Plant Machine Care & Cleaning Guide

This article covers the essential care, maintenance and cleaning of your air compressors and suction pumps within the dental practice.


Plant Machine Care & Cleaning Guide

All dental practices must be kept clean and hygienic. To achieve this, the practice must meet very specific regulations and guidelines.

Monthly maintenance of your plant machinery is essential for consistent operation, which can be carried out by specially instructed practice staff. Although, yearly servicing will need to be performed by qualified and experienced engineers.

Regular Care and Maintenance of Air Compressors

You should always refer to the operator’s handbook before carrying out any work. These can be found online from the manufacturer’s website.

Prior to carrying out any servicing operation make sure to wear:

  • Disposable gloves
  • Eye protection
  • Mask
  • Protective clothing / overalls

The machine should be disconnected from the power and flammable or corrosive liquids and materials should not be present within the same room.

Check the Room Temperature

Keep in mind that the effectiveness of the air-drying system is reduced with temperatures in excess of 35⁰C. If no air is being consumed, the compressor should not activate. If this happens, check the system and any instruments connected to the system for air leaks.

The charging time is approximately 45 – 55 seconds, whilst the down time (to regenerate the drying column and allow for cooling) should be approximately 1/3 of the charging time.

Careful monitoring of the system prolongs the life of the machine as small problems can be realised and rectified before they become large or catastrophic problems.

Listen for Abnormal Sounds or Vibrations

If the machine starts to make abnormal sounds or vibrations, it can mean something is loose or worn. In this case, contact our service department.

Cleaning Key Components

If the compressor is installed in an environment where it is subject to large amounts of dust and other debris, the cooling fans of the compressor pump, the electric motor and the air-to-air heat exchanger should be cleaned frequently by blowing out with clean compressed air.

Replace the Air Intake Filters

The compressor air intake filters will need to be replaced more frequently in such an environment as above.

Check the Cooling Fans are Functioning Correctly

Every 12 months, the efficiency and effectiveness of the cooling fans should be checked as the compressor cannot withstand extended periods of time with inadequate ventilation.

Check for Moisture

Periodically open the tap located under the compressor tank and check if any moisture is present. If so, contact our service department for further advice, we can even advise you on a video call through WhatsApp.

Yearly Servicing of Air Compressors

Annual maintenance must be carried out by a trained engineer using manufacturer’s service kits and special test and analysis instruments.

For surgeries working an average of 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, maintenance checks every 6-12 months is sufficient provided that the compressor is also monitored and maintained by a trained member of staff.

The service technician must only use genuine spare parts, must not alter the operation nor modify the machine or in particular, the safety devices.

Most importantly, any weld or alteration to the compressor tank is strictly forbidden.

Before attempting any maintenance on the compressor, isolate the power to the machine by unplugging it from the electrical supply socket and ensure nobody restores the power without informing the person in charge of the maintenance.

If the isolation point is not able to be monitored visually, then an appropriate lockout device should be installed.

Release enough pressure to start a cycle. Ensure that with each charge the compressor reaches the maximum pressure value, that the charge time is within the range of 45 – 55 seconds and the down time (to regenerate the drying column and allow for cooling) is approximately 1/3 of the charging time.

Check the Current Absorption

Check the current absorption throughout the charge cycle and ensure it does not exceed the full load current value stated on the nameplate.

At the end of each charge cycle, the volume of air held in the small tank on the drying column escapes through the solenoid at the base of the drying column (to regenerate the silica gel) and carries absorbed fluid into the collection bottle.

This process also unloads the pressure in the cylinders. If this does not occur, check the solenoid and clean or replace as necessary.

Check for Air Leaks

Check for any air leaks on the compressor, the pipe work and in the chair connections.

Check the Air Flow of Each Cylinder

Check the air flow of each cylinder inlet throughout the charge cycle. The air drawn into the cylinder should be greater than 6,000 N l/h.

Replace Electrical Components

Replace any burnt out lamps within the control panel and replace any relay or contactors that arc excessively or have badly worn contacts.

Do not modify any of the electrical or mechanical safety protection.

Listen for Abnormal Operating Sounds

Changes in operating sound may be a sign or excessive wear. To avoid possible malfunction or component breakages, investigate the origin of any abnormal sounds.

Check Temperature of the Plant Room

Check the temperature of the plant room. Temperatures in excess of +35°C will reduce the effectiveness of the drying column and will shorten the life of the compressor.

Open the tap located under the compressor tank and check if any moisture is present. If so, possible causes are related to aforementioned checks:

  • Effectiveness of the air-to-air heat exchanger cooling fan
  • Plant room temperature
  • Cycle charge time and down time
  • Drying column drain solenoid operation
  • Replace the HEPA Filter Cartridges

In an environment with relatively clean air, it is sufficient to replace filters every 12 months. To service this filter, firstly electrically isolate the compressor, close the compressed air outlet tap and drain the tank by opening the drain valve located under the tank.

Regular Care and Maintenance of Suction Pumps

You should always refer to the operator’s handbook before carrying out any work. These can be found online from the manufacturer’s website.

Prior to carrying out any servicing operation make sure to wear:

  • Disposable gloves
  • Eye protection
  • Mask
  • Protective clothing / overalls

The machine should be disconnected from the power and flammable or corrosive liquids and materials should not be present within the same room.

Daily Checks

Check for any possible alarm on the display. If there is an alarm present, contact our service department for further advice, we can even advise you on a video call through WhatsApp.

At the end of every working day aspirate a solution of a non-foaming concentrate for disinfecting and simultaneous deodorisation, cleaning and maintenance of dental aspirators and amalgam separators (wet, semi-wet & dry systems) that does not contain aldehydes and phenol.

Clean the aspiration filters on the dental unit and replace antifoaming tablets (if used).

Clean and disinfect the aspirator filter.

Daily Disinfection

A liquid concentrate for disinfection should take place once treatments have ended for the day or, in cases of heavy use, twice a day (at midday and in the evening).

Weekly Cleaning

A special cleaner for suction systems and amalgam filtration devices will be required that has a strong cleaning power against deposits, incrustations, and accumulations.

The application should take place once or twice a week or, in cases of heavy use, daily at around midday.

Yearly Servicing of Suction Pumps

Annual maintenance must be carried out by a trained engineer using manufacturer’s service kits and special test and analysis instruments.

The checks that must be performed are:

  • Maximum detected temperatures (operating temperature range should be between +5 and +40˚C)
  • All other alarms including amalgam alarms

Routine maintenance would consist of:

  • Removing any amalgam waste
  • Checking for any stored fluids and drainage waste
  • Check, clean or replace filters, if necessary
  • Testing unit in line with manufacturers guidelines
  • Checking for any leaks
  • Making any repairs or replacements
  • Disposing of any used and contaminated parts observing your practice policy

More Information

For more information on what is involved when a dental engineer services your equipment, read our article – The Ultimate Guide to Dental Engineering.

This guide covers the importance of preventative annual servicing to keep your equipment running smoothly and minimise down-time.

Dental equipment can generally last 10-15 years if properly utilised and maintained, so it is recommended to set-up a service schedule for all maintenance and certification intervals.

We can contact you when required to book work in at your convenience giving you peace of mind that your machinery will remain compliant and in safe working order.

Disclaimer: This information has derived from the manufacturer's maintenance and cleaning documentation.


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