Of course dive gear like your regulator will need a regular service (most manufacturers recommend every 100 dives or every 2 years, whichever comes first) which can be done by us or any registered service center, but to prevent high costs of replacement of certain parts it’s important to clean all your gear after every day of diving.
Cleaning Dive Gear
When we clean and check our returned rental regulators, we follow 10 steps.
Often people make remarks on how good our rental gear looks. More important on the maintenance and cost side, the yearly servicing of our regs is an easy job with no corrosion to soak and scrub off. Below are the most important steps of our regulator cleaning routine.
During your dive week you can just rinse your gear in the rinse tank at the end of a dive, but it is well worth the time and effort after the last dive to do the full clean before storing your gear.
Check that the dust cap has no salt water in it, if yes, wash it out while keeping your thumb on the opening of the first stage so water doesn’t go in. Dry the dust cap by blowing it out with a tank, then put it back on the first stage and close to seal tightly.
Pull the hose protectors away from where the hoses connect to the first and second stages. Let the tap water run through the holes in the first stage, you must see the water running out of the holes (not all regulators have holes in the first stage by the way, for these sealed first stages you can omit this step).
Let the tap water run through the two mouthpieces and exhausts of the second stages. Do not press the purge button while doing this! If you do happen to press the purge button, make sure that you put the reg back on a tank and purge the second stages a number of times to get all water out.
Do check the bite tabs on the mouthpieces and inspect around the tie wrap for small holes. For hygienic purposes at this point we generously sponge soapy antibacterial dish liquid thoroughly around the mouth piece.
With your still soapy sponge, wipe over the second stage covers and all metal parts – this helps to remove salt and chemical residue. At this point you can also check your hoses for any wear and tear.
Finally, submerge the regulator (except the 1st stage) in a rinse tank of fresh water and soak for at least 5 minutes. Put the reg on a tank and purge the 2nd stages to remove any water left in the system. Take the 1st stage off the tank and seal it with the dust cap.
Hang the reg up to dry (if outside keep out of the sun). Make sure the hose protectors are not covering the metal parts.
Once dry, use Silicone Spray to spray the thread of 1st stage knob while screwing it in and out to ensure even distribution of the silicone over all the threads. Spray in and around the BCD quick disconnect while pulling it backwards and releasing it a few times. Spray the metal parts on the hoses close to the 1st and 2nd stages with Silicone Spray and push back the hose protectors.
What to do if you flooded your first stage regulator by not closing the dust cap while rinsing?
Firstly, it’s not that bad if you flood it with fresh water. If your regulator is flooded with salt water, rinse with fresh water immediately, to avoid corrosion. The main thing that you want to avoid is pressurizing the regulator while there is water inside and a computer or SPG attached. This could potentially damage your instruments downstream. Do not attempt this yourself – as soon as you can take your regulator to a regulator service technician – he/ she will do the following:
Immediately remove hoses and gauges, leaving only the second stage regulators attached to the low pressure portion of your 1st stage.
Rinse the first stage with fresh water if necessary (i.e., if you suspect that you have salt water or other contaminants inside the first stage).
Attach the first stage to a tank and slowly turn on the air. The service tech will be flushing all water out the high pressure ports. He will then slowly purge the second stages so that any water in the hoses will also be pushed out of the system. Warning: don’t ever pressurize a 1st stage regulator on a tank without a way to depressurize, such as having a second stage attached or a port open. If you do, good luck ever getting that thing off!
Last, if in a reasonably non-humid environment, the tech should let the whole thing sit out with ports out for a few hours to let any moisture evaporate before reassembling the regulator. While the regulator tech is working on your regulator, take your computer/ SPG and hold it at the gauge end and give it a good twirling to get any residual moisture or liquid out of the hose. It is very unlikely that you got any water through the pinprick-sized hole if you didn’t pressurize the system wet, but this is just for good measure (and a little bit of fun). Be sure you don’t accidentally his anyone with the hose or drop your gauges.
What is described here is just an immediate remedy to avoid and/ or mitigate the damage done by flooding, most of which is corrosion. Please take into consideration that your situation may vary depending on what type of water you got into your regulator and the type of regulator you have. Whatever you do immediately after flooding your regulator, you should definitely have it fully serviced as soon as possible. Regulators are expensive and sophisticated pieces of gear that our lives depend on, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Be sure to soak your dive computer in fresh water after every dive. While submerged, depress all of the buttons a few times to get all the salt water out of them. Be sure to dry out of direct sunlight.
If your dive computer Floods!
If it is a user replaceable battery type, immediately remove the back cover and remove and discard the battery. Use compressed air to blow all water out of the battery compartment. Once completely dry insert a new battery and test. Make sure to use a battery replacement kit from the manufacturer of your dive computer – these usually come with new o’rings and back plate. It is important to replace these as they are the most likely culprits for the flooding. Check also for other damage to the computer that may have been the cause of the flooding. Non-user replaceable battery types will need to be sent to a service center or back to the manufacturer for repair.
The most important part of cleaning a BCD is to rinse away any salt water from the inside of the bladder, the dump valves and the inflator/deflator unit and hose. To prevent corrosion in your inflator unit, clean it by flushing the inside with fresh water. With the inflator unit mouthpiece held tight to the faucet of running tap water alternately push the inflator and deflator buttons. You should see the water coming out of the nipple, and water should be going into the BCD. The tap needs to be quite far open as you need good water pressure to flush the valve. Watch out – you might get wet!
Fill the BCD with some more fresh water. To do this you can remove a dump valve (be sure not to loose the gasket and be sure not to cross-thread when replacing); however the best (although not the easiest) is to do as in above, pressing the deflate button. Make sure the BCD is empty of air and below the incoming water. Slosh the water around to rinse every corner of the bladder.
Inflate the bladder (either by mouth or by regulator attached to a tank), make one of the dump valves the lowest point, and in 1 fluid movement squeeze the BCD and dump at the same time to force water through the dump valve. Fill and repeat to flush the rest of the dump valves. Once all the valves are flushed, empty the BCD of all water. Fully inflate the BCD and hang out of sunlight to dry. The reason to fully inflate the BCD is to check it’s air holding integrity – if the BCD is deflated when it is dry there is likely a leak somewhere in the system. If drying space is at a premium, just inflate with a little air and after drying fill with air to do the integrity test.
To clean your wetsuit you can use a little bit of dishwashing liquid in a basin full of fresh water. Soak well with a bit of movement to wash the wetsuit inside out before hanging it up to dry. If outside, make sure you hang the wetsuit out of direct sunlight. Aloha Ocean Adventures sells “Sink the Stink”, a soapy solution to get the smell out of your wetsuit if you have not kept up with a proper cleaning routine before ?