By Robert Trosset
Part of every new scuba divers open water course is to learn how to care for the life support equipment used in the sport. Just like any of our dive skills it is something that needs to be practiced making sure it is up to date. Many experienced divers are guilty of cutting corners or stretching the service date of equipment. While it may seem innocent, the consequences of a failure while diving can be very serious.
The first step is always to start with quality equipment. Name brand regulators and B.C.D.S have thousands of hours of testing performed on them before they ever see the customer. This testing has ensured a quality product that will last for many years.
Before you leave the dock you should always do an assessment of your equipment. When was the last time you had it serviced by a trained technician? I have spent many hours in classrooms learning how to properly disassemble a regulator and replace each component. If even once part is out of place the consequences could be massive. Follow your manufacturer’s recommendations for service but a good rule of thumb is to have it serviced at least once a year.
Do you own your own tanks? If so, the visual inspection is due every year and the hydrostatic test is due every 5 years. The main reason for inspecting the tanks is to prevent a catastrophic failure. Finz Dive Center has trained technicians that can perform these inspections. If you will be diving for lobster season get this done early. There will be hundreds of divers trying to get the same service performed and could cause you to miss opening day.
The proper way to store any dive equipment is to keep it out of the sun and in a cool dry place. I prefer to store my bcd in my closet rather than my garage. Make sure to rinse out the bladder and power inflator to keep the salt from building up. For the regulator set make sure to keep it pressurized or be careful to not depress the purge button when cleaning. If you do it may allow water to enter the system and cause corrosion.
Wetsuits can be a breeding ground for bacteria. I always clean mine with simple green and let them dry inside out. This lets the part that touches my skin dry first so nothing can grow. I will come back the next day and turn it right-side out to finish drying the rest. Make sure to keep them on a wide hanger to prevent creases that could turn into rips.
Spearguns are often left outside in the elements. You should remove the bands and other rubber components and store in a cool area. This will keep the ends from cracking and make sure it is ready for the next hunt.
Take care of your equipment and it will last for many years to come.