In Part 1 of this article, we covered the history of the on-demand scuba regulator. Now let’s talk about the importance of maintaining your scuba regulator for peak performance and maximum dive safety.
Ocean divers learn early the importance of rinsing their dive gear thoroughly in fresh water after every dive. Salt crystals left behind after seawater evaporates are the main source of corrosion on metal components and can wreak havoc with rubber hoses and o-rings, latex and neoprene seals, and just about everything that a diver wears or carries underwater. For instructors and dive students, the chlorine found in swimming pools is another source of stress for scuba equipment. But even with careful post-dive cleaning, the internal components of the regulator’s first and second stages are subject to wear; after all, the valves, springs, and diaphragms are moving parts! Surfaces glaze, making the mechanical operation less smooth. Springs weaken, o-rings get brittle, metal surfaces begin to corrode. This unavoidable deterioration, if left unchecked, will almost always lead to a scuba regulator that does not function as well as it should, and which may fail—either gradually or catastrophically—during the course of a dive.
For a single life-support device to perform correctly under these demanding and changing conditions, it is critical that every diver properly maintain their scuba regulator. The most reliable way to keep this crucial system functioning properly is to trust the trained and experienced scuba regulator technicians at Monterey Bay Diving. We service all brands and models of scuba regulators and make it our business to keep up-to-date on technical specifications, tools, and best practices to ensure your scuba regulator performs perfectly every time.
It is important to have your regulator properly serviced at regular intervals. This period can vary depending on the type and frequency of diving, but once each year is a good starting point. The scuba equipment technician will begin with a visual inspection of the outside of your regulator. They will examine the hoses and crimped hose connections, looking for signs of abrasion or chemical deterioration. The placement and routing of the LP and HP hoses will be checked and labeled, so the regulator can be reassembled in the same configuration. Next, the technician will attach the regulator to an air source and perform a bench test, simulating the performance of breathing the reg at the surface. The effort required to both “inhale” and “exhale” the second stage will be measured and compared to the manufacturer’s specifications for your model. Excessive breathing resistance on the regulator’s second stage is a good indication of internal wear or corrosion.
Next, the technician will completely disassemble both the first and second stages, separating the parts that will be replaced. The individual components will be thoroughly cleaned in an ultrasonic cleaner, then carefully inspected for minute damage to threads and sealing surfaces. After everything has been checked, the technician reassembles both the first and second stages using all-new “consumable” components including o-rings, valve seats, flexible diaphragms, and internal springs. Both regulators are then re-tested for proper pressure and breathing resistance. The technician will note any areas of concern for the customer to be aware of, and also record the manufacturer and serial numbers of the regulators for the diver’s records.
Scuba diving is a fun, relaxing, adventurous sport. But it is also an equipment-intensive activity since humans did not evolve to spend time underwater unassisted by technology. In order to reach your lungs, the air you carry in your dive cylinder must have a reliable delivery method: your scuba regulator. Understand the basics of its operation, be diligent about rinsing it and performing visual checks each time you assemble your gear for a dive, and trust the trained and experienced technicians at Monterey Bay Diving to maintain your dive regulator with regular service.
This article was originally posted at Monterey Bay Diving.