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High-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) equipment is a critical instrument for many labs, but too often, labs make errors regarding their use, maintenance, and cleanliness. We discuss common mistakes labs make with their HPLC equipment to help labs avoid these issues below.

Neglecting Maintenance

Maintenance is crucial for all equipment but especially with HPLC machines. Column cleanliness, in particular, is essential for HPLC equipment to work correctly, so if labs aren’t frequently cleaning each column after use, it could lead to blockages and issues in the system.

Dirty columns can quickly lead to degradation and other problems with the HPLC and harm the accuracy and results of the machine each time it’s used. To keep the HPLC system clean, consider one with an automatic pre-wash program to ensure it’s always clean before use.

Poor Recordkeeping

Recordkeeping and maintenance logs are also critical to HPLC equipment maintenance and longevity. Quality recordkeeping helps gather information and maintain a reliable maintenance schedule for the team.

Labs should always track when the HPLC equipment gets used, who used it, when it’s cleaned, when parts get replaced or fixed, and more. If problems arise with the HPLC system, the recordkeeping will help the lab troubleshoot and pinpoint the problem’s source.

Using Old & Degraded Columns

Even if you’re cleaning the columns after every use, there comes the point where HPLC columns are too old and degraded for reliable use. As much as labs want to get the most out of their HPLC equipment, a common mistake is using columns that are too old.

Most columns are useful for many years when properly maintained, cleaned, and stored, but they won’t last forever. The general rule for HPLC column age before replacement is a few years or around 30 uses, whichever comes first.

Pro Tip

Extend the life of an HPLC column with a pre-column, which fits in front of the HPLC column to catch debris and waste before it enters the HPLC column.

Forgetting Blank Runs

Blank HPLC runs are critical aspects of the HPLC process as it only injects the solvent in which the samples get dissolved. A blank run is similar to a negative control that tells the lab how sound and accurate the equipment is.

Running a blank may cost time and solvent, but it should always get done at the beginning of an HPLC session and between samples if working with unpredictable compounds to clean them out.


We hope our HPLC equipment guide has been helpful and informative. If you need new HPLC equipment for your lab, consider a used HPLC machine from Conquer Scientific that’s just as accurate and reliable as new equipment but at a fraction of the price. Browse our inventory or contact our staff with questions today.