Practice Tips #31: X-Ray Processor Maintenance

As with all equipment, routine maintenance is crucial to keep your x-ray processor running well.

This month we’re covering basic routine maintenance for automatic x-ray processors. We’re including more generalized information on maintenance, so there will be some variation for specific makes and models of processor. Consult your owner’s manual for the specifics of your processor. As always, you can also feel free to consult with our Tech Support staff for information applicable to the processor you use.


  1. Change rinse water (or open water valve for those processors with a direct water connection).
  2. Fill developer and fixer tanks. Be very careful not to spill or splash solutions- this is one of the most common causes of contamination. If your processor has an auto-replenishment system, check the fluid levels in the bottles and refill if necessary. Always fill the developer first to minimize risk of contamination.
  3. During the day- top off the fixer and developer as necessary. Typically after every 25-35 intraoral films, 1-3 panoramic films, or 2-4 cephalometric films. Distilled water can be used to top off fluids as well (just an ounce or two- more than that will dilute the solutions of course). Note the number of films will vary depending on the capacity of your specific make and model of processor.
  4. At the end of the day- turn off processor and turn off water supply (if your processor has a direct water connection).
  5. If using a daylight loader, remove any film packets/wrappers that may be in the daylight loader.

This rack shows signs of neglect. Note the silver on the rollers and black residue on the side.


  1. Turn off processor and remove cover.
  2. Carefully remove rack pulling straight up and then to the side. Be very careful not to suspend one rack over another tub. The solution could drip from the rack into another tub. This is a very common way to contaminate your chemistry.
  3. Place each rack in its own cleaning tub. Many manufacturers provide color-coded tubs for this purpose. If not, use of your own color-coded tubs in recommended.
  4. Clean the racks with a soft brush or sponge and warm water only (do not use detergents). Use separate brushes or sponges for each rack. Color-coding to match the racks is a good idea to avoid inadvertently contaminating the racks. Some manufacturers have special cleaning solutions they recommend using for cleaning. Typically, these are only to be used with the monthly or even quarterly cleaning routines. Check the directions for your processor and cleaning solution.
  5. While cleaning, inspect the racks for signs of wear or damage. They should spin freely when rotated by hand. Rotate the racks while cleaning to be certain to clean all surfaces (for those racks with rollers) as well as to verify that they spin properly.
  6. Thoroughly rinse and allow racks to dry.


  1. Remove and clean racks as above (“Weekly”).
  2. Drain chemistry and remove tubs. Dispose of chemistry in accordance with local codes.
  3. For processors with a chain drive (e.g. Dent-X 810) lubricate the chain using 3 drops of oil in each port labeled “oil” and then run the processor.
  4. Peri Pro processors- visually inspect transport to verify arms are correctly aligned. Adjust if necessary. (See our issue on lost films for more information on aligning the Peri Pro.)
  5. Thoroughly rinse and scrub tubs. Once again, be certain to use a dedicated brush or sponge for each tub to avoid cross-contamination of chemistry. Color coding will help avoid confusion.
  6. Remove drain plugs, agitators, stand pipes or other components from the chemistry tubs and clean. It may be helpful to clean in the same wash tub as the corresponding rack to avoid mixing chemistry.
  7. Allow all components time to dry thoroughly (usually over the weekend).
  8. At the beginning of the next work day, return components to the tubs, refill chemistry, install racks, and process a cleaning film (if such is available for your processor).


  1. Clean all components as above under “Monthly”. Use of a processor cleaning solution should be incorporated at this time. Most manufacturers have their own solutions although some after-market solutions are available as well. However, DO NOT use soaps or detergents, only solutions specifically made for x-ray processors.
  2. Thoroughly rinse cleaning solution from all components. NOTE: some manufacturers recommend allowing the racks to soak overnight (or longer) in the cleaning solution. Check the directions for your solution/processor. In such a case, rinse and re-install the racks on the next work day.
  3. For processors with a direct water connection- check the solenoid for clogs by disconnecting from the water source and inspecting the connection. Normally, there will be a screen inside the fitting which can be cleaned.
  4. Make a visual inspection of all electrical connections as well as any water, drain lines, or chemistry feed lines. Make certain that all connections are secure, that all hoses are free from kinks, and that there are no loose or frayed wires. Note any discrepancies and correct or replace worn components.
  5. Verify solution temperature using a thermometer. Most processors heat the chemistry to 81°-83°F. If the temperature is off, you may need to calibrate it or replace a component. Call our tech support staff for specifics of your machine.
  6. Some processors (e.g. AT2000) will have an automated cleaning cycle which should be run at this time.
  7. If using a daylight loader, check the seals of the loader for signs of wear and light leaks. One method of testing for light leaks is to put a coin on a fresh film inside the loader. Process the film. If you can see the coin you have a light leak.

General Precautions

For roller-type processors, use only a sponge or soft-bristled brush for cleaning. Abrasives or hard bristled brushes can damage the rollers.

Use color-coded cleaning supplies to avoid contaminating chemistry. An ammonia-like odor is a sign of contaminated chemistry.

Be observant. Watch and listen to a complete cycle at least once a day. Make certain all the appropriate indicators illuminate when appropriate. Strange noises or erratic performance can be the first sign of a problem.

Always lift transports up and to the side to avoid dripping chemistry into the wrong compartment/tray.  Likewise, when adding chemistry poor slowly to avoid splashing.

Consult your owner’s manual for precautions specific to your make and model of processor.


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