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February 2009    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 35, No. 2   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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The Inadvertently Inflating Power Inflator

from the February, 2009 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

In our December e-mail to subscribers, we asked if any had experienced equipment problems they cared to share. The old bugaboo - - the power inflator that sticks, leading to constant BCD inflation and excessive buoyancy - - reared its head again.

Ken L, who has made 62 dives, said, “I had my inflator stick at the bottom of a fairly deep dive, but I kept my head, held onto a rock, had to pull it to stop and exhausted extra air in my BC. It was an Aeris standard inflator and either the spring isn’t strong enough to pop it back out when using it or cleaning it is too difficult. At any rate, I purchased an inflator/regulator combo with much better controls and, in the process, eliminated a hose.”

Tim Pinkerton (Calgary, AB) explained his problem and the solution - - disconnecting the inflator. However, a diver can also flare - - spread his arms and legs and position himself perpendicular to the surface - - to slow his ascent.

“After 33 years of diving, we are all bound to have experienced some sort of equipment failure. While I am meticulous in ensuring that my gear is ‘well’ serviced, I have encountered numerous occasions where my gear may not have performed as it should have. The latest, however, has to do with a stuck inflator. Inflators stick and more than once. On this particular occasion, however, while diving in Utila two yeas ago, my Halcyon inflator stuck. The solution is, of course, a simple one: simply disconnect the inflator and orally inflate the BCD. Regretably, this problem occurred during a night dive. During the course of my attempts to resolve the problem by disconnecting the inflator, a new diver (Sweet Sue), unaware of my presence, kicked my mask off. Fortunately, it settled on a sandy bottom in 50 feet of water. With some joint effort with my dive buddy (my wife), we located the mask and completed a lovely armin- arm dive.

“Once I was topside, I simply replaced the inflator with a replacement inflator from my save-a-dive kit. Yes, granted mine is a little more comprehensive than most. However, I had the same recurring issue toward the end of this vacation. When I returned home, I learned that this particular stainless steel inflator had been recalled. Now, I should have probably solved the inflator problem prior to the trip. Just prior to this warm-water destination, I went ice diving and experienced a similar issue. I chalked this event to just a frozen inflator, but it did give the opportunity to have a great view of the ice with my face pressed nicely against it -- including the buddy that I took up with me.

“Had I spoken with my dive shop at that time, they may have been aware of the recall recently issued on the inflator. Alternatively, I could have searched the Internet, as it was eventually posted there. The point of this particular story is if you suspect a gear problem, there probably is one, so talk to your local dive shop and do some research of your own - - you may learn something not even your dive shop is yet aware of. I should add that it was a model Halcyon had recalled, and they were quick to replace both inflators that I had. They also had the recall posted promptly on their home page upon learning of the design error.”

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