Looking after your regulators is important so that they last as long as possible and there are a few helpful tips and tricks to storing them when you’re not diving with them that can really extend their lifespan.
Wash Them Thoroughly
During your dives contaminants like salt and algae can work their way into the small crevices of your regulators and when they dry can discolour and damage parts of your regulators. It is very important that you wash every part of your regulator with warm fresh water and a small amount of detergent to remove these contaminants before storage.
If possible, the best way to do so is with them attached to a pressurised cylinder so that water cannot enter the hoses or 1st stage. If a cylinder is not available then place your thumb over the inlet on your 1st stage, the dust cap will not be enough to create a watertight seal. Wash your regulators thoroughly, paying particular attention to the inside of the 2nd stages, small crevices and hoses but do not push the purge button as this will allow water to get inside the hoses and that can damage your regulators.
Keep Them Dry
It’s very important to keep your regulators dry on the inside and outside when storing them. Your regulators obviously get wet during a dive and while you wash them but you need to let them dry thoroughly but not in direct sunlight as this can cause parts to discolour and deteriorate at a faster rate.
Towel dry your regulators at first and then air dry them, making sure that any water collected inside the 2nd stages is drained. Silica packets you receive with certain goods are handy to keep around your regulators when storing them as they absorb moisture so your regs stay dry and fresh.
Keep Them Flat
The hoses on your regulator are best kept as straight as possible so they don’t develop any stress points or crack over time. Their bag is not always the best place to store them. If you have space, then a long shelf where the hoses can lay flat is the best way to store your regulators. Hanging your regulators from the 1st stage can bend the hoses at the joints so they crack over time so be sure to check your hoses, especially under hose protectors, after long periods of storage.
Keep Them in the Dark
Regulators are best kept in a cool, dark cupboard where sunlight, high or low temperatures and atmospheric agents cannot affect your regulators as readily. Sunlight can affect the materials that comprise your regulators so they discolour and deteriorate, they become brittle or crack so it’s best to keep your regulators out of the light. High and low temperatures cause parts to expand and contract and deteriorate so it’s best to keep your regulators as cool as possible with no extremes of temperature. Gases, chemicals and aerosols can deteriorate parts of your regulators so try to avoid garages and garden sheds where chemicals are kept.
Don’t Store Them for Long
Over long periods of storage, 6+ months, parts inside your regulator can perish and need replacing. O-Rings and other sealing parts are made to be soft to create an effective seal but if not used they will become harder and brittle. Try to use your regulators once a month or so to keep the parts moving freely and get your regulators tested or serviced if they’ve been in storage for 6 months or more.
Take The Pressure Off
Some regulators feature a storage function on the 2nd stages that takes the pressure off the sealing surface. Over time the spring pushing the sealing poppet into the soft sealing seat can cause the seat to bed in and allow gas to creep past. Taking the pressure off the spring can help lengthen the time it takes for the seat to bed in.
If your regulator does not feature a storage function then the best thing you can do is to unscrew any breathing adjustment knob as much as possible, without using tools or disassembling your regulator, on your 2nd stage so it is as light as possible as this will reduce the pressure on the seat.