microscopes

One of the most common pieces of laboratory equipment is the microscope, so it makes sense to start there. Microscopes are very useful, but they are also very expensive, so it's in everyone's best interest to properly care for them. Here are some basic tips to keep in mind for the microscopes in your lab:

  • Cover the microscope when not in use to prevent it from getting dirty or damaged.
  • Only clean the microscope with approved materials to prevent scratching the lenses (such as Kimwipes or optical wipes).
  • Inspect the microscope periodically; this will ensure that repairs are made in a timely matter and prevent any damages from getting worse.
  • Keep the microscope away from any extreme heat or cold sources, and avoid using hazardous chemicals around the microscope.
  • If the microscope must be moved, carry it with two hands to prevent dropping it or hitting another object.
  • Replace any damaged parts on the microscope using only the correct parts from an approved supplier.

A lot of these tips may sound like common sense and, in general, they are. But these tips will help keep your microscope from being damaged over either the short- or long-term and keep you working happily away!

Care & Maintenance of Thermometers

Let's next move to thermometers, another very common piece of laboratory equipment. You may not think that thermometers require a lot of care, but because they are glass and many are filled with mercury, they can quickly turn from a basic and useful tool to a dangerous one. In general, some rules to follow for proper care and use of thermometers involve the following:

  • Store thermometers in a proper location; don't leave them sitting on the edge of a counter where they can be knocked off and broken.
  • Do not use a thermometer as a stirring device - instead use a stirrer!
  • Keep thermometers away from open flames.
  • When inserting a thermometer into a container or stopper hole, do so carefully to avoid breaking it.
  • Keep the thermometer away from any extreme heat or cold sources to avoid damage or breakage.
  • Wash thermometers after each use to avoid contamination and dirt buildup.

Thermometers in general don't require a lot of maintenance, but they do need to be used properly to prevent them from damage or breaking.

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