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Welcome to Dive Gear Reviews, a comprehensive guide to scuba diving equipment. Scuba diving is an expensive pursuit, so looking up reviews for a particular article of equipment is a wise precaution before investing any hard-earned money in it. However, consumer reviews may or may not be written by an experienced diver, and magazine reviews could be suspect due to the advertising ties of the publication in question. Dive Gear Reviews provides cross-referenced reviews assembled by an expert, making it possible to see at a glance what multiple sources said about a particular piece of scuba equipment. If one magazine loved a scuba regulator or a dive computer, but the consumers hated it, that information will be found here.

How to Care for and Maintain BCDs

Written by Dive Gear Reviews Editor. Comments Off on How to Care for and Maintain BCDs Posted in: BCDs, Dive Gear Tips, Scuba Product Guides
A set-up scuba rig, including BCD.

BCDs need love too.

Even a second-hand, budget BCD is a major investment, and along with a dive computer and a regulator, your BCD is probably one of the most expensive pieces of scuba equipment you own. BCDs are also important because they are the foundation of your gear assembly, the one thing that almost everything you take on a dive seems to wind up attached to in some way. Finally, a failure in your BCD will probably ruin your dive experience, and might even prove dangerous.

For all these reasons, a diver needs to take care of their investment and maintain their BCD. However, it seems that proper care of a BCD is frequently glossed over or even outright ignored in the Open Water courses offered at many dive centers. More often than not, the instructor and other dive center staffers see to the BCDs themselves as part of the service, and in the process don’t teach novices how to care for the rather expensive gear their students will one day own. These are the care and maintenance steps they usually forget to teach you in basic dive class.

Between Dives
Inspect your straps, cummerbund, buckles and the fabric of the BCD for signs of wear and corrosion. Address any rust or other metal corrosion at once, and if your straps and other parts (usually made of nylon fabric) are showing signs of severe fraying, it’s time to either replace that part or replace the BCD. Shoulder and tank straps can usually be replaced, but you probably won’t be able to replace a torn-up cummerbund.

Like wetsuits, the nylon fabric of a BCD benefits from the periodic cleaning. Fill up a tank or your bathtub with lukewarm water with a moderate amount of a cold water wash detergent like Woolite, and give it a soak for about half an hour. Rinse the BCD off thoroughly and dry it out normally.

Before Dives
BCDs always have pressure relief valves, to prevent you from over-filling the BCD and bursting the air cell. Its a good idea to test that system periodically, so fill the BCD up until you pop the valve. Of course, if the valve is defective you might blow your air cell, but it’s better to find that out on dry land and not when you need the BCD as a flotation device. That way you only lose the air cell, and not the air cell and your weights.

After Dives
Like the rest of your set of equipment, BCDs must be rinsed in freshwater after each dive. However, just as for the rest of your gear, simply dunking the BCD is not enough if it is going into storage. Dunking is good enough if you have another dive later than day, and it is good enough to get you home, but it is not good enough if your BCD is going onto the hanger for a week or two. Once you get your BCD home, rinse off the exterior thoroughly with a hose.

One of the things instructors rarely teach students at dive school is to rinse out the interior of the BCD as well. Whenever a diver dumps air underwater, there is a chance for a little saltwater to get inside the air cell. So, after rinsing off the exterior, take the inflator, push down on the manual inflate/deflate button, and pour water into the air cell. Fill the air cell to about 3/4s capacity, give it a shake, and drain it completely. Don’t always use the inflator hose to drain the BCD when rinsing the air cell; instead, use the dump valves from time to time and wash them out as well.