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Strange regulator failure

Discussion in 'Accidents and Incidents' started by NickDanger, Jul 6, 2020.

  1. John C. Ratliff

    John C. Ratliff Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Beaverton, Oregon
    Okay, I've read or at least skimmed all these posts in this thread. I'm not going to repeat any of what others have said. But I think most (I saw one exception) everyone have missed an important point. I believe that your Cressi Master Chromo regulator is the T-10 model, which has an environmentally sealed first stage. Why? Well, that's the only explanation of the grease on the outside of the regulator, and the Cressi manual states,
    But Cressida doesn't state how the first stage is sealed. Most likely it is sealed using silicone grease. You fill the space normally occupied by air/water with silicone grease. This allows the water pressure to be transmitted through the grease to the diaphragm (I believe this is a balanced diaphragm design, on page 52 of the below manual.

    This is important because when the silicone grease is heated, it becomes more like liquid, and flows. It would flow out the small holes which normally would hold the silicone grease inside, and get all over both the regulator and other stuff.

    Now, if the silicone grease is inappropriately applied, it could be on both the outside (environmental unit is outside the internals of the regulator) and the inside. I had that happen once with my Scubapro Mark V/AIR I regulator. I found silicone grease on the inside of my AIR I second stage!!! I took the regulator to the dive shop, and found that the owner had not only filled the environmental unit, but had also put a bunch of silicone grease into the internals of the first stage, which had been blown through the inside of the LP hose and into the second stage. He said something to the effect of,

    "Oh, you use the the theory that the grease should only be in the environmental unit."

    Well, I have a health background, and know that grease should not be breathed. That was the last time I used that dive shop, or actually any dive shop, to service my regulators. I became a DIY diver, servicing my own regulators, as I had been trained by the U.S Navy in regulator repair.

    For your regulator, if the silicone grease did get inside the second stage, it is possible that it caused the diaphragm to slip a bit under suction, causing the water leak. Those leaks can become pretty bad, as I had one on my Dacor Pacer (plastic version), and had to switch to my other Dacor Enduro second stage for the rest of the dive (it was a solo dive).

    Sending it back to the dive shop allowed them to fix any problems, and conceal anything that they did which may not have been according the manufacturer's specifications.

    Dark Wolf, Hiszpan, eleniel and 4 others like this.
  2. johndiver999

    johndiver999 Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Gainesville FL

    Went diving yesterday and figured I should take a moment to practice what I... To be honest, I haven't pressed the purge and breathed from the reg for probably a year or more.

    Did it for 10 seconds.. easy peasy... This is an important skill that can be practiced with zero disruption of your dive. Also serves as a good check on your buddy.. Does s/he hear/notice the freeflow?
    InTheDrink and AfterDark like this.
  3. InTheDrink

    InTheDrink DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: UK, South Coast
    I’m not risk adverse. But I switch between 3 regs every dive.

    I don’t bother with BWRAF or whatever it is these days.

    Can I breathe from all sources?

    Will my wing inflate/deflate.

    The rest is pastry.
  4. NickDanger

    NickDanger Garibaldi

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: North Carolina
    My first stage regulator is the AC10V which is not environmentally sealed. So, there should be VERY minimal silicon lube on some of the rubber bits. I did get my regs back. No greasy feeling. I have yet to air it up for testing. I did notice the hoses look a little different. I cannot swear to it, but the hoses appear to be shiny and new and not the hoses that were on there when I sent them off. So, assuming I don’t pick up some DIY skills in the next couple of years, I will have to get a dive shop to service my regs. Whether I drop it off or mail it, I will take pictures beforehand and next time I will keep my old parts. So, the whole thing is still a mystery.

    What is not a mystery is my response to my recent experience. I shall strive to be more cautious and safety-minded. That should go without saying and is foundational teaching in any basic SCUBA instruction. But...after dozens and dozens of dives with ZERO serious problems it certainly lulled me into complacency.

    In general things just don’t go wrong...until they do. The individual bares responsibility for bad decisions. Training can mitigate catastrophe. Sharing personal failure can be a cautionary tale to others.
  5. halocline

    halocline Solo Diver

    You had a regulator problem on a dive, and you survived. How about that! Don't listen to this garbage about you not picking up your own regs possibly costing you your life. If a regulator tech or dive shop owner ever talked to me like that after working on my regs I'd slug him in the chops. And I'm not a particularly violent person....

    The lessons from this experience, IMO, are:

    1. You and/or your buddy need to do a better job diving together. When your reg started to breath wet, you should have been able to simply breathe off your buddy's alternate and ascend. Why didn't that happen? It was a perfect chance to practice an actual gear failure situation.

