Scuba Tanks Tips

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Thank Jacques Cousteau for Scuba Diving

Save on quality dive gear by shopping with a discount retailer. Discount dive shops purchase large volumes of inventory for less and pass the savings along to customers. Even if there is a traditional dive shop nearby, be sure to check for deals online as well. You might find a cheaper price and maybe even free shipping.

   

Don't Leave Scuba Tanks in Hot Vehicles

Scuba tanks or diving cylinders carry high-pressure breathing gas for scuba diving. They hold about 80 cubic feet of air. Take care when handling and using dive tanks. Complete your dive gear package with a compact spare air system. These mini scuba sets are easier to use than an octopus.

   

The Popular Choice is Aluminum for Scuba Tanks

Both aluminum and steel scuba tanks are heavy! Tank carriers help move your scuba tanks from your vehicle to the dive boat. These heavy-duty carriers have strong grips and make carrying tanks filled with compressed air easier and safer.

   
How did scuba diving get started?

Thank Jacques Cousteau for Scuba Diving

Scuba stands for self-contained breathing apparatus. It is the method for breathing underwater with a dive tank full of air. Modern divers can thank oceanographer Jacques Yves Cousteau for inventing the aqualung in 1943.

He is the grandfather of scuba diving and is responsible for bringing the wonders of the ocean and diving into the living rooms of Americans in the 1960s with his TV show, "The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau."

Many advances have been made in scuba diving in the decades since. While scuba diving used to appeal to young men with a strong sense of adventure, today it attracts a diverse following -- men and women of all ages; teenagers; and entire families. PADI, the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, reports that 1 million new scuba divers are certified every year.

   
Will I need to buy scuba tanks to take a diving class?

Dive Instructors Will Provide Scuba Tanks for Class

If you are taking a dive class, expect your instructors to bring the scuba air tanks. They are hard to transport and among the more expensive pieces of equipment, costing between $100 and $200 each.

After you earn your C-card, you will want to invest in diving gear beyond the mask, snorkel and flippers. A good place to start is the buoyancy compensator and regulator, vital pieces of equipment that will function better if you own and maintain them yourself.

Once you become a regular diver, you may want to skip the hassle of renting used scuba tanks at diving shops and get your own. In the meantime, make sure the dive company you rent from keeps and maintains accurate records of its equipment.

   
Are scuba tanks safe to handle?

Don't Leave Scuba Tanks in Hot Vehicles

Here is a checklist of tips for caring for your scuba tank that seem obvious, but could have disastrous results if ignored:

  • Never leave a filled tank in a hot car. Air expands when heated.
  • Check out a shop's intake pipe for supplying compressed air. If it is located in an area where there may be air pollution -- say near car exhaust -- go someplace else to fill your tanks.
  • Ask if the dive shop has their air analyzed and ask to see their last test results
  • Stop diving while you still have air in the tank.

   
What features should I consider in a new dive tank?

Consider a Dive Tank's Size and Volume

Dive tanks often are the last piece of equipment that dive instructors and dive shops recommend for purchase. They are costly to buy but easy and cheap to rent.

Divers who go out more than twice a month generally invest in their own tanks. But all tanks are not the same. Consider the tank's size, volume, material, valve and weight characteristics.

Standard aluminum 80s have a working pressure of 3000 psi, pounds per square inch. A capacity of 80 cubic square feet should be enough for most sport diving. If you want more air for longer or deeper dives, you will have to go with larger or twin tanks.

   
Does it matter whether I purchase a painted or unpainted dive tank?

Paint on Aluminum Dive Tanks May Not Last

When purchasing an aluminum scuba tank, be aware that the pretty paint on it might not last. Some theories hold that paint may encourage corrosion of your tanks.

Yellow is a popular choice for tanks, but it seems to chip and flake with repeated dips in saltwater. Some divers don't mind the chipped paint. It is like a badge of the rugged outdoor experience of diving..

In the long run, divers may be better off with brushed aluminum coatings, which are "shot blast" or textured to a dull gray color. No paint is used.

   
How can I ensure that my dive tanks are filled to capacity?

Make Sure Dive Tanks are Filled Properly

Filling a scuba tank completely is not that simple, and divers should make sure they give ample time to the staff at a dive shop to do the job right. It's not a bad idea to drop off your scuba air tanks the day before a dive and pick them up in the morning as you head out.

Here are some other tips for making sure you do not get short air fills:

  • The tank should be filled to its maximum level -- but not overfilled. An overfill risks damage to the cylinder.
  • Tanks need to be filled slowly and then allowed to cool. The tanks then can be topped off to reach maximum capacity.
  • Do not put a tank in cold water to make it cool faster. You run the risk of water entering the cylinder.
  • Remember the maximum fill rate is 300 psi per minute.

   
Should I choose an aluminum or steel tank?

The Popular Choice is Aluminum for Scuba Tanks

Aluminum or steel? Most recreational divers use the cheaper aluminum scuba tank. These are the tanks that dive shops sell and rent to recreational divers. They are easy to maintain, though they may dent more easily than steel.

Steel scuba tanks are more expensive and more rugged. Steel tanks can last for many years -- some say as long as the life of the diver. But steel tanks eventually rust and require a lot of care. Steel tanks, which are negatively buoyant, are most often worn by technical divers.

   
What should the air capacity be for my scuba tank?

Tank Capacities Depend on the Diver's Needs

Divers want a scuba tank that is lightweight but has the capacity they need for air. Check out this list of tank capacities and how they fit divers' needs:

  • For shallow diving, all you need is a 50 to 63 cubic foot tank.
  • The 80 cubic foot tank is considered standard and can be used for deeper dives.
  • People who are heavy breathers -- often large men -- may need more air capacity. There are 100 cubic foot tanks that should serve them.
  • Finally, pony tanks are backup spare air tanks that are smaller in size and used in emergencies when primary air fails.

   
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Jerry Mayo