So...its a new year, your kit has been snuggled up warm and dry somewhere safe for the winter and the season is just around the corner. NOW is the time to dig it out from storage, cover the front room floor with kit and give it a good going over. I've covered pre-season checks before in a couple of pages on our site for regulators and everything else which run through, in some detail, what to check and look out for but this is a reminder to all the 'last minute' people out there. Its all easy stuff to do but why put it off until the night before you go diving. Things you should be sure to check include:
Cylinders The obvious things to look for are corrosion to the outside of the cylinder and that the cylinders are still in test and/or are still oxygen clean if you need it. Don't forget to remove the cylinder boot if you have one fitted, under the boot is normally a good corrosion point.
Regulators Have a look for physical damage to the first and second stages including cracks to the second stage housing and also check the condition of hoses by pulling the hose protectors out of the way to look for perishing. Inspect the mouthpieces and the means of fixing to make sure it is securely fitted. Check your gauges for signs of corrosion and malfunction like the needle sticking or otherwise not working. If you have pressurised cylinders it is a very good idea to assemble the regulators on to the cylinder and fire them up for a quick cycle check. To check that the regulators are in good working order, pressurise the system, pick up the primary second stage, cover the mouthpiece outlet with your finger (prevents the regulator free flowing) and press the purge button a good few times. Repeat this for the Octopus. This should show up problems like worn valve seats in the first or second stages which are recognisable by air creeping from the second stage.
BCDs (& Drysuits) BCDs are pretty simple to check. The three obvious things to check are that the BCD inflates, stays inflated and deflates when needed. Connect your BCD to your inflator hose and inflate it until the over pressurisation valves vent the excess air. Disconnect the BCD from the hose and leave for an hour or so to check that it stays inflated. Assuming it stayed inflated, methodically check each of the dumps to ensure they don't stick. With the essentials check, give the BCD a going over by looking for wear and abrasions. The same applies to drysuits (you'll just need to either get in it to perform the air tightness check or find something to plug the seals) but with the addition of checking the condition of the seals and zip. Don't forget to give the rest of your kit a once over as well. Here are some points to check:
- Mask – Silicone skirt and strap
- Dive Computer - Battery and strap condition
- Weight belt – Buckle and webbing
- Torch – Battery condition and o-rings
- Reel – Now is a good time to unwind and check the line condition
- Marker buoys – Air tightness, fitting point and vents (if fitted)
- Knife – clean and protect with silicone if required and inspect means of fitting (especially if using rubber straps
- Fins – Strap and buckle condition