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 2nd stage and help to remove any sand or debris. But did you know that you should also have it serviced before your next dive?
As a Scuba Diver, part of your responsibility is to inspect and service all of your dive gear regularly. Your diving regulator is your lifeline underwater. It is also the most essential and expensive piece of your scuba diving equipment.
Diving 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 (3) primary reasons to have your regulators serviced.
- Regular service extends the life of your diving regulator. It may help to prevent canceled dives
- Your regulator is not working properly on the setup
- You see visible issues or experience an accident (ex., you dug your regs into the sand)
How Often Should I Service My 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 breaking down in the salt water.
- Schedule periodic deep cleaning & inspection of all your gear based on its use and manufacture recommendations.
Once you purchase your regulator read through your regulator manual. Reading the manual will tell you how often the manufacturer recommends service. Each regulator operates differently. The more moving parts, the more often they will need to be serviced.
Next, how often are you diving? Some divers are blessed to dive 365 days a year, while the average recreational diver dives 6 – 12 times a 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 a seasonal/occasional diver, you should have your gear serviced before you begin 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 (6) months, you should schedule an inspection before your next dive.
Where & How to Get Your Regulators Serviced?
Start with the local shop where you purchased your gear, they are your best resource. Most dive shops have a certified service technician on staff. If your shop does not, check with the manufacturer, they can direct you.
Depending on the time of year, it may take a day or 2 to service your regulator if it is in good working order. If it is broken or not working, it may take longer if the parts on not in stock. Plan if you have an upcoming trip. (Note on COVID, the Dive Industry is still recovering, and many parts and some products are still on backorder.)
Do your research if you need your regulator serviced while on holiday/vacation. Local knowledge is always best for exploring local dive sites. However, in remote locations, repairs may not be done by certified technicians. If this is the case, try renting a set or bringing a spare set if you have them. Finally, make sure you check how long the repair may take. If they cannot get the work done before your trip ends, bring it back to your home shop to be serviced.
Other Reasons to Service Your Regulator
My Regulator is not Functioning Properly
During your gear assembly & predive 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 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 # 1: Safety First.
Accidents- Another Reason to Service Your Regulator, ASAP.
Sometimes, an experience on your dive warrants a regulator service call. For example, I mentioned accidentally digging your regulator/s into the sand. Unfortunately, accidents like this can happen. Especially on sporty/high surf entrances or exits from the shore.
Why the concern? Sand can get stuck in pressure vales, causing the mouthpiece on the primary or secondary hose to get stuck in an open position or closed position. Sand/Debris will prevent your regulators from doing their job underwater. Always have your gear checked by a knowledgeable technician before you dive again.
When hoses or hose connections become frayed or weakened, they leak and create bubbles underwater. If your dive buddy notices bubbles from one of your hoses or the second stage during a dive. A general rule of thumb: champagne bubbles are acceptable; larger bubbles indicate it is time to end/shorten the dive. If you continue to dive, be sure to 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 do the dreaded “forgot to put the dust cap on the second stage when you clean it/dunk 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 = Safety
Scuba diving allows us to see and interact with the underwater world. Regularly inspecting and servicing your dive equipment, especially your diving regulator, 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 understanding this clever tech.
The air in your tank is compressed to about 200-300 bar (2900-4350 Psi) so that you can carry air under water at depth. Your regulator reduces the compression to a breathable pressure. It does this in 2 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 in and out of while your are 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 what your dive depth is, like I said pretty clever!
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 an expense. However, if you are ready to invest in gear, some dive shops offer a package containing (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 gear 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 it looked over by a certified technician. Purchase used dive gear the same way you would purchase a used car. Inspect before you buy.