The Tuttnauer EZ series are a great option for practices looking to update their autoclaves from a manual option to an automatic. This a “plug and play” option with little to no training needed on operation, however, with increased automation of cycles there is more opportunity for certain parts to fail. This is far from a reason to discourage you from upgrading your unit as the time alone saved with an automatic unit is worth far more than the occasional breakdown. Additionally, by keeping up to date with preventative maintenance agreements and service plans, these breakdowns are highly uncommon.
Not every practice has the budget set aside for a 6-month maintenance plan and opt for a 12 Month service plan – some even go as far as only servicing on an as-needed basis, which can end up costing them far more than they realize in the long run! In these cases, where budget plays a more constricting role, many turn to “Google” for their answers. Thanks to the autoclaves’ LCD display, you are alerted to what has caused the failure which will help to aid in the repair of the unit. You can search the error message online and find countless websites giving you tips and tricks on how to fix your unit. Another option would be to call your local autoclave repair company, who can try to troubleshoot with you over the phone before making a paid trip on-site.
So, lets talk about one of the more common and most frustrating messages, the dreaded “Low Water” message.
What does the LOW WATER error code mean?
First things first, the Low Water error code does NOT mean your autoclave needs more water. This is by far the most common assumption and a very practical one. The LOW WATER error is displayed on your LCD Screen when there is not enough water within the Sterilization Chamber. In a normal cycle, water is pumped into the chamber from the main reservoir until it reached a water electrode. Once the water has come in contact with the electrode, an electrical circuit within the system is completed and the pump shuts off. However, when this error is displayed, it is telling the operator that the water pump has not pumped enough water into the chamber and no circuit is being completed.
Is there anything I can do to fix this myself?
There are a few things that your service technician will start with, so it makes sense to try them yourself before reaching out for help.
- The number one reason for this failure is your water pump starting to fail. See further down for the section on the water pump for more information on this. In short, hot water being run the water pump over time will ruin the pump. Do not run back-to-back cycles on the unit and wait at least an hour between runs to allow the water in the unit to cool down to room temperature. If waiting is not an option, empty out the water completely and refill.
- Check to make sure your autoclave is on a level surface. This is to make sure the water reached the electrode when pumped into the unit.
- Check for a dirty water electrode which could be shorted
- Check that the filters are clean and there is nothing blocking or restricting water flow.
- A more uncommon cause could be a power failure during the heat or sterilization stage. When power is returned to the unit, the system will check the water electrode to ensure sufficient water is in the chamber for it to continue. This can cause the machine to abort and prompt the LOW WATER error.
If none of the above tips helped solve the error code:
Being that this autoclave is entirely automated, water has to get from the reservoir to the chamber somehow. In the Tuttnauer EZ series, this is done by a water pump rather than gravity to decrease overall cycle time (It is much faster to pump water than to wait for the water to fill up due to gravitation pull).
When untrained users run the autoclave on back-to-back cycles, the hot water from the previous cycle can ruin the water pump over time. This is averted by having users always wait an hour between cycles to allow the water to cool back down to room temperature.
UGHH, I think its my water pump, what do I do now?? HELP!?!
Don’t worry, there are a couple workarounds to this problem if its an emergency situation and you cannot wait for a repair.
Option 1: Pour water into the chamber manually (This is how the very old units used to work and why not, it still works!)
Option 2: If your unit only sometimes give the LOW WATER error, just space your runtimes out to allow for the water to cool
Sub Option 2.1: If waiting between runs isn’t an option, empty the water from the unit and refill it with room temperature distilled water.
Sub Option 2.2: If changing the water is taking too long, make a tray of distilled water ice cubes. 😊 YEP, this actually works, we’ve done it before!
If all else fails, give us a call at 443 296 7435, or send an email at [email protected] and we’ll get you a FREE loaner while we repair your autoclave.