Okey dokey, so you have spent thousands of pounds on your brand new gear. You have a mask that makes you look like a pro, a new shiny carbon regulator and a slick-looking BCD, and a wetsuit that any star trek enthusiast would kill for. It is no brainer that well-looked-after dive equipment will accompany you on your scuba adventures for much longer than the equipment that is just chucked and left in a wet box for days.
During entry-level courses, I have always been trying to enforce good equipment care practices, and most likely, your instructor did too, but it does not come naturally to many scuba divers. There are three main benefits of looking after your diving equipment:
- Dive safety - after all, your equipment is life-sustaining gear. Look after it, and it will look after you in return.
- Hygiene - well-maintained equipment decreases the chances of infections from bacteria, viruses and fungi.
- Practical and money-saving - extending the life span of your equipment will save you money in the long run.
Rinse your scuba gear after a diving day
Rinsing your scuba gear is your first step in looking after your equipment. Rinsing your dive gear will get rid of the salt. Salt has corrosive effects on all kinds of materials and is not a friend to your scuba gear. Rinsing your equipment is particularly important in the case of our BCDs. Yes, your BCD bladder is made with antibacterial additives to resist fungal growth. Still, there are thousands of microorganisms in every drop of seawater, and leaving them to brew in unwashed BCD, drysuit, boots etc., can come to haunt you later.
Disinfect and dry your scuba gear
I have always been using some disinfectant after a diving day or before more prolonged storage. Our BCD and wetsuit shampoos, such as McNett BC Life Conditioner, McNett Wet and Dry Suit Shampoo or Slosh Wetsuit Shampoo and Cleaner, are very effective and inexpensive ways of disinfecting your scuba gear before storage. Using a dedicated detergent will prevent bacteria, viruses and fungi from forming on the inside of the bladder. If you have no access to the above, you can use medical disinfectant solutions widely available in drug stores such as Milton. Any dump and wet condition will stimulate the growth of microorganisms after a while. Therefore you need to dry washed equipment thoroughly before a longer storage period.
Visually Inspect your dive gear
As one expert once said, most diving incidents and accidents happen before the diver leaves the house. Many stressful situations can be avoided by checking your equipment before your dive or even before you leave the house. Inspecting your equipment is one of the fundamental good care practices and applies to hoses, valves, and zippers.
- Regulators - check hoses and connections and if the O-ring is in place.
- Computers - check battery status and see if it needs changing.
- BCD - check if the inflator is in working order, if BCD holds positive pressure, if all the dump valves are in working order, and if pull lines are not missing.
- Drysuits - check the integrity of your zipper, valves and seals.
- Cylinders - check the cylinder before a dive trip to see if all the tests are valid.
Deep-clean your scuba gear regularly
You would not believe how many divers dump their masks after diving or leave them in a wet BCD pocket. This is when a simple old toothbrush comes in handy. Grab a toothbrush and give your equipment a good clean - a toothbrush will help dislodge any salt crystals, dirt and debris from your equipment and make it nice, clean and ready for your next diving adventure.
Store your equipment correctly
One of my mates took out a wetsuit during the first day of our Red Sea trip, only to find out that a few chunks of his one-season-old fancy wetsuit had a few chips of neoprene missing. After closer inspection, it had bite marks all over it. One of our dive guides told us it was most likely a rodent, such as mice, rats or ferrets. A lot of people are storing their equipment in a shed, and unfortunately, that's is not the safest place. It can also be damp and can stimulate mould growth, and of course, you may have some unwanted rodents finding their way to nibble your neoprene or rubber parts of your scuba equipment. Utilising your garage as dive equipment storage is a much better place as it should be much dryer and rodent free.
- Regulators - store in a dry place with hoses straighten to reduce stress on them
- Wetsuits and neoprene accessories - hang dry after the antibacterial treatment, hang on a wide, dedicated hanger, or lay your wetsuit flat, avoiding folding.
- Drysuits - zippers well lubricated and closed and drysuit laying flat or hung on a dedicated drysuit hanger
- BCDs - store BCD lightly inflated so the silicone walls do not stick together and hang on a dedicated hanger - avoid leaving BCD on a floor.
- Cylinders - store dive cylinders upright in a secure place, and if they are unused for an extended time, keep the pressure of around 10-20 bar.
Remember to service your equipment
No matter how carefully you clean and inspect your diving kit, there will always be wear and tear, so regular servicing is essential. Remember, we offer to service your BCDs, Regulators and Drysuit Repairs. This is LIFE SUPPORT equipment at the end of the day, so don't risk yours by scrimping on cleaning and regular servicing following the manufacturers' recommendations. If you doubt anything, then you should have a professional service technician check it out. Better safe than sorry.