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Servicing Your Gear and Why It’s Important

 

Service your equipment regularly

The underwater environment is not our natural habitat. We were not born with gills (unfortunately) and so we rely on good old human invention and the laws of physics to allow us to access the 70% of this planet that is covered in the blue stuff. What do we use? The majority of us still use open circuit scuba and when used within the manufacturers’ guidelines it will keep us safe. What is SCUBA? Well it stands for “self-contained underwater breathing apparatus”, it is your life support system and should be treated with respect.  Air is pretty important to our survival, so the mechanics involved with the deliverance of this air supply to us underwater should be protected from harm, kept out the sun and above all,  serviced annually.  I am talking about your regulator, your BCD and anything else that you choose to reply on to keep you safe while diving.

Your regulators: These are the most important to our survival. You need to service them every year regardless of how many times they actually got wet. Its not a usage issue – it’s a timing one. I have met many a diver who has stated “I only went diving 3 times last year, they will be fine for another year” as he is happily assembling on the shore line. Un necessary risk if you ask me. Regulators are comprised of many moving parts, including o-rings made from rubber. This rubbers integrity breaks down over twelve months and the lubricants that smooth the machine into working fluidly wear down and become stale. Change them. It doesn’t take long, or take them to your local dealer.

Tanks are also very important, as they hold the air to be delivered to your regulators. They are the source to all of your underwater adventures. You want them to be strong. You want them to be clean. You want them to be the vessel which will deliver the cool, crisp, triple filtered mix of air that was packed for you by the heart of the dive center – the compressor.  Taking the proper care of this vessel is common sense. Your cylinder needs to be visually inspected at least once a year, and the structural integrity of it must be tested every 4-5 years hydrostatically.  Tanks are stamped, or stickered, or registered (worldwide variations apply) with all the information that you need to ensure that you never omit a check date.

BCD’s only allow you total control if they are in full working order. They also contain parts that wear down over the year and it is a good practice to change these every twelve months. Parts to take special care of are found in the inflator, the bladder and the dump valves. Regardless of the date of your last service it is good practice to check the following before and after each dive:

Your inflator adds and releases air at the touch of the button. It should not self-fill, or self-dump, and it should be a steady rate of smooth inflation without any bubbles. Not even little ones.

The dump valves and inflator washers should be hand tight, not loose, and again, not leaking at all.

When fully inflated your BCD should be able to hold its air overnight.

Dump valves are clear of debris to ensure overfilling or dumping problems throughout your dive.

Self maintenance will make your expensive gear last longer. Give it the full life it deserves. Say “thank you” to it by giving it spa treatment….rinse it, re-rinse it then rinse it again. Anything that went diving with you goes in the dunk tank…..don’t be lazy and get into the ritual that is washing. It is the pre-debrief to your debrief and the camaraderie between you and your fellow dive buddies will be at its highest, especially after a particularly exotic sighting of the local marine treasures. The wash-ritual is the  place where, amongst the tango of  dripping wetsuits, your buddies decide who is buying the first round of beer at the bar.

 

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