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Scuba Gear Service
Let’s start this topic off with the first thing that should always be imprinted into your mind, not only when you take your regulator in for service, but when you pack it away under your dive gear, store it for an extended period of time or wonder if your regulator is overdue for service. This is your life support system! It is of the same importance as the systems on a space shuttle, it is delivering oxygen rich air to your lungs to control your body’s functions, and we all know what happens without it.
By far this is the MOST important piece of equipment that you own, as reasoned in the above paragraph so we must take care of it accordingly. Your regulator should be serviced annually (with some brands 2 years, and we will talk about this shortly) no matter if you have 1 dive or 100 dives. Why? Because your regulator is built of many moving parts, especially o-rings which are made of either Rubber and on most or all newer regulators it will be EPDM (Oxygen Compatible to 40%). After a year the integrity of the o-rings start to diminish and the lubricants start to wear down and become stale. So it’s not a matter of “Oh but I only dove with it 4 times so I can service it in another year”, it’s a time issue. Just like the oil in your car, only good for 3 – 4 months, you wouldn’t think twice about changing the oil in your summer sports car. So which one is more important to you? And why would you want to cut corners in this case.
Taking your regulator in for annual service is not as expensive as you may think, 100 – 200 dollars a year and cheaper with some equipment manufacturers covering the parts for you. Some brands say that you need to service your regulator every two years. I would strongly (emphasis on the strong) advice that you use the following to determine when you take your regulator to your local dive shop. Consider the following:
1. Service your Regulator Annually if you do 1 – 50 dives a year; which is typical of a vacation diver
2. If you are what the SCUBA industry labels as an “active diver” you do 50 – 100 dives a year, and in this case you should service your regulator annually and definitely do not wait two years.
3. Are you in the 100 + range? If so way to go! You should be proud to call yourself a dive-a-holic or dive addict. Get your regulator serviced at least two times a year if you can afford it.
Just like any piece of your gear, the BCD is very important and a failure would be cause to end your dive or possibly put yourself at harm. So what consists of a BCD Service? Well you have the major parts of your BCD that you need to consider: the inflator, the bladder and the dump valves. All of these require attention, some annually and some are after every dive. You are responsible for checking the function of your BCD and for bringing it in for service when needed. I would recommend checking the following for proper operation before and after every dive:
1. Your inflator is adding and releasing air on press of the inflator and deflator buttons and is not slowly leaking or “auto-filling” your bladder.
2. The washers that keep your dump valves and inflator are hand tight and not loose.
3. Your BCD holds air over night when fully inflated
4. Your BCD’s dump valves are free of debris to avoid an overfilling or dumping problem during your dive.
When you bring your Regulators in for service, bring in your BCD, you can’t go diving without your regulator so you might as well have your BCD’s inflator valve serviced and valves cleaned, it will cost you 40 dollars at the very most and is well worth it to avoid failure. What we do is take your inflator off, inspect the body for any cracks and replace the inner workings with a special kit from the manufacturer.
Self maintenance is one of the most important skills you can have as a SCUBA diver, even if it is not your own gear. The golden rule, if you could not do anything and you are the type of person that things a screw driver is a garden tool, then you can remember this: RINSE, RINSE, and RE-RINSE! It’s that easy, the simple dunk in cold water is going to be the difference between a short time or a life time with your gear. The fact of the matter is, diving is a very expensive hobby, and very gear dependant, so we cannot risk purchasing something twice, or hurting ourselves.
Besides rinsing self maintenance can be very easy and I would like you to refer to the list that I have provided below for each piece of dive gear that you might own. A few key things to note are the difference between a rinse and a soak, duh! Rinse means you are not leaving it submerged for extended periods of time!
Mask – Fresh water soak, inspect silicone strap for nicks which can lead to complete tear
Snorkel – Fresh water soak, inspect the purge valve for nicks and cuts
Fins – Fresh water rinse or soak depending on your love for them, if you have spring straps you are in the clear. If you have rubber straps, check around the buckles for wear or discolouration
BCD – Fill Bladder with Water and Rotate for an even rinse, drain and inflate to dry, then drain
Regulator – If you have a yoke regulator rinse the 1st stage and hang over edge of rinse bucket, and soak the second stages for an hour or so. If you have a DIN regulator, you are likely to have a water proof cap, if not, get one, and soak entire regulator for an hour or so
Computer – Soak in sink, do not leave over night or your batter life will mysteriously disappear
Other Accessories – Lights, Knives, Lift Bags (rinse inside) and Reels etc. Can all be soaked!
Wetsuits – Do you pee in your wetsuit? Well everyone sweats in it, you just don’t feel it so get your hands on some organic cleaners like Mirazyme or Dettol and soak that baby!
Dry Suits – Rinse outside, especially valves and make sure they are functioning properly