Life-Support Equipment Servicing
Your regulator, B.C. and dive computer are substantially more complex than what they appear. They are highly tuned, tested, and reliable to protect you during your dive. Though diving is safe, it is no surprise that it can turn dangerous. Divers find themselves relaxing in a world that human life cannot be sustained without specific equipment....that equipment must not be neglected.
Divers should plan on having a qualified technician inspect their equipment at least annually. Consider this inspection just like the inspection on your car. It looks to identify future problems, ensure proper and safe operation, and give you piece of mind on your dives. It isn't intended to replace components but rather ensure those components are operating as intended.
On regulators, this inspection process takes about 20 minutes. Underwater World follows a manufacturers inspection checklist to ensure that everything from hoses, to HP seats are in good working order. We inspect the filter and body for corrosion, and check to see that the regulator is tuned to manufacturer breathing specifications using LP gauges to check for intermediate pressure and a MagneHelic gauge to check for work of breathing settings. Over time, not just usage, these settings slowly change from what is specified by the manufacturer. In most cases, we are able to make a quick adjustment to set them back to the settings they were intended to be at. This inspection and minor setting adjustments will cost usually about $25.
For buoyancy compensators, Underwater World technicians check all dump valves for leaks and proper operation. A crucial and often overlooked component to a safe dive, but is inspected by Underwater World, is the B.C.s power inflator. A small leak in the schrader valve will cause the divers B.C. to slowly inflate, making buoyancy control nearly, if not, impossible. This inspection usually takes about 20 minutes and will cost about $15.
Divers should plan to have their life-support equipment serviced at-least once every two years. This is a relatively recent change as the old requirement used to be annually. With advances in technology, many manufacturers have extended the overhaul requirement with the recommendation of a inspection between overhauls. Older equipment still may fall under the original guidelines for annual overhauls.
A common misconception to overhauls, is the belief that they are based on how often they equipment has been dove. The primary reason for overhauls is changing out life-limited parts, not dive limited. That means, that even if you haven't dove in 3 years, your equipment may need to be serviced. Internal o-rings, that are smaller than a pencil eraser, hold back 3,000+psi and dry rot over time, not dives. Over time, not dives, springs put constant pressure on the HP seat, causing it to grove and thus preventing smooth airflow past it. Additionally, all Underwater World manufacturers offer "FREE PARTS FOR LIFE", as long as the equipment is kept in warranty. The only way to keep the equipment in warranty, it to meet the overhaul schedule.
Consider this like an oil change, or a tune up, on your car. At one time, manufacturers recommended oil changes every 3,000 miles. Now, many new cars can go up to 7,500 miles. But there are also time requirements on your oil change; for example "3,000 miles or 3 months, whatever comes first." Additionally, if your car is under warranty, and you go 20,000 miles without an oil change, the manufacturer is probably not going to replace the piston rings for you when they gauge through the cylinders.
For regulators, this service is intensive. Ever component of the first and second stage is broken down and removed. They are all placed into an ultra-sonic cleaner to remove corrosion both externally and internally. A parts kit is then added (this is the Free Parts for Life portion). That parts kit includes replacement of the HP seat, 2 LP seats, diaphragms, filters, clamps, and over a dozen life-limited o-rings. In fact, every o-ring gets replaced in both the first and second stages. Lastly, once cleaned and assembled, Underwater World technicians tune the regulator back to manufacturer specifications. This tuning takes place in the 1st stage and in both 2nd stages. This entire process takes upwards of 2 hours and occasionally more as the tuning processes can be time consuming. Following an overhaul, divers can expect to see a clean, corrosion free, well breathing regulator. Again, much like your car that is in need of an oil change, you may even feel the difference when it comes out of overhaul. Most servicing can be done in under a week, but we request a normal turn around of 2 weeks to ensure that if additional work needs to be done, we are able to accomplish that. Overhauls of a regulator with octopus, cost around $75.
Does my B.C. need an overhaul? YES!
The poor buoyancy compensator is neglected by many divers as a true life-support piece. It absolutely should be overhauled on a similar schedule. One of the most important and time consuming portions of a B.C. overhaul is cleaning the inside of the bladder. Inevitably salt water will get into the bladder. Even if you drain it out, like you are supposed to, some remains. As that water evaporates (hopefully or gets moldy) over time, the salt crystals are left behind. This salt crystals work slowly to rub and cut the bladder from the inside out. Eventually puncturing the bladder and possibly permanently damaging the BC.
During servicing, Underwater World removes the power inflator, associated o-rings, filters, and schrader valves. The o-rings are replaced and the filters and schrader valves are cleaned in the ultrasonic to ensure corrosion is removed. Then, a cleaner and preservative is poured into the bladder. This breaks down the salt crystals and helps to lubricate the inside of the bladder. After cleaning and replacing of components is complete, the BC is reassembled, filled with air, and leak tested.
Much like the regulator, this service can usually be accomplished quickly. However, to ensure it is done properly and completely, we ask for 2 weeks to be able to turn it around. A BC overhaul costs about $35.
Wow! That was a lot of information!
Yes, yes it was. Servicing your life-support equipment is a complex task and one we don't take lightly. We make every effort to ensure that when you need it, it works, and it works right, every time. We aren't in the business of turning equipment back over as fast as we can, there are no bonus' for doing something like this wrong. Once your equipment is completed it is always tested. However, divers should always inspect their equipment for workability before every dive and dive trip.Internal components, especially of regulators, is a complex system of small moving parts behind massive amounts of pressure, and there are no guarantees that a second adjustment doesn't need to be made.
At Underwater World, we work hard to exceed your expectations through training, sales, and travel. Servicing your equipment, so that you can have a safe diving experience, is no different, it is not an exception. Your safety is an absolute top priority and we appreciate you putting your trust into us for all your diving needs.