Blaise Midnight, Biomedical Engineer with Zoetek Medical, talks about the routine maintenance that can be performed on the Tuttnauer Autoclave Sterilizer.

Let’s talk about things that the operators can do between the annual PMs that we perform for you to help prolong Tuttnauer Autoclave’s life and also keep it looking and working at its peak performance.

Daily Maintenance

Start out with Daily Maintenance – which is pretty simple. Start with a cold start and cleaning. So often people will do this first thing in the morning. Open the door unscrew the lock, slide it over, and open the door Then take some distilled water (always use distilled water with a sterilizer for almost everything). Take some distilled water and a clean damp rag – dampen with the distilled water and wipe the sealing surface that the gasket is going to seal against. Wipe off the gasket as well. Over a period of time, impurities that get into the water and steam will cause a crusty material to form here and on the gasket and can cause leaks and make it not function up to its peak performance. Every day it’s a good idea to wipe those down get a good wipe with distilled water. Other than that, do a wipe down of the whole unit itself (distilled water is also recommended) and maybe even a mild cleaning solution or mild soap solution. Wipe down the hole outside of the unit. Keep it nice and clean. If  have a disinfection procedure at the facility by all means  can do that. If  don’t have one and are interested in maybe doing one, be careful what type of chemicals  put on the plastic and paint. An alcohol-based disinfectant is a good recommendation overall to use on this. That is, basically, the daily maintenance.

Weekly Maintenance

Now, I’ll cover the weekly operator maintenance on the sterilizer. One of the biggest things is to do the water change and clean the chamber and  the sterilizer, basically internal parts of the sterilizer. Use Chamber Brite made by Tuttnauer. It’s a chemical so it’s always a good idea to have personal protective equipment glasses and gloves when ‘re using this. Always start this out with a cold start.

First, drain the chamber. ’ll need the bucket and the drain tube that came with the sterilizer. The drain tube goes on here and then  unscrew this and then the water will run down into the bucket or sink or wherever  want it to go. This is waste water. You’re not going to use it again. Once it’s empty, pull that off and screw this closed. Always use distilled water only on the sterilizer. At this point, refill with fresh distilled water.

Remove the tray rack and trays.

Take the package of Chamber Brite, rip it open and pour it along the bottom of the chamber in a line across the bottom.  When done, close the door, latch it, and run a wrapped cycle. To run a wrapped cycle, turn the power on and hit wrapped cycle. Let it run through its whole cycle. The Chamber Brite will get in there and it’ll loosen up and clean a lot of the stuff that builds up inside the sterilizer including inside the plumbing which is a very difficult area to keep clean. It will definitely prolong the life of the sterilizer.

When it goes into the dry cycle, hit the stop button because you don’t need the dry cycle. Once the pressure is down to zero, open the door again and drain again the water since it has Chamber Brite in it.

Drain it into the sink or the bucket or whatever and dispose of that.

Close the reservoir drain again and close the door.  Take another fresh batch of distilled water and fill it in the reservoir. If you don’t have a dipstick we can get you one. Just make sure the water is below the level of the brass pieces inside. Refill it with water and then run a rinse cycle. All these cycles are with no instruments or anything inside.

Run a unwrapped cycle and let it go through that cycle. When it goes into the dry cycle hit stop to stop the cycle.

Open the door, take the drain tube and drain out the rinse water, and dispose of that.

Take another fresh batch of distilled water and refill the sterilizer.

There is button here that is Fill button. With the unit on, press that for about two seconds. Some water from the reservoir will run into the chamber to flush out a little bit of the extra water that’s left inside the pipes. Take a clean rag or something and wipe that all out of there. Take another clean rag – wet it with distilled water – and wipe out the whole inside of the chamber and get it all nice and clean including here around the door and everything.

There’s one other item in the back. Look in the very back of the sterilizer. There is a filter with a little screen on the left but on the right there’s like a little button that sticks up just a little bit. That is the water level sensor. It’s a good idea to take the distilled water on a rag and clean the edges of the water level sensor so it knows when there’s enough water. The unit will automatically fill to that level. If that gets really dirty it can get confused about the water level and it’ll cause it not to operate properly. So, a weekly cleaning of that is a great thing.

Next, remove and clean the screen filter next to it to just make sure that’s not clogged up with any debris. Clean it with a little brush or rinse it off. A lot of times it looks perfectly fine.

Return the tray rack to the sterilizer and the tray. It’s a good idea to clean those a little bit. So, wipe those down. If there is some discoloration or buildup of material on here, there’s a product called Bar Keeper’s Friend and it is made without any chlorine additives (chlorine and stainless steel do not go together). Never use anything with chlorine to clean the sterilizer chamber rack or trays. Once clean, rinse it before using it.

The last thing is take a thin oil such as 3-in-1 oil or any kind of household oil (I don’t recommend a spray oil). Just something that comes in a drip container. Oil the hinge – just put a little drop of oil on the moving parts of the hinge and also on the door latch – put a little drop of oil on the threads. That will help prolong the life of the door and the latch mechanism.

Cleaning the Bleeder Value and Safety Valve

The last part is to show you how to clean the Bleeder Valve and the Safety Valve. They’re both right under the fill cover. When testing the safety valve, there will be a burst of steam so take precaution. Don’t have your face near it and wear a pair of gloves to protect your hands.

First is the Bleeder Valve cleaning, which should be done weekly. Look in and you’ll see a little wire loop. Take a screwdriver or a pointed device and  wiggle it side to side and front to back. That keeps the orifice open and flowing freely. If that gets clogged up with debris it will cause poor performance of the sterilizer. It could cause the failure of spore tests or indicator strips and it could cause you to not get proper sterilization. So, once a week, wiggle that thing back and forth.

The second thing in here is the safety valve. We recommended that this be tested annually and the purpose of that is to kind of clean it out so that the sealing surfaces of that move and don’t get stuck together. In an emergency situation this is supposed to relieve pressure if the pressure got too high in the chamber. Just make sure it’s not sticking and that’s working now. Again, a lot of steam might come out of here so keep the face clear and wear some kind of more protective gloves. You’ll need something like a screwdriver or device. Reach down in there and hook the screwdriver into the keyring and then pull it to the side. You’ll get a blast – hold it open for a couple seconds. If, for some reason, it doesn’t immediately close when released just wiggle it a couple more times it should seal back up. This is a part of the annual PM that Zoetek does. I’m showing you this in case you’re inclined to try to do it yourself.

Annual Preventative Maintenance

The last thing that always recommend is an Annual PM which is a service that’s provided by Zoetek. During that PM a lot of the common failure parts are replaced to help prolong and enhance the operation of the sterilizer. We replace the door gasket and there’s some seals inside. There’s a HEPA filter on the side that goes on during the bent cycle that is sort of difficult to replace so we do get in there and replace that. We check voltages and check temperatures and pressures using our calibrated equipment. We replace the door gaskets there’s a couple other seals in here – some are safety seals for a door lock so that you can’t open the door while it’s under pressure. That needs to be rebuilt annually for safety. We also test the safety valve as well to make sure that’s working correctly and replace a few other parts that are common failures.

Thank you for watching Zoetek Medical Tek Tips. Keep an eye open for more tech tips and feel free to contact us at any time if you have any questions about anything we’ve covered or anything else that we can help with. I’m Blaise Midnight for Zoetek Medical.