Notes about things regarding scuba diving that I have come to know.

SHOWING YOUR GEAR SOME LOVE
(CLEANING IT)

Introduction * Neoprene items * Buoyancy Compensator * Regulator set * Other gear

It is important to take good care of your dive gear. It is a major investment and your life depends on it. Salt water in particular is nasty stuff when it dries and every dive is an opportunity for sediment and other debris to get into your gear. The cleaning process is also a time to be looking for wear and damage. What follows is what works for us. Be sure to read and understand your gear manuals. When in doubt consult your servicing dealer.

If you can have a location set aside for cleaning your gear that is great. I have barrel and a tub that I keep filled and covered between dives so that it is sun warmed when we get home. The warm water will better dissolve salt and is more comfortable to splash around in. I also built a wooden rack that looks like a porcupine with 1/2 inch dowels sticking off of it. The dowels and some fin holders let us rinse all of the odds and ends then roll the whole collection into the garage to dry.

NEOPRENE
When we get home all of the neoprene items get a vigorous dunking and either go on the rolling rack or get hung on padded hangers to dry. We leave the wetsuits inside out. In the nicer months they may not get to dry fully and I'd rather have the inside dry for easy donning. Padded hangers are important. The padding distributes the weight of the suit and prevents crushing or creasing of the neoprene. Dive shops sell special hangers. You can add foam pipe insulation to a sturdy hanger as a DIY solution.

Over time your neoprene may acquire a foul stench. This is probably due to aquatic organisms that have moved in and died. In all likelihood it has nothing to do with peeing in your wetsuit. There are enzyme based odor removers sold in dive shops as well as general merchandise stores that will eliminate the odor. The important thing is to rinse the suit in the diluted solution and leave it to dry. Do not rinse the solution off with a hose or a clear water dunk. The solution wants to remain on the suit to have time to work.

Ozone and hydrocarbons are neoprene's enemy. Don't store your gear near brush type motor or sources of ignition sparks like an oil burner. Also do not store your gear in an enclosed space that may have gasoline vapors in the air.

Your BC
It's normal for water to get into your BC and you will surely accumulate a lot if you don't empty it after every dive day. It's good practice to dump accumulated water at every tank change. While it's very important to rinse after diving in salt water to prevent salt deposits it can be argued that it's just important in fresh water to avoid stinky unhealthy gear. If you have been in the pool you can lessen the effects of chlorine by getting things rinsed in non pool water ASAP. Besides it's all a huge investment, show your gear some love.

With our BCs I start by removing and weights, lights and other significant accessories. Orally inflate the BCs and drain any water they contain. I then sink them in a barrel of fresh rinse water and let them soak while I deal with other gear. When I get back to them I hold the dump button of the inflator in and using the hose load a quart or better of water down the hose. Orally add a few good breaths to inflate the bladder. Pick it up and slosh it around thoroughly. Then drain it. I repeat this 2 more times. Be sure to exercise all of the dump valves as you go through this. I also press the inflate button on the third rinse when the water is the cleanest. Then hang it to dry, orally inflate it so that the bladder walls don't cling together and prop the inflator valve up on the hanger at the highpoint. You should have a special BC hanger or some sort of rack that will support the item safely. Leaving it inflated will also provide a good leak check when you return to your gear. Wearing a raincoat to do this rinsing process makes it a lot easier in cool weather. When it gets downright cold find a place indoors.

Your REGULATOR Set
It's important to rinse your regulator after every open water dive day. There are several important points to remember. First is that keeping water out of the system is very important. Second is that you want to cleanse the system of any debris that may have gotten into exposed or semi exposed locations. Keep your eyes open, every gear cleaning session is a chance to notice cracks, abrasions and other warning signs.

You never want your first stage inlet (the tank connection) to be open to the water. You never want an unpressurized second stage's purge button pressed in water since this may admit water. This water can migrate back into your system and cause regulator of pressure gauge failure.

To keep water out of the system the only sure fire method is to connect your rig to an air cylinder and pressurize it. While connecting my regulator and pressurizing it I fill a nice clean white pail with water. I then place my second stages, console and QD connectors in the pail of fresh water. Next I take the hose and thoroughly spray the first stage, cylinder, hoses . Flush and check strain relief's. Be sure to tip the tank up and flush the bottom and boot every which way as well. Now go tend to some other gear.

When you return, swish the QD connector(s) and remove them from the water. Next swish the console or gauge and set it aside. Now take a second stage and swish it around then do so while working the purge valve. Even if you're keeping your second stages out of the sand it's surprising what you will find after some dives.

Close the cylinder valve and purge the system down. Disconnect your first stage from the cylinder. Hold the dust cap in front of the tank valve making sure the first stage inlet is out of the line of fire and crack the cylinder valve to blow the cap clean and dry. Then install then dust cap. Now just hang your regulator set to dry.

Use some tank air to dry the valve fitting cover as well. Some prefer to leave the cap of for a while to let it all thoroughly air dry. We happen to be using DIN fittings and my priority is to keep those threads clean. If possible do this cleaning before getting your cylinders refilled though it should consume no more than 100 PSI.

Other Gear
Be sure to rinse and dry your snorkel, lights, reels, SMB and all of the rest. If you put some time on your lights it's a good idea to somehow track burn time so you have some battery status. It's your decision how often to open the lights for inspection. Be sure to have some silicone grease to regrease the o-ring with.

This page created 3/28/06 **** Edited 5/31/06