Like an overdue oil change or a container of milk that’s on the brink of its expiration date, it’s easy to test your limits with scuba gear. After all, sometimes you don’t have time to test all your equipment before a dive trip, and sometimes it can be difficult to know what to look for.
But unlike past-its-prime milk, which might give you a stomachache at worst, having faulty gear can create a critical if not dire situation under the water.
Your scuba gear is there to keep you alive, as well as ensure that you can see, maneuver, and thoroughly enjoy the underwater environment. So before your next diving adventure, be sure and look for these telltale signs that it might be time to replace or upgrade your gear.
Before you dive, inspect your gear for these issues.
Remember, if it’s time for a replacement, you should not use snorkeling gear or generic, one-size-fits-all packages for scuba diving. You’ll want professional gear specifically designed for diving.
Connect your BC inflator to a regulator that’s already hooked up to a tank. Blow a few hard bursts of air into the BC, and then listen for any air leaking once you release the inflate button.
If there are metal buckles on your BC, look for rust or corrosion. Chalky white material or powdery green debris indicates corrosion.
Always take a look at the numbers that indicate the hydrostatic test date before a dive. These are typically stamped at the top of the tank, and the expiration date is five years after the last inspection, on the last day of that month.
Remember if your tank is out-of-date, dive shops won’t fill it until its current again. Also, take a look at the O-rings for nicks and a fuzzy feel, and check the tank valve for corrosion or any damage, which can deplete your tank of air very quickly.
It can be tricky to examine an entire suit with an eagle eye, so start with the cuffs and seams for tears or any stitching that seems to have come loose. Double check all your zippers, and especially check the operation of the suit’s valves. You’ll need to put the suit on and inflate it completely to try out the vent valves, but it’s valuable to know if there’s an issue before going into the water.
Look for obvious problems too, of course. If a suit is getting a little saggy, or if your mask doesn’t attach to your face above water without you holding onto it, it’s time to get a replacement. When it comes to diving, safety is key, and the right and properly functioning equipment won’t just save you from worry.