Maintaining our diving cylinders
As a diver, you maybe don’t put too much thought into the diving cylinder you are using. Unless it looks obvious that it’s seen better days, you’ll just get on with the job of setting your equipment up with it. But all diving equipment at any dive centre gets a lot of use, and behind the scenes everything needs constant care to keep it in good condition. Cylinders are no different. On a daily basis, cylinders should be rinsed with fresh water after each and every dive. Saltwater is corrosive and gets into everything. Keeping some air in a tank prevents the water from getting inside it, but how many times have you tried to turn on your tank and the plastic wheel is really hard to move? That’s saltwater getting into the stem. Washing with freshwater helps stop the salt from accumulating, but every so often the valves should be serviced, usually every six months. Another way for water to get into a cylinder is through a compressor that is not properly maintained. They have filters that need to be regularly changed. This is also the reason why your air may smell a little oily- this is not a good sign!
The cylinders themselves should undergo a visual inspection every year by a qualified service technician. This involves taking off the valve and looking inside the tank to check for corrosion and ensure the integrity of the metal. Any build up of salt means that the tank may need to be “tumbled”, which means putting pebbles inside and constantly rotating it to scour the insides clean again. If everything is ok with the tank, it should have a sticker that shows it has passed the inspection.
Every five years, tanks need to be hydrostatically tested. This involves pressure testng the cylinder with water to check the strength of the metal. Cylinders should be stamped to show that they have passed the test.
At Alba Dive Tulamben, we do the annual inspection ourselves, as our staff are ASSET trained technicians. When we need to get our tanks hydrostatically tested we get the testing company to come to Alba to do all the tanks in one go. You will see visual inspection stickers on all of our cylinders, and all tanks older than five years will have a hydro-stamp on them. Our compressors are also very well maintained to ensure that the air you breathe is always very clean. We pride ourselves on having the best air in Bali, possibly even Indonesia.
So whether you are fun diving on a single tank, technical diving using decompression mixes, or using our 3L CCR cylinders, you can use our cylinders with confidence that they are well looked after. Just ensure that when you dive anywhere else you check the general condition of the cylinders and look out for the visual stickers and hydro stamps. If they are not present, it’s time to talk to the dive operator or maybe dive with another operator.