Your BC is one of the largest gear investments you'll make. Fortunately, with proper care it can last for a decade or more. I know many old-timers who dive with BCs that are 10 to 20 years old. These guys all have two things in common: they dive regularly and each performs a maintenance ritual after every dive. Here are some of their best tips for BC care.
- Wash your BC in freshwater after every dive and give it a thorough cleaning at the end of a trip. This is particularly important if you've been diving in saltwater.
- Soaking for a few minutes in a tub is more effective than rinsing with a hose. To deodorize, add baking soda to the water.
- Wash inside to remove salt crystals and sand that can rub through the airtight coating. Use mild soaps like Ivory or a children's shampoo. Partially fill the bladder with warm, soapy water by depressing the deflate button and filling through the oral inflation opening. Then orally inflate your BC fully. Shake it around and drain.
- Flush both air-dump valves. If the lower rear valve can be disassembled, do it care fully. Fill and empty the BC through the opening. Reassemble the valve in the reverse order from which you took it apart.
- Air dry your BC in a shaded, ventilated area hanging upside down. This will ensure that water drains to the deflator hose. Depress the deflate button periodically to empty.
- Store your BC partially inflated, preferably on a thick plastic hanger or hanging from its garment loop or carrying handle. Protect it from extreme heat and sunlight.
- Take your BC in to an authorized dealer for an annual tune-up or before a trip after an extended layoff.