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Regulator maintenance intervals

Discussion in 'Basic Scuba' started by loosenit2, Nov 13, 2019.

  1. loosenit2

    loosenit2 si respiratio sub aqua amet

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Virginia
    I occasionally see threads on SB and other sites asking about regulator reliability. My first response to most of the questions is we have no idea what the reliability of various regulators are because there is no published data. There is a corresponding question in my mind though and that is how are regulator maintenance schedules determined?

    Part of my background is in equipment maintenance management. My organization uses Reliability Centered Maintenance as a foundation. Without a too-long explanation RCM starts in equipment design, calculating the probability of failure of individual parts and then prescribing a service schedule to prevent most failure based on accepted risk of failure. Equipment is then monitored throughout its life to determine if predicated failure data matches real world observed data and when they don't match service intervals are adjusted accordingly.

    RCM is in a 3rd generation of the development of maintenance models. 1st generation was fix it when it breaks. 2nd generation of periodic overhaul of equipment. 3rd generation is service and replacement based on predicted failures. 4th generation is Conditions Based Maintenance enabled with monitoring using onboard sensors that can warn of impending failure.

    From a laymans perspective it appears that the SCUBA industry is using a 2nd generation maintenance concept, but I am not an insider.

    Was hoping some industry insiders like @LandonL and @cerich, and hopefully others, could provide some insight as to how service intervals are determined within the industry now and whether any maintenance data is collected and available for analysis.
    drk5036 and FreeFlyFreak like this.
  2. Divectionist

    Divectionist Solo Diver

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Gold Coast, Australia
    where manufacturers want us to be: 2nd generation
    where more and more divers are: 3rd generation
    markmud and FreeFlyFreak like this.
  3. snowdog61

    snowdog61 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Florida's East Coast
    I'd like to think more of us are going to #4, at least those who are servicing their own. Monitoring the IP with a relatively inexpensive gauge goes a long way.
    markmud, wKkaY and rhwestfall like this.
  4. Bob DBF

    Bob DBF Solo Diver

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: NorCal
    Even those that don't service their own gear can use this checklist to monitor their reg and determine when service is actually needed.

    Regulator Inspection and Checklist (Rev-8)

    I guess this would put it at 1st generation, except it is not actually broken, just starting to change from its normal parameters. You might clarify this for me.

    From my experience, the manufacturer service schedule is extremely aggressive, probably even for a dive proffessional. Inspections should be done regularly, but a full rebuild should be done whe the reg starts deviating from its normal operation, or one feels it should be done for whatever reason.

    markmud, rhwestfall and FreeFlyFreak like this.
  5. tbone1004

    tbone1004 Technical Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Greenville, South Carolina, United States
    @loosenit2 those two are going to be essentially unavailable for the next week with DEMA as an FYI. That said, it is all determine by the lawyers and has essentially nothing to do with how we determine maintenance schedules in the real world. Regulator service is a HUGE way for dive shops to make money, and since we operate in an asinine industry that uses scare tactics to generate revenue, even though pretty much all regulators can go years and years and years without service if they're taken care of properly. The problem with that is they don't generate revenue to the manufacturers who make a killing in margin on the parts kits, and the shops who maintain consistent revenue by having the service come in every year.
  6. NCadiver

    NCadiver Dive Shop

    Lawyer are the problem. They have to pick a service time because they don't know how they will be used. A resort dive guide may need more service then once a year diver and you could reverse that dive guide wash his stuff perfectly and the once a year let water into the first stage and hose tightly bent. There has been people with functional regulators panic let alone a unserviced regulator.
  7. jgttrey

    jgttrey ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Houston
    It isn't just lawyers. The reality is that a huge proportion of divers, even those that own their own stuff, have no idea how it works, how to function check it, what the early warning signs are, etc. How many recreational vacation divers own an IP gauge? They also are the least able to manage a problem if they have one underwater.

    Having some regular service interval, assuming they follow it, at least presents some opportunity to check function, clean it properly, and tune it. Good shops, like my LDS, will point out to customers if it appears they have been not cleaning/rinsing properly -- they get a report card so they might actually learn how to do better.

    Totally agree that service intervals don't make a lot of sense if you're more sophisticated, especially if you service your own gear. But most divers aren't and don't, and for them a stated interval is better than nothing.
    BoltSnap and Fibonacci like this.
  8. tbone1004

    tbone1004 Technical Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Greenville, South Carolina, United States
    @NCadiver I don't think it's a lawyer problem at all. If it was, then there would likely be an industry standard for it. Same with VIP's and all of that, it's all about revenue generation to the manufacturers and dive shops. By keeping divers ignorant about all of it, they can use the scare tactics to enforce it.... Back in the day the regulators used to come with schematics and rebuild manuals when you bought them, those went away around the same time the industry started going to mass appeal and started the LDS model etc etc.
    Bob DBF, Fibonacci and rhwestfall like this.
  9. rhwestfall

    rhwestfall Woof! ScubaBoard Sponsor

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: "La Grande Ile"
    Tell me.... I married one...
    Bob DBF and FreeFlyFreak like this.
  10. snowdog61

    snowdog61 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Florida's East Coast
    Well, you did know that going in....
    Getting back on topic.. Most parts kits are available with some manufacturers even offering direct purchase. A good few of the OEMs have pushed their recommended interval from yearly to 2 years. I have friends that still insist on a yearly interval to keep their "free" parts despite my advise and showing even them on the IP gauge. Having a reg set fail on a big trip is horrible but it's not the end of the world. I carry spare stages along with a rebuild kit as mitigation but I can't tell you how many people I've seen get in a jam with getting a rebuild right before a trip and experiencing a failure immediately after - it happened to me before I started servicing my own. Service should be based on reg performance. There are good shops that will test the set and tell you, "no, it's working fine. I'll tune it for you, but you don't need a rebuild just yet." Other shops, "yeah, good thing you brought it in. It needs a rebuild for sure!" and not even put a gauge on it.
    markmud and Bob DBF like this.

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