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Soaking Camera housings?

Discussion in 'Tips & Techniques' started by WOODMAN, Aug 30, 2014.


    WOODMAN Contributor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Minneapolis area, Minnesota
    I continue to battle the dreaded salt fiend in my Ikelite camera housing. I have tried just about everything, from trying to get a rinse bucket on the dive boat (nearly impossible some places) to extended soaking in the camera tank back at the resort, to putting the housing in a cooler filled with water in my hotel room, etc,etc. Nothing seems to really work, and the buttons on my housing slowly start to stick after the housing has dried off. The only real cure seems to be to send the housing back to Ikelite for an overhaul, but there has got to be a better way. I came up with the idea of soaking the housing in a cooler filled with distilled water for several days here at home, periodically operating the buttons and levers to let the water really get in there and soak the salt out. Do you think this will do any good? I even tried putting minute amounts of liquid silicone (food grade) around the buttons and trying to work it in, with questionable results. Anybody have any better ideas?
  2. Doubler

    Doubler Contributor

    # of Dives:
    Location: Bremerton, WA
    I would advise that you use only the silicone recommended by Ikelite. Some silicone greases can have a chemical reaction with the oring causing them to swell or get brittle, neither of which are a good thing.
  3. EastEndDiver

    EastEndDiver Captain

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: Long Island NY
    I had at one time contacted Ikelite and asked them about the sticking buttons and they recommend using the "Ikelite Silicone" and putting a dab on the inside of the button while you hold it in and then work the button ......I have had no problems since doing that before and after every dive trip.
  4. TheRealScubaSteve

    TheRealScubaSteve Contributor

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Massachusetts
    Not sure about lubing them, but I ran into some button-sticking issues with my GoPro housing. Soaking it in a rinse tank didn't do much at first, but with warm water and manipulating the buttons enough so any crystals broke up allowed it to dissolve pretty quickly.
  5. JahJahwarrior

    JahJahwarrior ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: West Palm Beach, Fl
    I dive frequently with an Ikelite housing. It's never been back for service and it's atleast 4 years old. The buttons don't stick to the point of being a problem but a few aren't butter smooth anymore. I do a rinse and then a 5-10 minute soak, press each button several times, and that's about it.

    I wouldn't let anything other than the Ikelite grease near the housing.

    You can buy the button repair kit and just repair yourself every once in a while, as well. I've had buttons in other housings stick before and it's no fun at all.
  6. sunnyboy

    sunnyboy Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Vancouver Island, Canada
    I'm on my second Ikelite housing (new camera = new housing), and only ever had a button stick once. As per instructions, I just put a small dab of grease on the shaft and it was good as new.

    When I rinse my housing, I work all the buttons underwater in the rinse bucket. Once the camera is out and sitting on my 'drying towel', I once again press every button while blowing vigorously at the button to clear the water.

    The first housing was purchased in 2007; I dive in the ocean weekly and pretty much always take the housing, so that housing has had plenty of exposure to salt over the years and still works perfectly.
    Allison Finch likes this.
  7. KeithG

    KeithG Guest

    i have never had sticky buttons and do not seem to do much more soaking than you.

    on a day boat, the camera gets a quick rinse in the camera bucket after each dive and then is wrapped in a towel for the trip back to the dock. camera then soaks for about 15 minutes while we rinse and stow the rest of the gear. i then run a quick shower on it back at the hotel room.

    on a liveaboard it gets more water time and less soaking. a quick 2 minute soak in the camera tank. i then plunge the camera in and out of the tank about 5 times and then it sits on the camera table under a towel until the next dive. no other soaking for the complete week.

    once at home the housings go into a tub / sink for several days soaking. i change the water about twice a day. push all of the buttons after the first few hours.

    same routine for multiple amphibico, canon and sea&sea housings.

    WOODMAN Contributor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Minneapolis area, Minnesota
    Okay, I'm going to try an extended soak and then Ikelite grease on the inside of the button shafts. We will see what we will see.

  9. JackConnick

    JackConnick Optical Ocean Sales ScubaBoard Business Sponsor ScubaBoard Supporter

    Try soaking with warm water and some vinegar. Vinegar dissolves salt crystals and won't harm the housing, warm water helps. Doesn't have to be a super strong solution, but enough that you can smell it. Then, yes Ikelite grease sparingly on the inside of the controls.

    We have a Free Maintenance Handbook and Article available in our Resource Center on the store site.

    oly5050user and NautilusCairns like this.
  10. JohnnyC

    JohnnyC PADI Pro

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: United States
    I've got one of those "Kitchen Sink" type collapsible buckets from REI. Goes on the boat and gets filled with salt water. Camera soaks in the same ocean water between dives, instead of a community rinse tank that shortly becomes salt water anyway, not to mention the "community" aspect being a potential threat to your gear. It's awfully easy for someone to drop their camera on top of yours. For the real rinse I take it from the tank to warm fresh water ASAP, and cycle the water out regularly so that it is always fresh water that's doing the rinsing. Let it soak for 5 minutes, run the controls, swap the water, 5 minutes, run the controls, swap the water, 5 minutes, swap the water. I generally do it for 15 or 20 minutes. Then dry thoroughly. Use your manufacturers recommended grease sparingly, not excessively.

    Rinse tanks get salty, and dried salt is a killer for o-rings. I choose to avoid the problem by keeping the camera wet. This doesn't always work for everybody, but it works for me. Find what works for you and run with it.
    Allison Finch and fisheater like this.

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