Are you ready for the upcoming season? Read through our checklist and be ready to go.
Whilst here in Queensland we have relatively mild winters, many still don’t dive during this time and will be itching to get in the water now that it will be warming up. If you were sensible during the winter period, it was the perfect time to have your gear serviced so you are ready to go, but if you didn’t, now is the opportune time to dust off your gear and give it a good going over to pick up on any problems early. Don’t leave it until your out on the water to do your checks.
Although nothing will beat having a proper service, this guide will help take you through some relatively simple but well advised health checks.
You can have the most expensive and finely tuned regs in the world but if your hoses are cared for and regularly checked its not going to mean anything when your air is streaming out of a split or worse. Split hoses could empty out your cylinder faster than you can reach the surface!
Check for perishing, cuts or anything missing, particularly at the ends. If you have hose protectors, slide them down and check beneath them as well. Never pull too hard though when doing this as this can damage the different layers within the hose. If it is a little difficult to budge try some soapy water between the hose and the protector, twist clockwise (this will prevent the hose unscrewing from your first stage).
Whilst some tiny perish cracks may be tolerable, if there’s anything bigger it is advisable to replace it. Also look for any bubbles forming under the outer skin, this is an obvious sing of a break down in the inner layers. This would more than likely be on your high-pressure hose.
Something remarkably simple to do but is often overlooked is the wet test. Simply place an assembled and pressurised reg set into a bath full of water and leave to settle for a short while.
What you will be looking for here is any bubbles flowing from the first stage, any of the ports, second stage connections or high pressure gauge/instrument connections. Anything coming from these places indicates a problem.
If there is air escaping from within the second stage, either the first stage intermediate pressure is too high or creeping, the second stage valve seat could be heavily worn and not sealing properly. This problem will require investigation by a trained technician.
We all know there are some divers that tend to eat their mouthpieces, so always check the condition of yours. Check the teeth grips for missing lugs or splits plus any type of perishing. If you need to replace the mouthpiece, make sure you get the correct one as there are various sizes and fitting the incorrect size will lead to problems.
If you find yourself going through more than one mouthpiece per year you should consider getting yourself a high quality mouthpiece. Ozaquatec Scuba Service Centre can provide a range of mouthpieces.
Not a lot can go wrong here. If your wet test found bubbles trickling out of the gauge, it is likely that the air-spool swivel inside the connection will need new O-rings.
It’s a rubber component so it will be subject to the abuse of salt water, chlorine and other corrosive substances during its life and it will eventually perish. Be sure to check each ring, perishing and splits are easily seen by stretching and bending the hose. Check that the cable ties at each end are also tight and secure. This last thing you want is to pull off the inflator or hose assembly… it probably will ruin your dive.
These buttons generally don’t require anything more than just an operational check over to make sure that they actually do what they are intended to do. With the inflator hose connected and your reg set pressurised, make sure that the BC inflates and deflates when the respective button is pressed.
Also be sure to check that the oral inflation works correctly. Blow into the mouthpiece whilst holding the deflate button down to manually inflate the BC, release the button to prevent the air coming back out.
With the system still pressurised and the hose connected to the BC dunk the inflator assembly in some water to check for any escaping air, particularly around the hose connection.
BCs typically have four means of releasing air these days, a dump valve on your right shoulder, one on your left or right hip, usually one incorporated into the inflator shoulder assembly, and lets not forget that all important deflate button on the inflator assembly.
Make sure that the pull strings are not frayed, particularly where they enter the valve or pull handle which are chafe areas. The dump valves usually double up as a pressure release valve to prevent damage occurring from over inflation. Inflate the BC until the valves are forced open to release the excess air before sealing once maximum pressure has been restored. With the BC full of air test that each dump valve opens and seals correctly. Any air hissing out indicates a dislodged or damaged seal.
Now all that is left to do is check the integrity of the BC itself. Fully inflate your BC to the maximum pressure disconnect the inflator hose and leave the BC for a few hours. If when you come back it is still nicely inflated there are no issues, however, if the BC has noticeably deflated some investigatory work will need to be done to locate the leak. The easiest place for this is in a pool with the aid of a willing assistant to run around all the seals and hunt down the hole or guilty valve. Otherwise take it into your nearest service centre for fixing.
Check out our next blog on the rest of your gear you should be checking but probably overlook!