Weighing a BCD in the garden

Dive gear maintenance: BCDs

Dive gear is expensive but looked after correctly it will give you many years of service. You are reliant on this equipment at depth and ensuring it is always in excellent condition means you never need to fear an equipment failure will spoil your dive.


When you buy a BCD make sure it is the right size. Too often a salesperson will tell you if it is a bit loose over your T-shirt it’s okay as a wetsuit is thicker… Don’t fall for that, your 7 millimetre wetsuit is not much thicker than 2 millimetres at 40 metres and an ill-fitting BCD at depth is not pleasant. The other important factor is that you may end up diving in the tropics, half naked, and a snug BCD is important.

Make sure you have tried a rental rear inflation as well as a side inflation before you buy. If you don’t know the difference, try it before you buy it. Side inflation BCDs with pockets are popular with training schools (instructors can pop weights in students’ pockets if they are too buoyant). It is a rugged style of BCD and it’s cheaper than most integrated weight BCDs.

Weighing a BCD in the garden
Weighing a BCD in the garden

Another important factor is the weight. If you will travel often with your gear consider a lightweight travel BCD as some BCD’s can weigh as much as 3-4 kilograms.


Rinse your BCD in the bath in warm water. Very often you will find there is water inside the bladder of your BCD. This happens when you hold the deflate button long after it is empty on your descent. Fill the bladder with a few liters of warm water by holding the BCD down in the bath and holding the deflate button. Then give it a good shake to swirl the water around and dissolve salt crystals (warm water dissolves salt quicker than cold water).

Flushing water from inside the BCD
Flushing water from inside the BCD

Invert the BCD and allow at least half of the water to run out by depressing the inflate button. This ensures the small valve and tiny opening on the inflation side is flushed. (Do this often and you will never have a sticky inflator.)

Drain the last water by depressing the deflate button, then orally inflate the BCD, drain it again, inflate it again and hang it up to dry, in the shade. Clip all the clips – a closed clip is less likely to break. Extend the straps so they are not folded over in the same spot constantly.

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Scuba diver, teacher, gadget man, racing driver, boat skipper, photographer, and collector of stray animals