BCD Care and Maintenance

Scuba diving can be an expensive sport and the gear you require can cost you a small fortune. So, after spending all that money why would you not look after it, right? Too often we see gear brought in for servicing and it is beyond repair. It’s been stored in the bottom of a cupboard or garage, not cleaned properly after use and between the salt corrosion and the insects having a feast, its not worth servicing…. So now you up for a new piece of eqipment.

Follow the tips below for preventative maintenance and protect your gear the correct way. And remember get your gear serviced by a reputable Service Centre like Ozaquatec Scuba Service Centre.

General BCD Maintenance

  • Avoid prolonged exposure to direct sunlight and extreme heat. Nylon fabric can quickly fade when exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, and extreme heat may damage the welded seams of the BC’s air cell.
  • Avoid repeated or prolonged use in heavily chlorinated water, which can cause the BC fabric to discolour and decay prematurely.
  • Do not allow the BC to chafe against any sharp objects or rough surfaces that could abrade or puncture the air cell. Do not set or drop heavy objects such as block weights on the BC.
  • Avoid any contact with oil, gasoline, aerosols, or chemical solvents.

BCD Exterior Cleaning

Fresh, clean water is all that is normally needed to clean your BCD, though you may use a mild dishwashing liquid detergent diluted in fresh water, or a commercial BCD conditioner, in the final rinse to inhibit the growth of mould or mildew and to keep the BCD fresh and odour-free. The best way to prevent the growth of harmful moulds and bacteria is to use the BCD frequently in salt water. Salt water effectively inhibits the growth of fungus and moulds, and most materials used in the BCD are impervious to salt water.

Never use solvents since they may attack the fabrics, bladders, glues or fasteners. Cleaning is especially recommended immediately after use in a chlorinated pool, as chlorinated water will quickly break down rubbers and plastics.

Soak

Do not allow the BC to chafe against any sharp objects or rough surfaces that could abrade or puncture the air cell. Do not set or drop heavy objects such as block weights on the BC.

Check for Leaks

Partially inflate your BCD and put it in the rinse sink. Move the BCD around and put a little pressure on it. See if you can see any bubbles escaping. If you do, ensure you mark the area of the leak. Allow your BCD to dry and then have it repaired.

Work Moving Parts

Work any moving parts while submerged to get all gritty particles out. Depress the oral inflation buttons and power inflation buttons to make sure they move freely. You should do this both in the soak/rinse tub and outside the tub. If they seem sticky, there may be sand or corrosion hindering the movement. If you rinse the BCD and they still seem sticky, you should have them checked out by Ozaquatec Scuba Service Centre. The last thing you want is to have the power inflation button stick on a dive and rocket you to the surface.

Rinse Outside

After you have let the BCD soak for a while, we recommend at least 30 minutes or longer, thoroughly rinse it off with a hose or shower head.

Zippers

Work the zippers back and forth to ensure they move freely. Rub zipper wax, paraffin wax, beeswax or whatever other non-petroleum-based wax you may know about, on the outside edges of the zipper. You don’t need a lot, just a light coat. Then work the zipper back and forth.

Clean Velcro

Use a toothbrush to remove sand and any other debris from Velcro and other nooks and crannies.

BCD Interior Cleaning

When it comes to washing your BCD, it’s just as important to not only rinse the exterior with fresh clean water, but also the interior of the air cell or bladder. During a dive, saltwater leaks into the BCD bladder through the dump valves and the low-pressure inflator and must be drained out during your post-dive maintenance routine. If you don’t do this you run the risk of the salt water in your BCD bladder once evaporated leaving salt crystals – some of which can be large enough to act like a piece of glass which may tear or rupture the bladder bag. Giving it a good internal rinse will help eliminate this.

To do this, use a garden hose to flush fresh water into the BCD’s bladder via the low-pressure oral inflator, making sure to hold down the deflate button as you do so.

Allow the water to flow into the BCD bladder until it is approximately one quarter full, and then orally inflate it. Doing this will allow the water to easily circulate around the inside of the BCD. Then give it a shake vigorously, making sure that the water reaches every part of the BCD bladder before pulling the ball/cord assembly and allowing the water to drain through the OPV/dump valves, simultaneously rinsing them too.

Repeat this until the water that drains out doesn’t have a salty taste. Fill with air and deflate with force to push as much “wet air” out as possible. Repeat as many times as necessary until the air being expelled is as dry as possible.

Once this has been done, fully inflate the BC, and allow it to fully dry inside and out.

How to Inspect your BCD

Before you store your BCD, take a good look to see if there are any loose threads, seams or tears. Easier to take care of any issues before they became too big or cause a problem underwater.

Look for small tears and punctures, loose stitching, and stressed fasteners.

Before your next dive trip, fully inflate your BCD until the over pressure valve (OPV) releases, let it sit for 30 minutes and then check to see it is still fully inflated. If not, it’s leaking. The cause of a leak may just be a dirty salt encrusted OPV that can be rinsed with fresh water.

It’s also good practice to occasionally hook up your power inflator hose to the BCD, pressurise the regulator, deflate the bladder and let the BCD sit for a while (the longer the better, for example, overnight). Then see if the BCD has ‘self-inflated’. If it has, the power inflator is dribbling gas and should be replaced.

Storing your BCD

Storing your BCD correctly is just as imperative as cleaning it. The best way is to partially inflate it and store in a cool, clean, dry place, away from direct sunlight, fumes, solvents, and chemicals. The partial inflation will prevent the insides of the BCD from sticking together. To avoid stress on the air cell or harness assembly, ensure you remove all weight from the trim weight and releasable compartments before storing the BC. Soft weights especially, can discolour the BC over time.

Store the BCD with the hose on the downward side, so that residual moisture drains to the hose assembly. Then after a day or two, depress the inflator button to allow any residual water to drain out.

For prolonged storage, a small amount of silicone lubricant may be applied to the rubber parts of the BCD, but do not spray silicone inside the bag itself or on to the oral or power inflator mouthpiece assemblies.

Do not store the BC in an enclosed space, such as a car boot/trunk or even the garage, where it may be exposed to temperatures below -18°C (0°F) or above 49°C (120°F) and insects/bugs. The cockroaches love getting in them and eating away at it.

If you are going to store your BCD in your dive bag at least make sure it, and any other gear is bone dry. The last thing you need is mould to form on your expensive equipment.

If you’re going to hang your BCD up to dry for short or long-term storage use a good strong BCD hanger.

BCD Servicing

Most BCD manufacturers recommend regular and annual servicing consisting of cleaning, inspection and lubrication of specified parts. In fact, many manufacturers offer limited lifetime warranties that remain valid only if the BCD is serviced annually.

CAUTION:

DO NOT attempt to perform any disassembly or service of your BC. Service requiring disassembly must only be performed by a trained technician. To obtain any service or repair, it is important to bring your BC to an Authorised Service Centre like Ozaquatec Scuba Service Centre.

Stay on top of your buoyancy compensator device and its servicing, it will then last you a long time and save you money by not having to buy a new one.

No matter how diligently you take care of your BCD, make sure to fully check and test it before use to ensure that it’s in full working order.

Need a new BCD? Take a look at the BCD’s we have available in our online shop.

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