As always never dive with equipment you have not been trained to use.
Diving equipment is expensive so we want it to last as long as possible, with a little care you can get long, safe life out of your equipment. Remember to protect your investment.
Here’s how to get the best out of your Bouyancy Control Device.
Get it serviced – Each year a BCD seems to be a simple device but it still needs to be checked out and looked after. There are a number of valves that can wear and be damaged with sand and grit. The bladder itself can be punctured if it is not looked after properly. Servicing doesn’t cost a lot and can save you money in the long run.
After it’s used it needs a little work – look after it and here’s how, its simple and makes all the difference.
After the dive empty it out - As you walk up the beach just gently pull on the lower dump valve and let any water that may have entered the bladder escape.
Empty the pockets - As soon as you can, If you’re like me you pick up all sorts of bits of rubbish while you dive. Emptying the pockets gets rid of anything that could cause an issue later, don’t forget to remove and empty any weight pockets, take the weights out and put them on the ground somewhere safe.
Give the outside a good wash - Slosh the BCD around in a tank of clean water or hose it down to get all the salt, or if you’ve been pool diving, chlorine off. Both are corrosive and will cause damage if left on, pay particular attention to inflator and dump valves.
Drain any water out - Then turn the BCD upside down and drain it through the inflation tube.
Give the bladder a good flush out - Putting a litre or so of fresh water down the inflator hose through the oral inflate mouthpiece (Remembering to push the deflate button as you pour), lightly inflate it and turn the BCD back and forth a few times and empty the bladder as before, this removes any salt or chlorine from inside the bladder.
Apparently, there is a risk that salt crystals could grow on the inside of the bladder and these crystals could cause a puncture.
In most cases if the bladder gets punctured the BCD becomes useless and cannot be repaired.
Once dried put any weight pockets back on - So they don’t get lost.
Finally – Check the outside for damage and make sure that all the clips are in good condition, check that the inflator and dump valves have not become loose where they secure to the bladder, make sure the toggles and strings are on the dump valves and check the inflator hose for damage, look for scuffs or wear marks.
Where BCD’s sometimes fail is the material where the inflator hose joins to the jacket, pay close attention to this area when you do your checks.
At the end of a week’s dive - Before storage use a suitable product, such as B.C. Life cleaner which will disinfect the bladder and stop bacteria growing in the device (Make sure that any disinfectant used is a proprietary disinfectant specifically for BCDs, as many general disinfectants can cause damage to the inflator and valves, if in doubt ask at the shop for advice). Before storing make sure the jacket and any weight pockets are completely dry, you can use a product such as ‘Zipcare’ on any pocket zips, to keep them running freely.
To store the BCD - Hang the jacket slightly inflated in a warm environment away from direct sunlight and sources of heat.