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When Should I Bump Test?

A bump test – also known as a “periodic function test” – is a simple test performed on portable gas monitors to ensure that they’re working properly. Although modern gas detection technology is incredibly accurate and sensitive, the humble bump test remains a crucial part of ensuring safety in environments where hazardous gases may be present.

Despite this, bump testing is often overlooked. That’s why we’ve put together this quick guide to bump testing: what it is, why it’s important, and how often you should be doing it.

Gas Hazards in Industry

Gas hazards are a part of daily life in many industries: oil refineries, wastewater treatment plants, and petrochemical storage facilities, to name a few. People working in environments such as these rely on personal gas monitoring equipment to detect certain gases and warn them if concentrations start to exceed safe levels.

Hazardous gases present serious risks including explosion, poisoning, and asphyxiation. This means that for industries that deal with hazardous gases, ensuring the effectiveness of gas monitoring equipment is essential for the wellbeing of their personnel.

The Importance of Testing

There are two parts to making sure gas monitoring equipment is working as it should: calibration and bump testing.

Several potential issues can only be detected by a bump test. So, performing this test is crucial because it rules out problems that would not be detected by a calibration check, for example, the device may be correctly calibrated, but the ‘unsafe’ concentration may have been incorrectly defined. Alternatively, an alarm speaker may be broken or blocked.

So, now for the golden question:

How Often Should You Bump Test Your Portable Gas Monitors?

Bump testing can often be overlooked. Bump testing requires minimal training and takes around 30 seconds to carry out in most cases. It is true that there is no legal requirement to bump test equipment, however, the BSIF, ISEA and Air Products all recommend doing so each day before use.1,2

Check out our bump test tutorial video to see just how simple it is.

Gas for Bump Testing

A reliable supply of your target gas(es) is essential for bump testing and having these to hand when you need them can make bump testing even quicker and easier. Air Products’ range of specialty gases deliver traceable and stable mixtures in a wide range of portable canisters designed for convenient testing and calibration. Our non-refillable canisters are the ideal compromise between gas capacity and portability, and our highly precise gas mixes come with certificates of analysis as standard.

References and Further Reading

  1. BSIF - Bump Testing. Available at: http://www.bsif.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Bump-Test-Every-Time-0318.pdf. (Accessed: 19th June 2020)
  2. ISEA Statement on Validation of Operation For Direct Reading Portable Gas Monitors. https://safetyequipment.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/calibration_statement-2010-Mar4.pdf (Accessed: 19th June 2020)


"Our business relies on simple bump testing of gas detectorson board marine vessels. Complex high pressure cylinders and regulators would make the job too difficult but we find the Air Products non-refillable offerings very easy to use and the equipment is simple to operate."

GMS Instruments, Rotterdam

"We are involved in the installation, commissioning and maintenance of a wide range of gas detection equipment into many market sectors. The fact that the Air Products’ range covers all of the flammable, toxic, quad-gas and corrosive gas requirements for this market is very important to us."

Autochim, France

"Personal, portable and fixed gas detection equipment is widely used in many safety critical applications and these items are often subjected to relatively harsh environments and working conditions. The gas sensing element within this equipment is perhaps the most fragile and crucial component, and if this was to fail, it would render the equipment useless. The selection of appropriate test gas is important to ensure the bump test is carried out correctly and as an active member of CoGDEM, Air Products know about it. They have contributed to the CoGDEM Guide to Gas Detection, a new hardback reference book which explains best practice and aids the selection of suitable test gases and equipment."

Leigh Greenham, Director, CoGDEM

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