Why Your Regulator Might Be Leaking
Something every diver dreads is getting wet and heading down only to have your buddy signal you that your regulator is leaking. As small as that little trickle of bubbles running to the surface, it still means an aborted dive for the safe and cautious, and anything more than the odd bubble should be treated with caution. Here are some common leaks and why that leak might be there:
Some Common Regulator leaks:
1.Second Stage Leaks
Mouthpiece leaks usually flow out of the exhaust, and this might be the kind of thing you can fix on the spot. One common cause of second stage exhaust leaks is having some form of grit stuck in the second stage valve seat, preventing it from sealing up. Try swishing the mouthpiece through the water while turning the purge on and off to dislodge the grit.
If that doesn’t work, the problem is the bit of grit too stuck to dislodge indirectly, or it might be corrosion of the valve seat. You can check for a seriously jammed piece of grit by removing the valve cover, but corrosion means taking the second stage into the shop.
Your second stage leak might also be a pressure problem between it and the first stage. If you have a venturi knob, dial that back and forth to see if it prompts an adjustment and stops the leak. If this works, it is only a short-term solution, and that knob will require constant adjustment through the dive. Take your regulator into the shop before you dive again.
2.First Stage Leaks
If your first stage is leaking, it is more than likely one of two things: either the yoke o-ring is damaged, or something inside is maladjusted or corroded. The former problem can be fixed on the dive boat if a spare o-ring is available, and is the sort of thing you can do yourself at home if you are a handy person. The latter means taking your reg into the shop.
3.Pressure Gauge Leaks
Another potential leak source is your pressure gauge. If the joint between your hose and your gauge is leaking, it could be either a damaged spool or o-ring. Either is an easy fix, but it means getting out of the water and taking it to someone familiar with these parts. You might be able to get the divemaster to do it on the boat, but otherwise, your reg goes to the shop.
The good news about a hose leak is that if you are remotely handy, you can replace the hose yourself at home. The bad news is that it isn’t much you can do about it in the field.
If your hose is leaking near the nozzle, as opposed to along its length, that might be the o-ring. Here the news is all good, because anyone who has owned their dive gear for at least a year or two ought to be familiar with replacing o-rings, and most dive boats and shops have spares handy. Fixing this between dives ought to be easy.
The o-ring might simply be loose, and that is something you can fix on the dive boat without the need for spare parts. A damaged o-ring must be replaced.
If this happens to you on the dive boat or in the water, it can only be because you screwed up. If you are in the water, you screwed up royally.
If the tank’s o-ring is leaking, you will know about it as soon as you open the tank valve, as the leak is like standing next to a small jet engine. Ergo, if you are checking your gear properly, you should know about this problem before you get on the boat. That makes fixing it as easy as pie.