Some divers fail to understand exactly how a buoyancy compensator (BC) works and how to repair, or replace, the different components, such as the inflator button.
Follow these pre dive and post dive buoyancy control device maintenance tips to keep your BCD in tip top condition and extend its reliability and lifespan.
Having an inflation device to help you achieve neutral buoyancy makes scuba diving much more relaxing.
Simply put, a BCD reduces the need for excessive energy and it helps you to hover 'weightless' while you're underwater.
This means you can drift along with the flow of the column mid-water.
Here's the thing:
Apart from giving you a lot of control in the water, you can also use it to float in a comfortable position at the surface.
After attaching a BCD to a scuba cylinder, effective and efficient buoyancy will depend on how well it fits your body shape. In addition, you will also need to use some kind of diving weights and trimming for extra fine-tuning.
Pro Tip: Depressing the auto-inflate button allows air to flow from the dive tank into the jacket. But, you can also inflate a BC 'orally' by blowing air into the mouthpiece opening while depressing the inflator button.
After fully filling the BCD with air, check that the pressure-release valves (dump valves) open. Leave it inflated for at least ten (10) minutes to check for air leaks.
The jacket should hold its air pressure without leaking. Have a scuba technician repair any leaks before using it in water.
While you are conducting the air leak test, you can also:
Note: Typical signs of corrosion are rusty-brown colouring, white chalkiness, or green powder residue.
Remove minor rust stains with white vinegar or a soft wire brush. Rinse thoroughly with fresh water afterwards, and regularly apply a silicone spray to help reduce further corrosion.
Before you go diving, ensure the corrugated hose dump and remote exhaust valve cords work properly. You can test them by gently pulling the hose away from the jacket and yanking on the valve toggle cords.
After diving, replace the rubber cap to protect the power inflater connection (if applicable). Thoroughly hose down or soak the BCD with freshwater for at least five (5) minutes to remove sand, salt, chlorine residue, or dirt - both inside and outside.
The next step is one of the most important - yet often neglected. Fill the BCD internal bladder about half full with fresh water. Depress the oral-inflator button and gently run water into the plastic mouthpiece.
Shake the jacket to create a sloshing and agitating of water around the internal bladder. This helps to remove salt water or chlorine from the bladder skin.
Following a thorough rinsing, you will need to drain the water. Tip the BCD upside down while opening the manual inflator button. You should also open the exhaust dump valves to allow water to flush through those assemblies.
Manually inflate the bladder by blowing into the power hose (e.g. the oral mechanism0. Partially inflating the BCD allows you to check the corrugated hose and valve caps for signs of wear.
Your buoyancy controller may have an integrated weight system with ballast pouches. If so, be sure to check the proper function of the quick-release buckles after cleaning.
Inflate the BCD to about half full and hang it in a shaded area out of direct sunlight. Check for leaks one more time before storing it in a cool, dry, area ready for the next time you go diving.
Note: The short video tutorial [1:01 seconds] presented by PADI® shows how to set up a BCD on a dive cylinder and finish the gear assembly in preparation for pool training or a scuba dive.