High backpressure is one of the most common problems encountered in HPLC analyses. Normal column backpressure is observed after a new column has been installed and equilibrated with mobile phase. Unfortunately, this pressure often will increase as the column is used because particles collect on the column inlet frit. These particles can be sample impurities, mobile phase contaminants, or materials from the injector or autosampler rotor seal. In addition to increasing backpressure, particles on the frit can cause split peaks, peak tailing, and, eventually, over-pressure shut-down. In some circumstances, these problems can be corrected by back-flushing the column. However, in many cases the result is an unusable column. To minimize backpressure problems, all samples and mobile phase solvents must be filtered before use, and rotor seals should be changed on a routine basis. Along with these preventive measures, it is advisable to use precolumn filters such as the Trident guard column protection system. Particles build up on the inexpensive, replaceable frit in the filter, instead of on the permanent frit at the column inlet.
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