Happy New Year! It’s the time of year that you’ll be reminded it’s time to have your dive equipment serviced. You’ll probably receive e-mails, flyers, maybe phone calls, reminding you that “It’s that time of year, bring your regulators and tanks in for service.” But, once you take your life support equipment to your local dive center for service, don’t think you’re finished with equipment maintenance!
It is vital to have your life support equipment serviced regularly by a competent technician. However, it is no less important that you inspect and maintain every other piece of equipment. You can perform many repairs yourself, if you take your time and be careful. You should take a close look at every item in your kit, and I mean every item. Don’t ignore small things like the bungee on your computer or the sharpness of your knife. Here are a few ideas of things to look for. This is not an exhaustive list. I’m sure you can think of other issues to look for and fix, but this should get you started.
Inspect your drysuit for major issues like rotting seals or worn out zipper. These types of repairs usually require professional service, so don’t wait until spring to find out you need to send your suit off to a repair facility. Also look for problems like frayed and loose threads, which should be trimmed. Check the function of the exhaust and inflation valves. Look for areas of wear such as the seat, the shoulders (where harness straps rub) and the crotch (where the crotch strap may cause wear). Also look at your drysuit undergarments. Again, look for signs of wear, loose threads, tears or seams letting go. A trip to your local tailor shop may be in order to fix some of the issues. Oh, and it may not not hurt to wash them either.
Check your computer battery before storing for long periods of time. Read your manufacturer’s instructions for specifics on storage. Some manufacturers instruct you to remove the battery during storage, others do not. If your computer has a rechargeable, non-user-serviceable battery, make sure it has a full charge before storing. Also have a look at the strap or bungee and replace as necessary.
SMB and Spool/Reel
Inflate your surface marker buoy and check for leaks. Also make sure the over pressure relief valve (OPV) is working. Check the line on the spool to make sure it is not worn and in danger of failing. Replace the line if needed. The same applies if you prefer to use a reel. Check the line and also check all the moving parts. I once witnessed a diver deploying an SMB and the spool completely fell off the frame of the reel. There he was at 20′ with his SMB on the surface and the spool of line laying on the bottom. Luckily, it was just a practice drill in 40′ of water, so no harm done. But a lesson well learned. Make sure all your nuts are snug.
Don’t take the basics for granted: your mask and fins. As a technical diver, you probably dive with a back up mask (if not, you should). Examine your masks for signs of wear, especially the strap and buckle area. Take a few minutes and scrub the lens clean. It’ll help keep the lens free of fog and kill any little science projects growing in the nooks and crannies.
It doesn’t seem like there’s anything that can go wrong with a fin. But, they deserve a bit of love and care nonetheless. Eventually, the rubber will decay. Even if you use fins made from some other material, they are still vulnerable to damage like cracks, splits, cuts and normal wear and tear. Inspect the strap and buckle situation. Even if you use nearly indestructible spring straps, examine the point where they connect to the fin itself.
This list is hardly comprehensive, but you get the idea. Look over each and every item of your kit during these long winter days and repair as needed. Then when spring rolls around, you’ll be ready to go diving, rather than making your way to the dive shop with a load of equipment to be repaired!