Nov 2014

Maintain your Dive Gear

By Mike Waddington

Dive gear is expensive, so it is important to look after it correctly. It may seem like all you need to do is give it a rinse in fresh water after a dive but there is a lot more to it than that. If you fail to properly maintain your dive gear it will not only physically look worn out, but it can also start to malfunction which could potentially lead to accidents.

The main step in looking after your gear is to rinse it in fresh water after every dive. This is important for salt water, chlorine water (if you have been pool diving) and even fresh water (lakes may not be as clean as they seem). Rinsing your gear after a dive removes dirt, sediment and salt, which can all damage your equipment, especially any moving parts. This is especially true of salt as it acts as a catalyst for corrosion in both aluminum and steel items. Salt crystals are also sharp, making un-rinsed items such as wetsuits or BCDs uncomfortable. Chlorine water deteriorates rubber, which is a key component of wetsuits. A quick was in fresh water can solve all these problems for you, however many pieces of equipment require more than just a quick dunk to keep them in top condition.

BCD (Buoyancy Compensating Device) or BC (Buoyancy Compensator)
Your BCD needs a thorough rinse after every dive outing you go on. The main thing that many divers miss while rinsing their BCD is they forget to rinse it inside as well as out. If you fully deflate your BCD while diving, water can enter if you press the deflate button. If left in here the salt (if diving in the sea) can corrode the bladder from the inside, leading to holes. Having holes in your BCD can be dangerous as while you are at the surface the air will leak, making it very difficult to stay above the water. You need to fully drain them, and while holding the deflate button down, place a hose against the manual inflation mouthpiece and allow fresh water to enter. Then give it a shake about so the fresh water touches everywhere inside the bladder, and then drain again. You should store your BCD on a wide hanger, partially inflated.

Torches, Cameras, Housings and Dive Computers
All of these items should be rinsed in fresh water as soon as you finish diving. Ideally there should be a bucket with freshwater if diving from a boat, so you can rinse it immediately. You should also press any buttons a few times while the item is submerged in the fresh water. This is because dirt and salt crystals can get trapped behind the buttons, making them difficult to press over time, or it can lead to the buttons getting stuck down. Any items that use O-rings to create a water tight environment should be checked whenever opened. You should inspect the O-ring for grains of sand, dirt or anything else that shouldn’t be on there. Even a human hair on your camera housing O-ring can make it leak, resulting in a broken camera! You should also grease the O-ring every so often using silicone grease to help keep a water tight seal. It is also a good idea to store items such as torches and cameras without the batteries inside as they can leak which will damage the electronics.

Regulators
Regulators have lots of moving parts, which need well lubricated O-rings. If not rinsed properly you can get a build-up of dirt inside some parts of the regulator. It is important to not get water inside the first stage, as this can get pushed into your high pressure hose and cause your SPG to stick, leading to incorrect air readings. You must dry and replace the dust cap BEFORE rinsing the first stage as this is the most common way to flood the first stage. It is also important to keep the first stage above the second stages while rinsing and not to press the purge button (this will open the valve in the second stage and allow water to enter the hoses.

You should also get your regulator serviced regularly by a service technician. This should be done at least once a year, more so if you dive frequently. They will dismantle all of the stages, clean them, inspect for wear and tear and replace the O-rings. Never try to service a regulator yourself without proper training!

All of your other gear just needs a good rinse in fresh water, and allowed to full dry before being stored. You should always store things such as BCDs and wetsuits on wide hangers, as thin wire hangers will stretch parts of the material. A mask should always be stored in a protective case or a proper mask box once dried. Cockroaches love to eat the silicone frame which will make the mask leak.

If you want to keep your gear functioning properly for a long time then you must properly look after it. If you want any tips or advice then just speak to your dive instructor or go into your local dive shop. The best way to learn how to look after your equipment is to learn how it works. For this I would recommend taking a course such as the PADI Equipment Specialty, or a specific course for your gear needs such as a regulator specific service technician course. This also will train you how to service your own gear, which will save you money in the long run.

‘Maintain your Dive Gear’ was written by Mike

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Mike Waddington

I first discovered diving in 2008 after going snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. After trying diving at a flooded quarry in England I decided to head out to warmer more interesting waters in Thailand where I ended on the Island of Koh Tao completing my Open Water course. Instantly addicted with money to spend and plenty of time on my hands I decided to continue until I became a Divemaster so I could live what seemed as the perfect life.

After that I headed to the Caribbean to an island called Utila to complete my instructor course, I spent several months out there completing the MSDT internship, teaching students and leading dives. This is also where I discovered my interest in the technical side of diving, taking part in equipment repair courses and learning about blending gasses and running compressors.

With all my new qualifications it was time to head back to where it had all started, Back to Koh Tao where I intended on living the dream. Once I arrived I quickly found a job and started teaching straight away. During my time on Koh Tao I took part in all many technical diving courses, learning how to dive with re-breathers, in caves and even going down to 90m/300ft!

Qualifications:

PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer
PADI/DSAT Tech Deep Instructor
PADI/DSAT Gas Trimix Gas Blender
PADI/DSAT Trimix Diver
TDI Intro to Cave Diver
TDI Advanced Wreck Diver
TDI Inspiration rebreather Decompression Procedures
PADI Professional Videographer
BSAC Compressor Operator
TDI Equipment Service Technician

Dream Dive Locations:

Silfra, Iceland
Cenotes, Mexico
Chuuk Lagoon, Micronesia
Ice Diving in Russia