We’ve got predive and postdive steps to keep your BC in top-notch working condition. If you want to extend the life of your BC for years to come, follow our maintenance tips.
• Check your BC inflator by connecting it to a regulator that’s hooked to a tank. Shoot a few bursts of air into the BC, then release the inflate button and listen for air leaking into the BC that would indicate a stuck inflator. A technician must repair any leaks before you get in the water.
• Next, inflate your BC until the pressure-relief valve pops off, and let the BC stand for about 20 minutes to see if it holds air pressure. While the BC is inflated, check the cummerbund, waist strap, shoulder straps, tank band and all the buckles for excessive wear. If your BC has metal buckles, check them for corrosion, which will weaken the metal structure and eventually cause the buckle to fail. A buildup of white chalky substance or green powder in addition to rust are indications of corrosion. Minor corrosion can generally be cleaned with a stiff brush and a little white vinegar — be sure to rinse the item afterward so the vinegar is thoroughly removed — and a quick spray of food-grade silicone will help to stop future corrosion if it is applied routinely after your equipment is clean and completely dry.
• Start by giving your BC a good freshwater rinse to hose off any big chunks of sand and dirt.
• Fill a tub with fresh water, dunk the BC repeatedly, then leave it alone for a five-minute soak.
• Remove the BC from the tub and give it another hose rinse.
• To rinse the inside, depress the manual-inflate button and hold the mouthpiece under running water until the BC is 60 to 70 percent full of water. Shake the BC to agitate the water and then drain it through each of the dump valves and the inflator hose. You should use each of the dumps, including the pull dump on the BC inflator hose, to remove salt crystals and sand from each of these important valves.
• Inspect the BC’s corrugated hose and hardware for cracks and signs of wear. Also check all valve caps to make sure they’re tight.
• Examine the integrated weight system. Ballast pouches need to be removed and cleaned to clear the quick-release buckles of any obstructions.
• Finally, make sure everything is in working order by fully inflating the bladder and checking for leaks, then pulling the corrugated hose dump and remote exhaust valve cords to make sure they work.
• Job completed, partially inflate the bladder to give it some shape and hang-dry it in some shade, ready for your next dive.
Ready to buy a new BC? Check out our BC Gear Buyers Guide.