Author Topic: Regulator Maintenance  (Read 21199 times)

Anne

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Regulator Maintenance
« on: February 05, 2009, 19:38:48 UTC »
What are people's feelings on the annual regulator maintenance recommended by the manufacturers?  We have always complied and have never had a problem (5 years now), but a friend just had an issue 3 dives after routine service and the folks in the dive shop where she was when it happened said that you should never have it serviced unless there is a problem.

Thanks.

ldg7

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Re: Regulator Maintenance
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2009, 00:09:13 UTC »
I believe in preventive maintenance.  Why wait until you're diving to have a problem.   I would follow the manufacturers recommendation.  If you don't, the warranty might be void.  O-rings can dry out or fail without warning. Salt water may enter your regulator without you noticing.  You said you have been having it done annually and haven't had any problems.  I'm a certified regulator repair tech and I have had my own regulator go out of tune by just not being used for an extended period.  That being said, some repair shops are not as qualified as others.  I've seen shop owners taking shortcuts that could have resulted in problems.  It pays to do a little investigating before trusting someone that you are not familiar with.  Remember, we're talking about life support equipment.

craigwood

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Re: Regulator Maintenance
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2009, 18:02:33 UTC »
The only problems I've ever had with my regulators have been immediately after service. I've heard this same complaint from others and would imagine it's not that uncommon. Would like to hear from others regarding this experience.

Good diving, Craig

JoelS

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Re: Regulator Maintenance
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2009, 02:16:22 UTC »
I agree with Craig.  I have had my regulator serviced annually since buying it.  Once I had a free flow problem after servicing.  Another time the hose from the second stage wasn't tightly secured to the first stage.  I was not a happy camper, to say the least.  I do under 20 dives per year, but I will continue to get my reg serviced annually.  It is life support, after all.

Joel

DiverRob

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Re: Regulator Maintenance
« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2009, 15:01:51 UTC »
I have mine rebuilt about every 2 years.  Usually a couple of months before a big trip (that gives me some time to make sure it is working well in case I need to take it back in).  Which brings up a good point.  Once you find a shop that does a good rebuild, keep going back to them.  I too had a crappy rebuild and then found this place I go to now to make it right.

Another thing to remember is that the more your regulator sits around, the more it ages!  The seals tend to get indented and then you get free flow.  I had a regulator that I used regularly and it was 5 years before I rebuilt it just because I thought I should.

Finally, you might look into taking an equipment maintenance class at your SCUBA dealer.  You will learn a lot about the equipment and caring for it, as well as teardowns and how it all works.  It is a great class if taught well.  For example, I often see people depressing the purge button and washing the regulator.  This is a BAD THING TO DO.  It opens up the diaphragm and lets water into the hose.  Lot's of things like this you will learn and just be a better diver.

robo

blacktip

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Re: Regulator Maintenance
« Reply #5 on: March 01, 2009, 15:58:20 UTC »
That happened to me one time. I was picking my mares up from its annual and tested it on a tank and it wouldn't breathe. The seal was installed backwards. Very embarrassing to the tech. But having my regs services after 50 or so dives in salt water has allowed them to last, function well for over 20 years.

JoelS

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Re: Regulator Maintenance
« Reply #6 on: March 01, 2009, 18:27:37 UTC »
I guess it's unrelated, but what's the life span of a regulator?  I am impressed that you are diving with 20 year old equipment, but wonder if there have been any advances that would make it worthwhile to upgrade one's stuff periodically.

Joel

smoore

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Re: Regulator Maintenance
« Reply #7 on: March 01, 2009, 18:58:18 UTC »
I had a ScubaPro G250 second stage fail at 50 feet immediately after it was serviced about 3 years ago.  The lever apparently separated from the housing and the reason was never discovered either by the dive store or ScubaPro.  No air would flow from the regulator.  The reg failed after I attempted to adjust the manual inhalation control.  I had the regulator serviced annually even though I never do more than 40 dives in a year and often many fewer.  ScubaPro replaced all of the internal parts to the regulator because they could not find the problem.  So after 18 years I have essentially a new second stage.

One thing I did learn is that before diving on a regulator make sure not only that it breathes at the surface but that it continues to do so even after you have fiddled with the inhalation control. 
Steve Moore

blacktip

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Re: Regulator Maintenance
« Reply #8 on: March 01, 2009, 19:53:03 UTC »
It's aSherwood Magnum which breathes easily in every situation I've subjected it to. I wonder why some DM in the lastfew years asked to buy them from me. Their simple and easy to repair or overhawl. I never feel a slave to any one scuba shop. Just one guys opinion.

