Used Autoclaves - What To Look For

In today's economy, it just makes sense to buy a used autoclave instead of a new one. You will easily save thousands of dollars, no matter which autoclave you are looking for.

If you are thinking about purchasing a used autoclave, here are some basic guidelines to help you in your pursuit of just the right unit.

Keep in mind, price is not indicative of quality and there are bargains to be had.....if you are careful and know what to look for.

Caveat Emptor

Know who the seller is. If you are looking at an auction site like ebay, the seller is made known, or there are ways you can find out who they are. If the seller is someone who repairs/refurbishes autoclaves, they should put some kind of a guarantee/warranty on the unit.
    If the seller is a dealer or a repair facility and does not guarantee the unit you are looking at, or if they tell you they do not know what is wrong with it, walk away. The odds are it is junk, and at best, is good only for spare parts.  
On the other hand, if the seller is an individual, the only guarantee you can expect is the autoclave is as described and/or guaranteed not to be DOA (Dead On Arrival). This simply means the unit is guaranteed to work when you get it, and nothing beyond that. This is fair and you need this kind of guarantee as a minimum on any unit you buy.

Always use email to ask you questions and get your replies. This way you have in writing what the seller is telling you about the autoclave, and written proof if you have been mislead in anyway.

One more caveat:  Stay away from government surplus sales!

Makes & Models

Look for Brand Names You Know & Trust, like ....
  • Pelton Crane
  • Tuttnauer
  • Midmark
  • Statim
Make sure the unit you are looking at meets your needs. In particular, the chamber size

It is best to make sure there are parts available for the unit you contemplating. Autoclaves are mechanical beasts and there will be problems from time to time. If parts are not available when you need them, your autoclave will be unrepairable and will have to be replaced when problems do occur.

Keep in mind, the more extra options there are, the more costly a repair (or replacement parts) will be. The features the options offer are a must have for some, and of no importance to others. Decide how important certain features are to you. As a general rule of thumb, the more basic the unit, the cheaper the repairs and the less to go wrong.

There are a few models which use chemicals instead of distilled water for the sterilization process. You can generally identify these units by their name. Somewhere the word Chemical or Chem is included, like "Chemiclave"

These are generally pretty good units. If this is what you are looking at, make sure the chemicals are available to you in your area (shipping costs are through the roof) and the pricing.

For most of our clients, a "dry heat" autoclave is not something that will meet your needs.

Questions to Ask The Seller

Here are the Top Twelve Questions you should be asking the seller on any used autoclave you are thinking about purchasing:
  • Why are you selling the autoclave?
  • Does the chamber leak? If there are holes in the chamber, the unit is worthless (except for parts). Move on to the next one
  • Has the unit been properly maintained (door gaskets, filters, bellows, etc) on a regular basis? When was the last time the unit had maintenance performed?
  • Ask if anything but distilled water has ever been used. Using normal tap water will cause a litany of problems
  • Does the unit complete all cycles?
  • Does the unit fill properly?
  • Does the unit vent properly? (Is there water left standing after the sterilization cycle is complete?)
  • Are there any water or steam leaks?
  • Does the unit build and maintain the right amount of pressure and temperature throughout the process, as it was designed to do?
  • Are there any pressure leaks?
  • Do any of the features on the model you are looking at.....not work.....or not work properly?
  • Has the unit been modified? There is one company who completely retrofits autoclaves. Pretty much everything except the cabinet itself is modified. While their workmanship is exceptional, in making the modifications, they use parts only they have access to (proprietary).

    The problem with this is when it comes time for replacing parts, you are at their mercy. This means, without competition, they can charge you whatever they want, and they generally do just that. You can expect to pay 2 to 3 times the going rate for a similar part you would find on a non-modified unit.
Asking questions will help ensure your purchase will be a good investment. If you have found one on ebay, send us a link or the item # and we will be happy to take a look at it for charge of course.

No matter where you are looking, if you would like our opinion as to the viability and value of the autoclave you are looking at, feel free to contact us. You will find us to be unbiased, truthful, and matter who the seller is.   And we rarely if ever put one on ebay for sale (we have a long waiting list for our units).  But should you be looking at one of ours, we will reveal our ownership to you.....up front

What's in it for us?  We want to earn your business somewhere down the line........when you are in the market for replacement and maintenance parts for your autoclave widget logo