Courtesy Diver’s Alert Network (DAN)
The water is cooling down, and it’s time for many of us to hang up our gear for the season. Whether you’re hanging up your gear until spring, or swapping your wetsuit for a drysuit and diving all year long, take the opportunity to inspect your gear, and service anything that looks questionable. Equipment failures are major contributing factors in many dive accidents, and preventative maintenance could prevent an injury next year. Do you know how to properly maintain your equipment?
Typically, buoyancy compensators (BCDs) are steadfast and utterly reliable – until they fail. When they do fail, serious injuries can occur from a loss of buoyancy, or an inability to vent gas from a BCD. Always inspect and test your BCD before a dive to confirm function. After a dive, rinse the outside of the BC and flush the bladder with fresh water. Pouring water through the inflator hose is a good way to rinse your power-inflator, and make sure you’ve rinsed every part of the bladder. Drain your BCD and partially inflate it before hanging to ensure that no mold or mildew can build up in the creases of the material. Inspect your low pressure inflator hose, dump valves, and power inflator annually for signs of aging, cracking, or damage.
Dive computers come with a wide variety of maintenance recommendations from manufacturers, but they all require regular maintenance of some kind. Always follow the maintenance schedule given to you by the manufacture, but rinse and inspect your computer a few times over the course of the season – you may be able to prevent an issue with flooding or damage from salt buildup. Rinse your computer with fresh water after every dive, and inspect the sealing O-rings for dirt or signs of age, and the batteries to make sure they are fully charged for your next dive outing.
Regulators are a critical part of your safety as a diver, and regular maintenance is essential to reducing your risk of a regulator failure. Your regulators should be maintained by a qualified technician every year, or as frequently as the manufacturer recommends, but it is your responsibility to rinse the regulator after every use and watch for signs of wear. Cracking on the hoses, O-rings, or regulator face plates are common indicators of age or damage, as are swivels that no longer move freely, or regulators that free-flow too easily. After a dive, always replace your dust cap, rinse the regulator, and store it in a cool, dry area.