How Often Should Dive Regulators be Serviced?
Whoops, you dug your regulator into the sand on a not-so-graceful shore exit. Don’t worry — it happens to even the most experienced diver. First, turn on your air and press the purge button. This will blow out your regulator’s second stage and help remove any sand or debris. But did you know that you should also have it serviced before your next dive? How often should dive regulators be serviced in general?
As a scuba diver, part of your responsibility is to inspect and service all of your dive gear regularly. Your dive regulator is your lifeline underwater. Dive regulators are also the most essential and expensive piece of our scuba diving equipment.
Dive regulators deliver air/O2 from your tank to your lungs through O-rings, hoses, and pressure valves. The complexity of regulators warrants paying particular attention to them. There are three primary reasons to have your dive regulators serviced.
- Regular service extends the life of your dive regulator
- Your regulator is not working properly upon setup
- You see visible issues or experience an accident (i.e. you dug your regs into the sand)
How often should I service my dive regulator?
You should set up a systematic and scheduled maintenance plan for all your gear.
- Always visually inspect gear before a dive
- Clean your equipment after every dive to keep it from corroding due to salt water
- Schedule periodic deep cleaning and inspection of your gear based on its use and manufacturer recommendations
Once you purchase your regulator read through the manual. Doin so will tell you how often the manufacturer recommends service. Each dive regulator operates differently. The more moving parts, the more often they will need service.
Next, how often are you diving? Some divers are lucky enough to dive nearly every day, while the average recreational diver dips underwater a few times per month. The general thought is to service your regulators every 100 dives. Logging all of your dives helps to track service schedules.
As a rule of thumb, if you are an occasional diver, you should have your gear serviced before beginning your dive season. Servicing your gear at the end of the season may also be a logical choice. Take note of gear storage. Lack of proper storage can damage your diving equipment. Finally, if you have not used your gear in the last six months, you should schedule an inspection before your next dive.
Where and how do I get dive regulators serviced?
Start with the local dive shop where you purchased your gear; they are your best resource. Most dive shops have a certified service technician on staff. If you purchased your gear online, call your local dive shop first to see if they service your chosen brand. If not, the manufacturer can typically direct you.
Depending on the time of year, it can take a week to service your regulator if it’s in good working order, depending on how busy the dive shop is. If it’s broken or not working, it may take longer if the parts are not in stock, so plan ahead if you have an upcoming trip.
Do your research if your regulator needs service while on vacation. Local knowledge is always best for exploring local dive sites. However, in remote locations, repairs may not be done by certified technicians. If no certified technicians are available, rent a reg or bring a spared set up if you have one. Finally, check how long the repair may take— if the local dive shop can’t get the work done before your trip ends, bring it back to your home shop for service.
Other reasons to service dive regulators
It is not functioning properly
During your gear assembly and pre-dive check, you should visually inspect your gear. Swap to your backup gear if you notice any of the following issues:
- Your hoses look frayed
- You hear a hiss
- The hiss continues after you replace the tank’s O-ring and confirm your regs are seated correctly on your tank
- You don’t get steady air from your primary or secondary hose/mouthpiece
- Your regulator looks warped or broken
If you notice these things, don’t risk the dive; swap to your backup set or grab a rental. Diving rule No. 1 will always be safety first.
Sometimes, an experience on your dive warrants a regulator service call, such as our example of accidentally digging your regulator(s) into the sand. Unfortunately, accidents like this can happen, especially on high-surf entrances or exits from the shore.
Why the concern? Sand can get stuck in pressure valves, causing the mouthpiece on the primary or secondary hose to get stuck in an open or closed position. Sand or debris will prevent your regulators from doing their job underwater. If your regulators have contact with significant particulate, have them checked by a knowledgeable technician before you dive again.
When hoses or hose connections become frayed or weakened, they leak and create bubbles underwater. Your dive buddy may notice bubbles from one of your hoses or the second stage during a dive. As a general rule of thumb, champagne bubbles are acceptable, but larger bubbles indicate it is time to end/shorten the dive. If you continue to dive, keep an extra eye on your air consumption. Even though you may continue the current dive, you should identify and fix the problem before your next dip.
Finally, if you forgot to put the dust cap on the second stage when you cleaned and dunked it after a dive, don’t kick yourself—simply get the regulator serviced. The concern is that when water is introduced into your scuba diving regulators, it can cause rust to form.
Regular service equals safety
Scuba diving allows us to see and interact with the underwater world. Regularly inspecting and servicing your dive equipment, especially your dive regulators, is one part of a divers’ responsibility. Servicing your equipment is also a key part of keeping our sport safe.
Frequently asked questions
Regulators are essential but can be intimidating. Even though you reviewed their function during your open-water class, here are some basics to easily understand this clever technology.
The air in your tank is compressed to about 200-300 bar (2900-4350 psi) so that you can carry it underwater at depth. Your regulator reduces the compression to a breathable pressure. It does this in two stages. The first stage is attached to your cylinder and brings the pressure down to around 10 bar (145 Psi).
The second stage is what you breathe from while you’re diving. It lowers the pressure even more, to below .05 bar (.725 Psi), a comfortable breathing pressure. And it keeps this ambient pressure no matter your dive depth.
For more details read about what to look for when buying a scuba regulator at the bottom of our guide to this year’s best regulators.
After your mask, snorkel, and fins, consider purchasing a dive computer next. Dive computers are essential for dive safety. In addition, they are not usually part of diving rental gear. Usually, regulators are the last piece of gear purchased as they are expensive. However, if you are ready to invest in gear, some dive shops offer a package containing a BCD, regulator, and dive computer.
See our detailed advice on when to buy diving equipment here.
Congratulations, you are a certified open-water diver! However, you don’t have to run out right away and purchase all new gear. Rental gear is safe. Rental gear also allows you to try different styles and brands to get a feel for your personal preferences.
Purchasing used gear is safe if you know what you are getting. Make sure you test out used gear before you buy by having a certified technician look it over. Purchase used dive gear the same way you would purchase a used car. Inspect before you buy.