Posted by Kendall Raine on December 07, 2000 at 09:45:16:
In Reply to: But what is proper maintenance? posted by ChrisM on December 06, 2000 at 17:07:39:
BC maintenance is really more common sense, and something to be done by the user, than something to take to the dive shop for inspection. A brief inspection should be done by the user everytime the thing is used. Things to look for are wear, gas retention, power inflator performance and exhaust function. As Jim said, BC's have lots of failure points and these should get frequent attention. This attention should be in addition to regular rinsing with fresh water. Specific ideas include:
1) Leak check. Have a buddy inspect the bladder and valves for leaks at the surface before every dive. This takes 5 seconds and should be automatic.
2) Listen to the power inflator for slow leaks. Typically power inflators develop slow leaks over time. You can usually hear these if you put your ear the thing. Another way to check this is, on the boat ride out, pressurize your reg with the low power inflator hooked up and the all gas vented from the BC. Check back in an hour to see if the BC has become slightly inflated during that time. Any leak is grounds for replacememt of the power inflator mechanism. Replacement takes about 5 minutes. There is no way to tell whether a power inflator is leaking or is about to leak simply by looking at it. I always carry a spare inflator in my tool box. Finally, practice pulling the low pressure hose off under water. This is the only way, other than shutting down the first stage, to stop an uncontrolled fill. While most uncontrolled fills start slowly, any such event which is rapid is potentially life threatening. The same goes for a dry suit inflator mechanism since these too can stick. Dry suit inflator valves should be checked for stickyness before every dive and dissassembled, inspected and greased at least once a year. This takes about 3 minutes. When in doubt, whip it out!
3) If you insist on plastic quick releases, inspect them frequently for hairline cracks. They are sometimes hard to see so do it slowly and in good light. Relacing one requires using a heavy duty sewing machine. Personally, I think they should be eliminated altogether, but that's another subject.
4) Inspect the shell for wear. This should be done every time you go diving. Use good light.
5) Inspecting the bag, if removable, can reveal wear and cracks in advance of leaks, but the typical symptom of bag fatigue is a slow leak. This should be looked for before and during every dive-see 1 above. Immediate replacement is warrented at this point. Patches are failure prone.
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