The core winter is over now, at last so a lot of you will be looking to get out your scuba gear and start planning your diving activities.
It goes without saying, when you take care of your gear it will prolong its life and make your dives safer. Pre-dive and post dive care of equipment is essential; washing, cleaning and inspecting it is just part of everyday routine.
Now, after the winter break for those who aren’t tempted to dive in winter, it’s time to get your gear out and complete a step by step inspection. Let’s have a look to see what we should inspect after you remove it from its storage place:
Mask, Fins and Snorkel: Remove fin and mask straps, including the ‘slap’ cover on your mask strap. Stretch them out and check for small splits and cracks, remember- small splits soon turn into a broken fin or mask strap, replace it for a new one. Check the silicon around your mask skirt, paying attention to outer edges for splits and uneven contours. Next, check out your snorkel tube and its flexible mid-section if you have one, inspect the mouth piece for any tears or missing teeth rests. Last, but not least check out all buckles, making sure all pins inside some buckles are in place and not clogged with debris and mask lens are tight and correctly fitted.
Regulators and Gauges: Visually inspect all hoses for cracks, including moving the hose protectors (this is a vulnerable place). Check the mouth pieces of both primary second stage and octopus, make sure there is no corrosion on any metal parts and regulator covers have no cracks. Any signs of cracked hoses and corrosion must be dealt with by a qualified technician and get the set fully serviced if required. Attach your regulator set to a cylinder and open the valve slowly, listen for any sounds of air leakage. Now the hoses are full of air, inspect them again for any damage and cracks. Remove the regulator from the tank, close off the dust cap and inhale forcefully through each regulator, they should hold a vacuum not letting any air in, or very little depending on the model.Now check the SPG for any fluid leakage or damage to the hose and swivel section. Some divers use computers, check here the battery life and wrist strap for tears and signs of fringing. Compasses must be checked by rotating yourself and checking needle response, check for leaks and tears in the strap if it is a wrist version. Make sure the bezel is free from debris and dirt and turns with ease.
BCDs: To check your BCD, connect it to your regulator hose, which should be attached to a tank. Slowly inflate the BCD and listen for air leaking out, when half full deflate, then inflate to full capacity until the BCDs pressure relief valve releases itself. Disconnect the BCD from the regulator, fully inflated and leave standing for 30 minutes. Check the cummerbund, shoulder pads and straps, tank band and buckle for any signs of excessive wear. The inflate and deflate button should work freely and accordingly, check the inflator hose for any sign of leakage or tears, this may involve stretching the inflator hose a little inspecting each groove. If the BCD loses air or shows signs of deflation, it should be taken to a qualified technician for service.
Exposure Suits: Lay out on a flat surface and inspect for cuts, tears and holes. Check out neck and cuff seams, any missing, or loose thread may pull and form holes in the seams. Zips should be well lubricated and move freely, free from debris or foreign objects. Dry suits require more detailed inspection, especially around the neck and cuff seals. Any imperfections here could lead to a leak and need to be attended to. Zips should move freely and be well waxed, checkout the area around the zip and the material that holds the zip in place. Boots should be inspected for holes, cracks and imperfections. The dump valve and air inlet valve should also work easily and rotate without friction. It is best to attach your dry suit inlet valve to your dry suit hose, which should be attached to a cylinder, inflate the suit and make sure the inlet valve works accordingly.Try to fold your dry suit quickly to check the deflate valve, providing you can keep air trapped inside your dry suit. If you require to patch your dry suit, often 24 hours will be required for it to dry and be functionable. It’s best to check out your dry suit, at least a week prior to wanting to use it.
Remember, good functioning well serviced gear will last much longer and it improves every chance of a safe dive…….Safe diving to everyone!
Why not check out our PADI Equipment Specialty course at DiveSMARTGozo and learn more about your gear.