DiverRob

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Re: Regulator Maintenance
« Reply #9 on: March 01, 2009, 20:49:07 UTC »
I have a Dacor Olympic 400 from 1979 that still works today.  It's hard to get parts for, and that will be its death: lack of a rebuild kit.

The advancements I notice in new regs are bigger input hoses and easier breathing.  I would no longer dive on an old regulator.  In a stress situation, the airflow restriction is not needed.  The Dacor now is used to clean the pool!

blacktip

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Re: Regulator Maintenance
« Reply #10 on: April 11, 2009, 16:52:14 UTC »
Replying to Joel S. I was at Beneath the Sea 2 weeks ago and I asked around about your question about new materials and technology in Regulator manufacture and function. There were many differing opinions. I'm not a tech diver and dive in warm water with my Sherwood Mags . I do annual maintenance if I've used my regs during the year. I'm very diligent in rinsing.Suprisingly enough, I've had several divemasters ask if they were for sale.

Dennis49

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Re: Regulator Maintenance
« Reply #11 on: April 25, 2009, 04:50:59 UTC »
Regulator maintenance is an individual thing, its what you feel comfortable with and how well you know your equipment.  I take care of my own equipment ( I once managed a shop and was the lead tech).  Any more I get one dive trip a year, so my gear is stored eleven months a year.  What I do is go through it a couple /  three weeks before I leave.  When I get home I put it all in the bathtub with wetsuit shampoo and wash and rise it. After it has dried I go through it again and lube all the o-ring(I actually over lube a little) and take the pressure off the seats before I store it.  This has worked for me for over 25 yrs.

To JoelS - I have a late 1970's Mk 5 / 109 that still works great.  One thing I've done is upgrade the 109 to a balanced 250.  I have also spent a lot of time finding springs and changing/rotating them around and now it breaths as good as if not better then the new Mk25/250HP and Mk25/600 that I just picked up (even if I say so myself).  It also has fewer parts so less to go wrong. A very dependable reg.
I have also amassed a lot of parts in this process so I'm set for life.

Have Alot of Great Diving
Dennis49
« Last Edit: April 25, 2009, 04:53:32 UTC by Dennis49 »

indigodive

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Re: Regulator Maintenance
« Reply #12 on: May 08, 2009, 15:17:33 UTC »
I'm a dive shop owner in what would be considered an 'off the beaten track' destination. In the 5 years since I opened the shop I have dived with a wide selection of divers.

It makes me smile when I see 'new' divers with brand new equipment, and I have noticed more and more that there seems to be an increasing move towards 'fashion' rather than function that influences new divers when making purchasing decisions.

I own a broad selection of first and second stages, but dive with a Scuba Pro Mk 2 / R395 combo. The reason, it's bullet proof, and I can service both with my eyes closed!

My rental fleet comprises of the same Mk2 / R395 which I replace every two years as I have a solid demand from local divers, especially fishers who know that it is a hard working combination, easy to service 'out at sea' if necessary.

I advise my students to look at the type of diving that they will undertaking prior to making a decision on what to buy. If you have no intention of diving in water below 72F why buy a regulator that is guaranteed not to fail whilst diving in icy conditions?

When it comes to maintenance a regulator that is used once a year requires more attention than one that is used on a daily basis. Really? Of course. The regulator that is not used will 'dry out' the rubber and plastics used in it's construction will degrade far more quickly than a regulator that is in regular use.

So if you are a once a year vacation diver I would suggest selecting a reg based on its ease of servicing as much as it's ease of breathing. Ask your self do I really need all the additional bells and whistles? And if you have a good relationship with your local dive shop seek their opinion as to the best reg for the job. (This is not necessarily the most expensive or best looking regulator). A good dive shop will want you to come back, and tell your friends about their service, so they will be more inclined to sell you what you need rather than sell you something that is not in keeping with your requirements.

