Servicing Your Regulator
Happy New Year! It’s early January and ‘the weather outside is frightful;’ it’s frigid cold and snow is in the forecast. As much as I want to dive, I don’t even want to go outside in this weather. I last dived about three weeks ago in 47F water for a training dive. Despite the cold of the water, my regulator performed flawlessly – as it always does. That’s because I take excellent care of it at all times. It is, after all, my lifeline when I’m diving.
So why then, is my regulator being serviced this month? Simple… taking care of a regulator means more than just me taking care of it. It also means annual servicing or function checks by a qualified repair technician. This is done to ensure the regulator remains in excellent working order and to maintain warranty standards. In the past, most regulator manufacturers recommended annual servicing. However, some manufacturers now recommend servicing every other year with function tests in the opposite years – unless the regulator is having a problem or has been used heavily.
Servicing is actually a complex process that should only be done by qualified service technicians. It involves completely disassembling the regulator, cleaning and lubricating it as needed and changing disposable parts such as springs, O-rings, and diaphragms. Then re-assembling it with manufacturer recommended or supplied parts and testing it to ensure it meets performance specifications.
Between annual servicing it’s up to divers to take care of their own regulators – something all divers should have learned in their open water certification training. At the end of a dive, ensure the tank valve is closed and the air is completely drained from the regulator. Then remove the first stage from the tank valve ensuring the inlet and dust cover are completely dry and replace the dust cover snugly. The entire regulator, including the hoses, should be rinsed with clean fresh water. Run water through the mouthpiece and exhaust tee as well. The unit may be dunked in fresh (preferably warm) water, but be careful not to ever press the purge buttons. Most manufacturers recommend not submerging the first stage. Ensure there are no salt crystals or debris left on any parts of the regulator or hoses. It should then be placed in a cool, dry place to dry completely before storing or re-packing it for the next dive. It is best not to hang the unit or coil the hoses too tight as that can stress the hoses.
Annual servicing and a few minutes of proper care after each dive can keep a regulator performing flawlessly for years!