Spring cleaning is important for dive gear, too!
Spring is almost here, and in the spring cleaning tradition of freshening up and breathing new life into your home and possessions – it’s a great time to pull out your dive gear and look it over. When did you last service your gear? While quality gear lasts a long time, some items that are “antique” (despite their sentimental value) may need to be retired…. Here are some tips for evaluating what to keep and what has outlived its usefulness.
Gear evaluating/servicing tips:
Regulators should be serviced every two years or every 100 dives, whichever comes first. Even if you haven’t dived your regulator for awhile, some of the o-rings are being compressed whether you use them or not, and need to be replaced. The manufacturers’ parts kits for each stage contain all the parts recommended to be changed. You will receive all the used parts back after a service. If the manufacturer is no longer in business, and parts are not available, it may be time to invest in a new regulator. Additionally, if any salt residue is left in the regulator system, (do any of the fittings or connections show a green color?) it will corrode the metal and cause the parts not to fit together or seat correctly. Allowed to sit long enough, the corrosion may completely destroy the regulator. You would be disgusted by what can grow in a regulator that hasn’t been properly rinsed – we are… Hoses do not last forever, and should be replaced every 5-7 years, depending on use, and how well they have been rinsed and stored. What is growing/living in your mouthpiece? Good idea to replace those on a regular basis also.
Computers – how’s the battery charge? Nothing is more frustrating that being on a long anticipated dive vacation, only to have your computer malfunction because the battery died. Some watch style computers, like D9s, don’t give you an indication of how the battery is doing – if you’re going on a trip, and it’s been more than a year since you changed the battery – send it in for the battery change before your trip! For user changeable battery style computers – be sure you have a spare battery, the o-ring for the “door,” and know how to change it. If you don’t own a computer….this might be the time to invest in one! Retire those ancient gauges, and invest in a computer! They are reasonably priced, and most dive operators require dive computers, so save yourself the expense of having to rent a device with which you are not familiar.
Tanks need to be visually inspected annually, and hydrostatically tested every 5 years. If you breathe the tank completely empty, or allow all the air to escape, the tank will have to be visually inspected before it can be filled, regardless of when the last VIP was done. Be sure to store tanks with at least 300-500 psi in them. If you suspect water has entered the cylinder, bring it in for a visual, as allowing water to sit in the tank will corrode the inside and potentially cause the tank to be condemned. Be sure the burst disk in your valve is up to date and the proper pressure rating for your tank. We service the tank valves when the cylinder comes in for hydro as part of the hydro service.
BCs should be inflated and checked to make sure they hold air, and the power inflators should be inspected for corrosion. Again, if salt water has been allowed to sit in/on them for long periods of time, it will cause damage to the device. Examine the buckles for cracks, and zippers, if you have them, for corrosion or missing teeth.
Wetsuits have a life expectancy of 5-7 years or 200 dives. Even if your wetsuit has not been in the water, but hanging in the closet, over time the air cells break down and the suit begins to lose its elasticity and insulating properties. If the suit feels hard and somewhat stiff when you try to put it on, it is likely time to retire it.
Personal gear: mask, snorkel, & fins should last for up to 20 years or more if you purchased quality equipment. Boots are neoprene products, and like wetsuits, begin to break down and deteriorate after 5-7 years, and should be replaced. But the other gear should give you many years of snorkeling and diving pleasure. Be sure to check the frame of your mask regularly to make sure mold is not taking up residence in there. Fin straps should be checked regularly to make sure they do not have cracks or tears which can cause you to lose a fin inconveniently.
Lights, knives, surface marker buoys – everything should be checked thoroughly before you use it again. The condition of your dive gear can make all the difference in your diving experience! You work hard – make sure your dive gear is ready when you get to play!
As with all spring cleaning endeavors, meticulously going through your dive gear can seem like a lot of work –but it will be well worth it when you take it out and go diving!! Let us know if we can help!