These articles are a compilation which appeared in past newsletters. These hints and tips were meant to help you maintain your gear in top condition at a minimum expense.
RINSING YOUR REGULATORS
Do not soak your regulator. More damage is done in the rinse tank than all the dives you will ever do with your regulator . Proper rinsing involves only running tap water onto the mouth piece and over the caped 1st stage. Use of terry cloth or brush helps. More permanent damaged is caused by improper rinsing and water entering the internals! Be mindful of the divemasters at the resort. Although meaning well, they will sometimes dunk your entire kit in dirty rinse water.
RINSING YOUR BCD
Considering the investment you made purchasing your BCD, a little care will make it last much longer. In a nutshell; rinse the bc inside and out, drain the bladder-if water still tastes salty after ocean diving-rinse again, inspect the bc for wear and tear, and air dry while fully inflated. Do not store it away until completely dry. For most items of scuba gear, salt is a real killer. If you let it dry on your equipment, corrosive or abrasive damage is likely to occur. That's also true for BCs, but they are even more susceptible to damage by chlorine. Most of the materials used in the construction of BC's are fairly resistant to the effects of saltwater. Chlorine pool water, however, will quickly break down rubbers and plastics. Manufacturers recommend rinsing your BC immediately after exiting a pool.
WHEN TO BUY GEAR
To rent or to own That is the question. At some point, the cost of renting will exceed the cost of owning your own dive equipment. Of course, that point will depend on how much you dive and how well you maintain your equipment.
There are lots of variables, so lets assume that Joe S. Diver dives locally 10 weekends per year. This equates to 40 dives per year. Joe owns most of his personal gear, so he needs to rent only his 2 tanks, BCD, wet suit, and regulator. Using weekend two day rates, it costs $69.00 to rent his gear. In 10 weekends, it will cost $690, and over a 5 year period it will cost $3450.
If Joe would have bought all this gear outright, it would have cost only $1529. Assuming Joe is a Responsible Diver, he has the annual maintenance done. Adding in maintenance costs over 5 years totals $1912. Adding air fills for the 5 year period would total $2476. Joe could have saved $974 if he had bought his gear. He could have also saved hundreds of hours because of the convenience of having the gear on hand and knowing the gear was available, would fit right every time, and being familiar with his own gear would make his diving more enjoyable.
So where is the break even point? How much must you dive in order for it to be cheaper to own your equipment? Well, for Joe S. Diver, it would be 33 weekends over 5 years or the equivalent of only 26 dives per year!
If Joe rented only tanks, the break even point would be slightly higher. This is because the cost to rent tanks is lower and you have to buy airfills for your own tanks. The break even point is 43 weekends over 5 years or 34 dives per year.
Additionally, The BASC gives huge discounts when you buy all your gear at the same time. Joe would have paid $180 less for his gear using this discount.
Of course, your figures may vary. You may do more island diving and less local diving than Joe. This means it would be more economical for you to rent tanks when needed but own the rest of your gear. The BASC always has plenty of equipment to rent. These figures were over a 5 year span. After 5 years, you will probably have to replace your wet suit and maybe BCD. Your tanks and regulator will last much longer, bringing the cost-to-own down even further!
How often should an inspection be done? From my experience, one year is the perfect time period for the inspection cycle. Of course, the best time is during the winter when you are not using it. Unless you're going to Bonaire for a week. Then, one week before is not a good time. Four weeks before is a good time. If you dive master ocean trips every weekend, then 2 or 3 times during the season is a good idea. I encourage anyone to bring in their gear for a test on a tank or free adjustment anytime before a trip.
What all is done to your gear when you drop it off for annual inspection? Besides satisfying the manufacturer's warranty requirements of having your regulator serviced annually, we do much more while it is in the service shop. We clean, lubricate and adjust it to prepare for the coming dive year. We also check for worn parts such as pistons, seats, and o-rings, and check that all parts are working properly. Many times we will find something working incorrectly that was not obvious to the customer. Some parts are routinely replaced at each inspection. We also do the extra things that will help the gear last longer, such as a little silicone grease under the bleed valve, yoke screws and pressure gauge stem threads to prevent corrosion. We also take note and alert the customer of problems he may be causing such as incorrect rinsing or storage of his gear. Depth gauges, timers, and computers are tested upon request.
What is the difference between an inspection and an overhaul? Inspection requires disassembly, cleaning, lubrication, replacement of annual parts, and adjustment of the gear. You may be charged a little extra for an overhaul if additional cleaning or repair is required.
We have never been the type who send out notices that your equipment is due its annual service, although that could change if enough gear owners requested it. Most of our customers automatically bring their gear in on the anniversary of it's purchase. However, if you've forgotten, and you are going to use your gear this spring or are planning a summer trip, please don't wait less than three weeks before hand to have it serviced. Turnaround time varies between one and three weeks. Tank vips take a couple of days and hydros take a minimum of one week.
Why do you have to have your tank VIP'd every year? We are looking for certain problems involving damage to the cylinder. The biggest problem would be moisture and/or salt in the tank. Salt water in a tank could destroy it in a few weeks. We don't actually want to fill a tank that has been damaged or our personal injury could result. We look for cracks, pits, dents, and external problems. The neck threads of aluminum tanks are tested for stress cracks using the Visual Plus eddy current tester. Any tank that has been freshly painted will be questioned about the paint drying techniques. No scuba tank should ever be heated for any reason. We check the valve for operation, leaks, and the burst disk for proper type and size. The cost of repairing a worn valve or replacing an old burst disk is not normally included in the cost of the inspection.
All manufacturer's have changed from a lifetime warranty to a one or two year warranty. For a warranty to be valid, the original owner must provide proof of annual service and original purchase. Read the warranty in your owner's manual. There are some exceptions, such as: gauges, hoses, seats, and o-rings which are common overhaul parts. For Aqualung, please bring your Passport, Service Record or User Manual. An annual service parts warranty only covers the kit used during the annual service. Proof of annual service as long as you owned it is required.
OLDER SUUNTO DIVE COMPUTERS
Some older Gecko, Cobra, D9 and Vyper dive computers made by Suunto have exhibited a failure of the depth sensors. The sensor is encapsulated in a soft silicone gel that is easily damaged by the environment. After 7 to 10 years, these sensors have been failing in a mode that displays erroneous zero or deep depths even when at the surface. This is seen soon after turning the unit on as registering a depth and staying in dive mode or not registering a depth when descending. Replacing the battery will not fix the problem. The only repair route is to replace the module with a new one. Unfortunately, a module costs the same as a completely new unit. Suunto has extended the warranty on some computers to accommodate the failures, taken on a case by case basis. On September 1, 2016, Suunto announced a trade-in program for a new Suunto computer. Here are a few Scubaboard articles featuring a similar problem.
So not use compressed air to clean or dry any dive computer as this will damage the depth sensor beyond repair.