As Guy Thomas explains, looking after your diving equipment could keep you alive and avoid potential incidents.
After reviewing how to best clean and rinse your gear, let's look at drying and how to store scuba gear. Of course, the following are general rules and tips and do not replace user manuals of any equipment, so you may also want to consult those for more specific instructions.
How To Dry Scuba Gear
Yes, the sun will dry your kit faster, but prolonged exposure to UV will make colours fade (bleaching effect) and make them look worn and shabby earlier than you think. Sunlight can deteriorate neoprene suits, hoses, latex or rubber seals, plastic materials, O-rings/gaskets and even zips. In high temperatures, neoprene will also lose its elasticity.
Hang your kit outside, ideally in the shade, then bring it back inside. Drying materials in a well-ventilated room is an option too, but be careful not to place them next to heaters to avoid fire hazards and damage to your equipment.
Dry neoprene materials inside-out to protect the outer layer. Do not use a tumble dryer – it will only reduce their life spans. Specific electric heating elements are available to dry boots and gloves, but attention is needed to avoid overheating and fire.
Use an appropriate hanger to hang your drysuits (neoprene or trilaminate) in an upside-down position. This position – inside or outside – will allow any remaining water to drain.
The outside isn't such a problem coming to the BCD, but drying the inside is another story. The easiest way is to inflate the BCD and drain any remaining water through the inflator hose or dump valves. Repeat a couple of times for best results, then leave the BCD inflated and let it dry. Treat DSMBs similarly – unroll them and hang them partially inflated.
Some parts of diving masks – like the one between the nose and glass – are prone to calcium deposits. Dry these parts using a cloth or towel, and extend their life span.
Fins are more resistant but don't like extreme heat either. While drying in the sun, avoid placing other materials on top. Fins can change form and get curved when subjected to heat, affecting their efficiency underwater.
How to Store Scuba Gear
Always store materials in a cool, dry place, protected from sunlight and high temperatures – above 49°C. Keep them away from any ozone, chlorine or exhaust gas source, and avoid contact or exposure to oil, solvents, gasoline and chemicals.
Keeping your BCD half-inflated when stored is good practice, also using special hangers where you can attach regulators. Regs can also be placed in a bag or box, but always make sure hoses are not tightly bent. Protective regulator bags for storage and transport will keep this precious piece of equipment safe.
Before storing them, ensure drysuits are dry, with no humidity inside or outside. It's best to hang them upside-down (zip closed) using a specific heavy-duty drysuit hanger, which avoids pressure points on the shoulders or stores them lying flat – no heavy objects on their top to prevent kinks or punctures! Limited space? Avoid folding or bending the zip, as this could damage a crucial (and expensive!) part of your suit. Keep zips clean, and apply a suitable lubricant. Use unscented talcum on latex seals, as they can quickly deteriorate, stick together, and ultimately break.
Store masks and snorkels separately, preferably in their boxes, protecting their silicone components. The same applies to computers, a precious piece of equipment you want to keep safe from harm.
Remove batteries from diving torches and lights before storing them, especially for extended periods. Batteries can leak, and their acid will damage your equipment.
What about cylinders? Avoid moisture from getting inside the cylinder, even if it's difficult to ensure, as it partially depends on the filling installation. What you can do is avoiding to store tanks empty, thus leaving some pressure inside. Even small amounts of inside moisture can cause corrosion, so don't store them on their side, as walls are thinner than the bottom. Place cylinder in an upright position, suitably secured to avoid falling. Should it fall, the fact that it's almost empty does not make it safer, as valves can get damaged and cause severe accidents and injuries when refilled.
Do not keep cylinders full if you plan to store them for a more extended period – over time; oxidation might reduce the oxygen percentage inside.
Use a cylinder cap to prevent dust or impurities from getting in the valve or even into the first stage (or its sintered filter). This is especially important when using enriched air mixtures and oxygen-clean materials.
Ready to use?
Cleaning, drying and storing your gear doesn't make it automatically ready to use again. In our next article, we will take a closer look at ensuring your equipment is ready to be used.
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