When to Service Regulators
Regulators are complex but reliable mechanisms, meant to give you years of trouble-free service — if you have them serviced according to manufacturer recommendations. Regular maintenance of your dive gear is essential to ensure it remains reliable and functioning correctly. Everyone learns in their first open water certification scuba class that post-dive equipment cleaning is the most basic maintenance to maintain equipment warranties, ensure reliable function, and maximize safety. Scuba gear usually fails in the water, where it is subjected to higher pressures and more extreme conditions than on land, and the consequences underwater can be serious. Regulators use both static and dynamic o-rings to maintain watertight seals, high pressure polymer seats that wear, and filters to block contaminants in the breathing gas. Over time these parts all degrade and dry out, whether you use your regulator or not. Regular post-dive cleaning only washes the externally accessible surfaces, not interior sealed parts that could be damaged or corroded due to wear or worn o-rings. Following manufacturer recommendations for service, in terms of time and number of dives, is the best approach to ensure your regulator breathes as smoothly as new, avoid problems underwater and ensure the maximum lifetime for expensive scuba equipment.
You can consider servicing your own regulators. Ask yourself if you have the current skills to thoroughly break down your regulator, the tools and experience to clean, inspect, reassemble, and fully test your gear, especially if you only do it once every year or two. Scuba regulators are life support equipment!
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Glynn F. Palmer
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