Preventative Maintenance vs Reactive Maintenance
One of the most asked question regarding scuba equipment maintenance is: “How often should I get my equipment serviced?”
Factors To Consider
Manufacturers Recommendations – some manufacturers have specific warranties as long as certain processes are followed.
Environmental Factors – where am I diving? Salt water, fresh water or in the pool? Water chemistry and particulates in the water can have adverse effects on your equipment and may require you to service your gear more often.
Actual Usage – I don’t use my equipment very much. When your equipment is not being used it is still incurring wear: the internal seats (generally soft materials) and orifices (generally hard materials) are under constant spring pressure thus creating a wear groove in the seat. This is one of the reasons after a prolonged period of inactivity your second stage leaks when you pressure up your regulator.
So, what is the correct answer?
Preventative maintenance (or planned maintenance) is maintenance that is regularly performed on a piece of equipment to lessen the likelihood of it failing. It is performed while the equipment is still working so that it does not break down unexpectedly. This type of maintenance program can either be time based or usage based. Your scuba equipment should be inspected at least yearly and serviced according to the manufacturer’s recommendations or more often depending upon the factors listed above.
Preventative Maintenance is much more cost effective than Reactive Maintenance (Unplanned Maintenance). Unplanned, reactive maintenance has many overhead costs that can be avoided. The cost of unplanned maintenance includes higher costs for parts and shipping, possibly having to rent equipment, as well as time lost (missed dives) diagnosing faults while equipment is not working. Unplanned maintenance typically costs three to nine times more than planned maintenance. When maintenance is planned, each of these costs can be reduced and equipment can be serviced to coincide with your schedule.
Preventative Maintenance also ensures your equipment is functioning as the manufacturer intended. A regulator that is out of adjustment will not only perform poorly, it could cause safety issues due to increased work of breathing. Your BCD inflation mechanism or dump valves can also cause unsafe conditions if they are not operating properly.
You should always keep in mind your scuba equipment is a Life Support System! It needs to be functioning as the manufacturer designed. The only way to insure this, is to have your equipment inspected and serviced regularly by a trained, certified professional.