IVC Preventative Maintenance:
Much More Than Just HEPA Filters
IVC systems rely on HEPA filters (high-efficiency particulate air) to ensure the animals are fully protected from all micro-organisms. However, HEPA filters are only a portion of the overall airflow management. These systems are complex and require a high level of engineering to ensure the IVCs provide consistent airflow to the cage, protecting the animals, as well as creating a stable microenvironment.
In order to maintain this performance level, it is highly recommended that a detailed preventative maintenance program, which extends well beyond simple HEPA filter bypass testing, be initiated. A well executed manufacturers PM reviews all aspects of an IVC rack, including: blower speeds, plenum seals and ports, doors and gaskets, kup seals, casters, cage pressure, as well as filtration.
Why is this important? Over time the washing and use of the equipment takes a toll on its function and in many cases, you cannot see the damage that was done and how it is impacting the airflow/pressure in the cage. For example, a missing gasket can reduce airflow by 20%, and in some cases, it can also impact the polarity of the cage.
IVCs are an incredibly useful tool for research, and although they look impervious to issues, the trained eye of the manufacturer’s service technician can make the difference between smooth and successful outcomes or compromising animals and research.