    2. It is a very good idea to check out your regulator carefully before using it on a dive, and that includes a leak/vacuum test. If your 2nd stage was breathing wet, it certainly would not have held a vacuum on dry land. That is a 5 second test, if that. Simply connect the reg to a tank, leave the valve off, and try to inhale through your 2nd stage. If it does not hold vacuum (meaning you can draw air in) there's a leak, and water will certainly leak in. If you have a good-fitting dust cap, you don't even need to hook it up to a tank, just try drawing breath with the dust cap in place.

    3. Your experience proves that divers do in fact, pee in their wetsuits. Usually it's not in fear, though! Look on the bright side, you saved yourself a trip to a covid-infested public bathroom where the virus lurks, ready to jump out of toilets at unsuspecting flushers.

    Who knows what happened to your reg, but it was probably the heat in the car that deformed the exhaust valve or diaphragm on your 2nd stage, those are pretty thin little pieces of silicone, and if they don't seal correctly, in comes water. It's a lot worse when facing up. If it happens again, face down, try to sip in air while using your tongue to block water coming in. It sort of works. But if you learn to check your regs for both air leaks (hissing/bubbles) and water leaks (vacuum as described) it probably will not happen again.
    apenland01 and Bob DBF like this.
  6. PBcatfish

    PBcatfish Regular of the Pub

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Florida
    A little update here:
    After seeing this post from me, board member James79 was kind enough to contact me with an offer to 3D print a replacement part. I am happy to report that the gentleman was successful & that regulator now works again. I am going to try to dive it sometime in the next week or so, weather permitting.
  7. Rusty Shackleford

    Rusty Shackleford Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Port Canaveral Florida
    James79 is good people. One of many on this board. He printed a couple of parts for me too.
  8. PBcatfish

    PBcatfish Regular of the Pub

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Florida
    Agreed. The gentleman is a top notch individual.
  9. Mark IV

    Mark IV Barracuda

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: Georgia
    This was the part of the OP that jumped out at me. I'm thinking, if you did a dive/ascent that caused you to do a long SI and to be checking check yourself for DCS, you probably shouldn't do the 2nd dive, and I say that from direct experience.
    Years ago (early 2000's) I was dive mastering a trip in Cozumel, and a female couple ignored the depth limit, ignored my tank banging, ran out of air early, then ignored my reminder to ascend slowly and do their safety stop. Then on the boat, I enthusiastically recommended they pass on the 2nd dive, but they were adamant, and i felt like i was just shy of the point that I could put my foot down and insist.
    So I stretched the surface interval as long as I could with other paying customers on board to keep happy. I checked them repeatedly for any symptoms, and they looked and sounded fine. So we went to the shallowest 2nd dive location possible (Paradise reef), and I even personally guided them over the top of the reef, keeping them as shallow as possible while still being in proximity to the reef (around 30+ ft), plus we did a good 5 min safety stop, and even had them take turns breathing on my nitrox tank (probably minimal benefit by then, but surely couldn't hurt).
    Then later, most of the boat followed us to a favorite restaurant next to the dive shop on Salas, and while eating lunch........one of them passes out on the floor !!!!! (yeah, big fun, believe me :eek: :shakehead:).
    We did a vitals assessment, then my boss and I pretty much carried her to a taxi, and we all bolted to the chamber.
    The moral of the story: If you suspect you screwed the pooch on a dive profile/ascent, then don't get back in the water !!!!
    BlueTrin, eleniel and InTheDrink like this.
  10. Ken Kurtis

    Ken Kurtis Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Beverly Hills, CA
    I'm not being criticial of what happened, but the other moral of the story from the standpoint of your role as DM/Diving Professional:
    You have customers who clearly demonstrate they're accidents-waiting-to-happen on their first dive. You feel going in again is highly risky. You do your best to persuade them not to dive but (surprise, surprise) they won't listen. So - even when likely every fiber of your being is screaming "Don't let them back in the water!!!" - you let them back in the water and do your best to mitigate the outcome and it doesn't work.

    Why, as an industry, are we soooooo reluctant/scared to say, "You're not doing this dive." Yes, we're going to piss off some folks. But my thought is always, let them go injure themselves on someone else's watch. One thing I always told me DMs and instructors: It's always cheaper to refund a customer than it ever will be to pay off the estate.

    The other way to look at it is to do the things that will allow YOU to sleep better at night. Which would have produced more internal angst? Telling them they can't dive and suffering whatever consequences that would have created but knowing you did the right thing. Or letting them dive and then taking them to the chamber while a little voice in your head said, "I KNEW this would happen." Tough choices but I'm always in favor of erring on the side of caution. Because when you go, "What's the worst that could happen," it sometimes does.

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