One of my regulators

Dive gear maintenance: Regulators

People often say this is the most important part of your dive gear. It’s not – they are all equally important: take any one item out of the equation and see how lousy your dive is.

One of my regulators
One of my regulators

It is however a sensitive part of dive gear and needs more meticulous care.


If possible rinse and purge your second stages in water whilst connected to a cylinder. If you don’t have a cylinder handy, purge the regulators thoroughly before turning your air off. This helps to blow out sand and water. Remember to dry and fit the dust cap the minute you remove the regulator from the cylinder.

Do not submerge the first stage in water, hold it just above the bath and splash water on it to rinse off any salt or sand. Do not depress the purge buttons on your regulators while you are washing it, as this will allow water to enter the system.

I like to soak the regulators in warm water and rinse the inside of the mouth piece thoroughly whilst connected to a cylinder. Try and rub the inside of your mouth piece with your little finger and feel if its slimy: if it is it needs to be stripped and cleaned.

Water in the system

If for some reason your first stage is submerged without the dust cap, or if you run out of air at depth and water gets into it, it should go for a service as soon as possible as it will be possible for a service technician to strip, clean and re-assemble it. If you leave it for a while it will need a service kit and occasionally some parts will require replacement if they have become corroded.

Many people believe that a quick fix for a submerged first stage is to connect it to a cylinder, turn on the air and depress both purge buttons for several minutes. This is utter rubbish: while it may remove some of the moisture, the high volume of air will drop the temperature inside the pillar valve and first stage resulting in more moisture content than you started with. The big issue is that the second you open the cylinder the system is charged with the high pressure port then opened and all the water will go directly to your pressure gauge capillary tube and this will be the beginning of the end for your pressure gauge.

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

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