While the regulator you buy may not be the only breather you’ll ever plunk down money on, it could very well last you virtually forever—if you take care of it. By following these maintenance tips you just may end up handing your reg down to your grandkids.
Before a Day of Diving
1. Remove the first stage dust cap and check that the filter is clean and free of corrosion. How well you put the reg away after your last dive will determine what you may or may not find when you pop the dust cap. Either way, now’s the time to find out, not when you’re on the dive boat only minutes from splashing.
2. Attach the first stage to a tank and, before turning the air on, exhale through the second stage. This will blow out any dust or worse that might have drifted—or—crawled inside. Then, gently try to inhale. Since the air is turned off you should not be able to get a breath; this indicates the exhaust valve and main diaphragm are intact. If, however, you are able to get a breath, that means air is leaking in from somewhere, which means water can leak in too.
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3. Turn the air on and check your primary and backup second stages. Both should breathe easily. Listen for leaks around the hose fittings, which would indicate a bad O-ring, or just a loose hose. Also, listen for leaks coming from in or around the mouthpiece, which would indicate it’s time for a service.
4. Attach the LP quick-disconnect hose to your BC’s power inflator and check the function of the inflate/deflate buttons. Sometimes if the power inflator is not rinsed properly, it will get sticky after sitting for a time. This is more of a BC maintenance item, but when it comes to your life support system, it’s all inter-connected.
5. Now turn off the air. Check the function of your analog pressure gauge by watching the needle as you depressurize the system, making sure the needle drops smoothly without sticking. While many of the newer pressure gauges are digital, it’s always a good idea to check its function and, while you’re at it, your tank’s pressure.
6. Be familiar with your regulator’s warranty as it relates to service. Periodically refer to your reg’s owners manual for info on service requirements. Many reg brands require an annual service by an authorized repair facility to maintain the warranty. Other brands suggest a two-year or perhaps a 300-dive service interval. By maintaining the recommended service schedule you can usually save good money on the cost of replacement parts, as many companies include these in the warranty.
After a Day of Diving
7. First rinse and then soak your regulator in fresh water for 20 minutes. A light stream of water directed to the second stage and around the first stage will flush out the big chunks of salt and sand. A good follow-up soak will dissolve most anything hiding in threads and in all the nooks and crannies of both first and second stages. Warning: before embarking on this fresh-water ritual, make sure the dust cap is securely in place and screwed down sufficiently to prevent water from seeping into the first-stage orifice.
8. After the soak phase, give both first and second stages a gentle shake, then hook the first stage up to a tank to purge air through the second-stage. This will blow out most of the residual water inside the second stage casing. Then towel it all off while inspecting for damage or wear, including those areas hidden under the hose protectors.
9. Store the regulator in a dry location with hoses loosely coiled. Avoid hanging the reg, because this can put undue stress on the hose fittings.
10. Start making plans for your next dive trip. The best thing you can do for your regulator is to use it. A reg that spends long, lonely months on a closet shelf suffers from dust and cobwebs, its soft parts dry out, knobs and levers start to freeze in place. Regs are made to get wet and are happiest under water—as are we all.
I’ve been a diving addict since my 14th birthday when my parents took me to the Bahamas and had my first scuba diving experience. I’ve been an active diver ever since but in the last few years my focus shifted on sharing my thoughts and experience on diving gear, writing product reviews and gave up on organizing dive tours.