Manta Divers October, 2011 Got (Clean) Air?
In your entry level scuba class you learned about the regulator, how to care for it, and the dangers of contaminated air, but it is surprising how many divers forget about all of that and just assume that air is air. It does keep our repair department busy!
Case in point, an experienced diver brought his regulator in for its scheduled rebuild. With that service done, the diver headed to the Keys for some saltwater and sun. He returned to the Midwest and did several dives locally with an unnamed shop, while taking a course. After completion of the course, he brought his regulator back and wanted us to take another look at it as the second stage was “fluttering.” The first thing Mike noticed was that the filter on the first stage was a bit green. This should be gray and if it is discolored it could mean that the reg was not properly rinsed between dives. Filing that information away, he put the regulator on a tank and checked the intermediate pressure, a measure of how the first stage is functioning. It was still right on the money. Next, to check for ease of breathing, he took a breath from the second stage. After a bunch of spitting and gagging, he reported that it was like taking a deep breath in an outhouse in July. This nasty taste can be due to not cleaning your regulator thoroughly post dive, but it seemed an unlikely explanation, knowing this particular diver. Mike then pulled off the mouthpiece and proceeded with a full inspection.
Hiding under the mouthpiece was an oily residue that looked like a combination of tomato soup and peanut butter. So what was it and where did it come from? It’s possible to have such an accumulation if the second stage is not rinsed, but it could also be the result of fills from a malfunctioning air compressor. That explanation certainly could explain the discolored first stage filter. The diagnosis was clear, however, when the first stage hoses were inspected. The very same gunk that was on the mouthpiece was found inside the hose. Clearly, this diver got tanks that had been filled by a compressor that was backing up condensate into their system. The nasty stuff is partially vegetable oil from the compressor and part moisture and contaminants from the air that we breathe every, but is supposed to be filtered out in the compressor. Mike replaced the filters and cleaned the rest and the regulator was good to go.
It really pays to ask some questions when getting your tanks filled. Reputable dive shops have their air analyzed quarterly and shown to be free of moisture and contaminants and will be happy to share this with you. Remember, however, this does not guarantee that nothing can happen to the compressor in between air checks, so don’t forget to pay attention to how the air smells and tastes when you take that first breath .
In Other News………………
Buy one computer and get one free! Buy a Suunto Cobra 3 and get a Suunto M 2 Fitness computer for free. Now you can train for better diving fitness. The Cobra is an air integrated dive computer featuring the quick disconnect for easy travel, electronic compass, gas switching, optional deep stops, and much more.
Have you ever felt frustrated that you could not communicate with your buddy under water? Sea Signs can help. Sea Signs is a course for underwater communication that is based on American Sign Language. In this course you will learn basic signs for safety, communication, and creature and fish names. Sign up today. The class will be held at the shop Tuesday, October 25 and Tuesday, November 1 at 6:30pm.
Buoyancy clinic is scheduled for November 15 (classroom session) and November 22 (pool session.) Once a diver has his open water certification, this is course is a must. When a diver has excellent buoyancy control, he will consume less air, be less prone to touch the delicate aquatic life or stir up the bottom, decreasing visibility. This course is a must for potential wreck divers and underwater photographers.
Emergency First Response Course, scheduled for December 6 and 13th, will give you the confidence to take action and help when accidents occur. It is also a prerequisite for Rescue diver and Divemaster. Be ready!
The Barbados trip, planned for January, is sold out, but there is still room on the Saba trip. April is when you will be itching to get in the water after a long cold winter. Put in your deposit and join Team Manta on yet another great adventure!
You probably heard that we spent our last dive trip carving pumpkins in open water. Click this link to take a look!
Finally, Congratulations to new divers, Amanda Hain, Chris Mason, Eric Bates, Patrick Gazarkiewcz, Angela, Sam and Zander Huang, Patty Wojtack, Jamie Drissel, Ann Cooksey and Paul Gordon. In addition, we congratulate new Advanced Open Water diver, Cal Radulescu, and Digital Underwater Photgrapher, Sheryl Brandes.