When it comes to storage wash your gear, I use dish washing liquid, rinse and dry. If you have (food grade / dive specific) silicone spray or silicone grease apply sparingly to the hoses, this will help to prolong their life and it makes then look nice too ;)

Once you are satisfied that your reg is clean and dry I suggest using a 'space bag', the ones that you can suck all the air out of. Your reg for all intense purposes is now vacuum packed. This will help to slow down the degradation of the rubber and other parts. It will also stop any pesky bugs or other silicone loving pests taking up residence in your second stage. (As an aside space bags are great for packing wetsuits when traveling....).

Store your gear in a cool, dry place, taking note that mice and cockroaches LOVE silicone, and mice in particular have been known to eat through plastic bags to get to silicone. Cockroaches will eat mask skirts and the diaphragms of second stages....  you have been warned!

There has been a trend to move to alternate air sources built into the BCD such as the Scuba Pro Air 2, and a number of suppliers now have alternates that attach to the low pressure inflator (although I'm personally not a big fan of these). If you have one of these devices don't forget to get them serviced at the same time as you service your reg.

In 5 years of professional diving I have not experienced a regulator failure, personally or through another diver. For that matter I have not met another diver who has had a regulator failure. I am sure that it happens, but on very rare occasions.

Therefore I would speculate that if you look after your gear, have it maintained in accordance to common sense and manufacturers guidelines you should enjoy many years of trouble free diving.

Kay Wilson,
Indigo Dive.

 

blacktip

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Re: Regulator Maintenance
« Reply #13 on: May 09, 2009, 15:17:17 UTC »
My thanks on a very sensible letter

speir

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Re: Regulator Maintenance
« Reply #14 on: August 31, 2009, 13:15:41 UTC »
When I started diving in the late 1960s, no one I knew serviced a regulator unless something went wrong.  Among my diving group of 4 to 8 people, we never had a failure.   We dove just about every weekend from May to October off Destin, FL, then threw our equipment in a closet until the next spring.  We did take pains to wash our stuff with soap and water after every dive day.

After a 25 year hiatus, I started diving again in 1998.  Since then, I have had regulator malfunctions every time I have had a regulator serviced locally (Northern Virginia Washington DC area).  I have used three different dive shops and about 6 different techs in them.  The regulators never failed, they just free-flowed, whistled, honked (a first stage problem), or breathed hard.  The last time, I had to send my Atomic titanium reg back to the company to do a factory service to get it to work right.  They also suggested an upgrade which would not have been provided through a local scuba shop.  Good work, good company.

My wife has a Scuba Pro titanium that we bought used, but almost new, 5 or 6 years ago.  It has never been serviced and still continues to work fine.  She only makes 20 or so dives a year on it.  However, if it ever malfunctions and I or my friends can't repair it, I will throw it away because Scuba Pro does not allow its customers to send their regs back to the factory.  You have to go through a local Scuba Pro "qualified" dealer who will put pressure on you to let him service it ("why send it back, I am a qualified Scuba Pro tech?").  If it goes back to the factory through the shop operator, it significantly increases the cost of work due to his add-on.  The local Scuba Pro "qualified" shop screwed up one the regs I  mentioned above--we had to fix the first stage in a shack on Grand Turk.

My recommendations:

- If you are purchasing a reg, buy high-end equipment from a company that supports a customer-to-company service program.

- Clean the reg thoroughly after every dive day, keep it out of the dirt (sand), and maybe soak it (under pressure if possible) overnight if you aren't going to use it for a while.

- Stay away from Scuba Pro/UWATEC in general, not because of reliability, but because they just are not customer friendly.

chelsea

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Re: Regulator Maintenance
« Reply #15 on: March 15, 2010, 05:12:57 UTC »
I absolutely agree that preventative maintainance is the best choice.  I  learned the hard way that doing your home work prior to trusting your reg to anyone for service is essential as was stated in above comments.  I own a mares reg and the dive center where I purchased it went out of business about 2 years ago.  I decided to keep my money local so I brought my reg to another local dive center that is registered to work on my brand of reg.  After getting my reg back it was making a weazing noise that seemed to worsen the more I used it.  Upon further inspection I learned that the local dive center is certified to work on my reg but has not received any in to work on in a number of years so they do not carry them any more but they still service them.  In other words they do not have any experience with this brand even though they are certified to repair them because they are former sales reps.  I sent my reg to the manufacturer and they adjusted it so it does not make that weazing sound now and it breathes as effortlessly as I have come accustomed to with my Mares.  So know who is working on your reg and have it serviced annually or per manufacturer specs. 

 

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