When you take your Open Water Scuba Class, one of the things we talk about is Visual Inspection (VIP) on cylinders, the Cylinder Maintenance VIP. You learn this must be done annually and hydrostatic testing is done every 5 years. A lot of times when you are in that class, this doesn’t always make sense or you are learning so much new information you may not always remember this portion. That anticipation to get out into the water takes over! But, this is a very important piece of gear maintenance you should learn about. Let’s learn a little more in-depth about what happens when you bring your tank in for the yearly/5 year maintenance of your SCUBA tank.
So what happens we a VIP is done.
- Air is drained from the cylinder.
- Valve is removed.
- Outside of cylinders are inspected for any gouges or deep scrapes.
- Inside of the cylinder is checked for cleanliness and corrosion
- Visual current inspections are done on aluminum cylinders with an eddy current machine, checking for cracks in the neck of the valve. Steel cylinders are checked with a mirror visually.
- Valve tank 0-ring is replaced, the valve is lubed with proper lubricant, handle, and burst disc is tightened.
- Valve is replaced on the cylinder and tightened, inspection sticker is placed on cylinder showing VIP is good for 1 year. This is done by a trained and certified VIP tech.
NOTE: All Luxfer cylinders older than 1988 will be considered condemned.
This has to be done every five years as per a requirement of Department of Transportation on all SCUBA cylinders.
What is a hydrostatic test? It is a way in which cylinders are tested for strength and leaks. To do this cylinders are exposed to pressures exceeding their rating to insure it is still capable of maintaining the pressure necessary.
Hydrostatic testing is done by trained professional. The cylinders are filled with water, then pressurized to test pressure, and examined for leaks or permanent change in shape.
So, now that you know what happens when we VIP or hydrostatic test cylinders, be sure to check the dates on your tank. See if they are up-to-date on both Visual and Hydrostatic testing. You’d hate to get to a dive site only to find out your tank can’t be filled and you can’t dive. January is the perfect time to get these things done as there’s typically not a lot of diving in this area in January, unless you are brave enough to do the New Year’s Day Dive!!