All regulators need professional inspection or service at least once a year. However, you can improve your regulator’s performance between service intervals and avoid the need for premature service by properly caring for it between dives.
Your regulator’s greatest enemy is salt water. If allowed to dry inside your regulator, salt crystals can form. These can cause corrosion, damage o-rings and diaphragms, and restrict gas flow.
Simply dipping your regulator in a boat or resort rinse tank following each dive is not enough. There is a specific set of steps you need to follow as soon as you return home to help ensure the salt crystals are completely removed. These are:
- Make sure the first-stage dust cap is firmly in place and fully seals the first-stage inlet.
- Fill your bathtub or sink with very warm water and immerse the regulator in it.
- Allow the regulator to soak for at least one hour (typically until the water has cooled).
- Before removing the regulator from the water, swish it around several minutes to flush out any remaining salt deposits.
- Re-fill the sink or tub with cool, fresh water. Fully immerse the regulator and swish it around again.
- Remove the regulator from the water and set it aside to dry. Make sure it is lying flat, out of direct sunlight, and that there is no strain on any of the hoses.
- Once the regulator has thoroughly dried, store it in a cool, dry area with good ventilation (i.e., not a trunk, utility room or garage).
Do this after every saltwater dive trip and your regulator will provide the best possible performance between service intervals.