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When to Use Gas Detector Tubes

Learn more about what a gas detector tube is and when to use them.

A gas detector tube is a glass tube that is filled with a reagent that creates a color change when exposed to the gas that is being tested. The detector tube will indicate the concentration of gas by the printed calibration scale on the tube. They are typically used with a hand pump that will pull any gas that is in the air into the tube.

Gas detector tubes are typically used to determine if combustible, flammable and toxic gases are in the air, often as part of a safety procedure. They are regularly used by industries known to produce these types of gases such as industrial plants, refineries, manufacturing plants, hazmat operations, and other areas where air quality may be affected. They are a fast and relatively economical way to alert people if there is a dangerous gas detected.

While they should be used frequently by those industries known to produce these types of gases to test air quality ongoing, they can also be used in the event of an emergency. This could include a known unexpected gas leak or situations where it is deemed that combustible or toxic gases may be an issue. They are also often used by firefighters to determine what types of gases may be fueling a fire.

Though instructions may vary, generally to use a gas detector tube, break both ends off the tube and insert into the hand pump. Pull the handle of the pump until the tube is locked and wait until the sampling time has completed. Then read the measurement by looking at the printed calibration scale on the tube.