How to Maintain Scuba Tanks

Hawaiian Diving Adventures

Like any other piece of scuba gear, it is important to maintain your scuba tank and valve. Tanks often end up getting thrown around, placed on the bottom of the gear piles, and even used as doorstops. Scuba tanks and valves are pretty tough, but they are not indestructible and need regular service.

Visual inspections need to happen at least every year. Hydrostatic inspections must occur at least every five years in the United States.  But do you know what is being inspected and why?

During a visual inspection, you first take the valve off of the tank. Then you place a light source (and sometimes a probe) into the tank to look for any corrosion, pitting, or other contaminants. It is amazing what you can find in there (in this case, some fuzz & funky metal shavings)! 

A visual inspection detects neck cracks or other imperfections in the tank construction before they fail.

During a hydrostatic test, you fill a tank with water, pressurize it, and measure the expansion of the tank.

Caring for a tank is easy. Do these tests on schedule, give them a quick freshwater rinse once in a while, and avoid extreme temperatures and impacts. If cared for, most tanks have a lifespan measured in decades. But a tank is more than a metal cylinder.

The valve is often forgotten. Valves have the hardest job of any piece of scuba gear. They must seal and release very high pressures in a controlled manner, time after time.

There are many ways to care for your valves. First, never over-tighten the valve handle. The valve seat that makes the seal, closing the tank, does not need extra pressure to seal. Cranking the handle closed will only bend the valve stem. Valve stems should give you years of flawless service, but there is no way to repair a bent one, like the one on the right.

Corrosion of the valve is another big concern. If water enters the tank, it will cause the metals to corrode.

Annual valve service involves disassembling the valve and cleaning every piece.

Sometimes small air leaks come from the valve handle. These often come from a valve that is not maintained. This means the seat has worn, the o-rings are beginning to fail, or corrosion prevents proper sealing. Here are pics of a corroded nut and valve stem and a nasty corroded washer: yuck!

 

 

Regular valve service guarantees many, many years of operation. We recommend having it done at least once a year when the tank gets a visual inspection. This is a service you may need to ask about since most tank service is usually done a la carte and not combined with other work.

Tank and valve repair can be rather technical, requiring specialized tools and procedures. We have the training and equipment to keep your tanks happy and operational for many years to come. If your tanks are ready for service or they are making funny noises, call (808) 232-3193 or bring it in so we can take a look.

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