In this technical article you will learn about the procedure for purging air from a reversed-phase column.
If the reservoir runs dry in your HPLC pump you will draw air into the pump, but the pump will not pump air through the system. HPLC pumps are designed to pump liquid, not air. When they fill with air, they lose their prime and stop pumping. You may pump a few bubbles of air into the column before the pump quits entirely, but the pump will not have pumped air through the column continually if it was left running all night. Even if it had, it is unlikely to have caused problems. To correct the problem, you will need to first re-prime the pump by purging the air from all the lines. I would remove the column before starting. Start by degassing the solvent thoroughly. If you use an in-line degasser, this may be sufficient, otherwise I recommend helium sparging. Then open the purge valve at the pump outlet and prime the pump in the normal manner. With some pumps, this will mean filling the tubing between the reservoir(s) and pump with the aid of a syringe.
By reading the full article you will discover all the steps that are required to rectify the issue and find out more about the side effects of allowing the pump to run dry for an extended period of time.
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