The maintenance of your regulators and cylinders is vital for both your safety and the continuing of your diving activity.
Below is some advice regarding how to ensure your equipment is up to standards, and how often it should be tested in order to continue your diving activity.
Diving cylinders are subject to periodic inspection and testing (PAT), requiring a hydrostatic test every five years and a visual inspection every two and a half years. IDEST has a technical information sheet informing what to do if your cylinder misses a visual test anniversary.
Ensuring your cylinders are in test is vital, not just for safety, but for the continuing of your diving activity. Cylinder filling stations will not fill an out-of-test cylinder and so could prevent or seriously affect a diving trip. It is therefore essential that you check your cylinders as soon as possible and, if necessary, arrange for their testing in time for any planned trip.
Regulators should be serviced in line with the manufacturers' recommendations, which is commonly annually. In addition, any abnormality or fault should be checked out by a qualified service technician.
Some simple checks you can do to check for faults of potential problems include:
- Check the inlet for the first stage - any sign of discolouration is an indication of contamination of the first stage, which is likely to lead to problems with the operation of the regulator. The colour of any contamination is likely to be an indicator of the source of the contamination, but servicing is the solution to all.
- Check all hoses - look for signs of cracking, splits etc. and replace if necessary.
- Connect the regulator to a cylinder and listen - you are looking for any sounds of leaking from connections and/or hoses (squirting with a weak solution of soap and water can help highlight sources).
- Breathe through both regulator and octopus - Check you can do so easily.
- Turn off the cylinder but leave the regulator attached - breathe down the regulator and, once empty, check that you are not able to breathe. If you are able to obtain a breath it may indicate that the exhale valve(s) are worn and need replacing.
If you regulator(s) need servicing, make sure you arrange for this to be done in plenty of time before they will be required for any diving activity. Wherever possible, check any recently serviced regulators in controlled benign conditions as although many service agents make adjustments and then allow the seats to settle before final adjustment, they also advise you allow time to check before using on a dive trip.
A note for diving in cold water
Diving regulators are at increased susceptibility to freeflow in cold water.