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Don't take chances with a rental regulator or a loaner. Your dive regulator is your most vital piece of scuba equipment, as it supplies you with air underwater. Investing in your own scuba regulator and scuba equipment signals that you are a serious diver committed to the sport. Owning your own equipment allows you to maximize your enjoyment as well as your safety. Breathe easier. Buy your own regulator.
The real test for a regulator is how well it performs at 60 feet and deeper. The type of scuba regulator you buy will depend on how much you can afford to spend, how you plan to use the regulator, and how often you dive. Ask your fellow divers about their favorite regulator brands and then try them out for yourself.
Expect your regulator hoses to be durable and reliable. But they also need proper maintenance to ensure they reach their full service life.
Here is a checklist to make sure your hoses get the TLC they need:
If your warhorse of a regulator seems a bit sluggish, give it a bath. It could be the scuba regulator has a buildup of salt deposits from frequent use.
Just grab a bottle of vinegar from the kitchen cabinet and pour a cup or two in a tub of water. Soak the regulator in the diluted mixture for about 10 minutes. Then wash the regulator in warm, soapy water.
If the regulator still is not working well -- or if it leaks -- you may need to take it to your local dive shop or mail it in to the manufacturer for inspection, servicing and repair.
It is vital that your dive regulator functions properly. While a cracked seal on a mask is a discomfort, a malfunctioning regulator can be lethal.
Before buying a regulator, check the manufacturer's warranty. What level of repair does it provide? Can you get the regulator serviced? Where do you send the regulator for maintenance?
Make sure you use an authorized dealer for servicing and repair. Ask the technician or service center to take the regulator apart and check each component for corrosion and wear.
Make sure that the regulator is tuned to manufacturer's specifications and then tested for proper functioning.
Your dive regulator is a simple but ingenious device: When you inhale, you get fresh air from the tank. When you exhale the air goes out the through the regulator into the water. The trail of bubbles above a diver is the telltale sign that he or she is using scuba equipment.
Commercial and military divers sometimes use a more advanced system called a rebreather. It allows the diver to "rebreathe" his or her own air, and it produces no bubbles.
Rebreathers recover exhaled oxygen and send carbon dioxide into a cannister where it is absorbed by a harmless solid chemical. Depleted oxygen is replaced with oxygen or an oxygen mix from a small tank.
Rebreathers are efficient, compact and fascinating devices that one day may be used more widely by divers. Today, they are for highly specialized uses, such as covert Navy Seal operations. But they are not for recreational diving. They require specialized training to use. They also are hugely expensive, costing as much as $15,000.
Regulators are fitted to air cylinders and act to reduce pressure and supply air as the diver breathes. There are one- and two-stage regulators, with one-stage regulators used for shorter dives.
Single-stage regulators use one step to reduce the pressure in the cylinder to a usable level. Two-stage regulators have a two-step process. The dual-stage regulators are considered superior because they provide more precise pressure control.
Here is how the two-stage process works :
Your dive regulator needs to feel comfortable in your mouth. If your mouth and jaws are sore after a dive, the regulator might not be a good fit.
Breathing should feel pretty effortless -- unless you are a new diver and getting used to breathing underwater. Otherwise, if breathing is labored, the problem may be with your regulator.
When divers inhale through their scuba regulators, they are not breathing pure oxygen from scuba cylinders, as many people assume.
Scuba divers typically inhale compressed air -- which is 78 percent nitrogen and 21 percent oxygen.
In deep dives, the oxygen mix is higher to reduce the risk of decompression sickness and extend the dive time. Nitrox, which is usually referred to as Enriched Air (EAnx), is 64-68 percent nitrogen. It is effective in warding off decompression sickness up to 130 feet. Past that depth, a deep diving gas, such as Tri-Mix should be used.
Regulators control air pressure from cylinders to the diver. Gauges on the regulator let divers check and monitor the pressure. Here are features to look for in a scuba dive regulator:
Scuba divers cannot breathe air directly from the tanks they carry because the high pressure would damage their lungs. Scuba regulators solve the problem. Look for the high-performance GT3 Oceanic regulator. Oceanic regulators allow for effortless breathing at all depths and under all kinds of conditions.