Many divers who want to get into scuba diving buy their own gear, which is a great idea because renting gear is expensive. If you dive regularly it definitely pays off to get your own outfit, however many hobby divers want to score a bargain and shop around at garage sales, or online on E-bay and Gumtree to get regulators, scuba tanks, dive computers and BCDs. Without fully realising the risk of this…
While it is fine to buy a wetsuit, mask or booties online, many people don’t know that they are potentially putting their lives in danger by buying second ‘pre-loved’ technical gear. Especially when so-called hobby divers are not fully trained by a recognised scuba diving learning centre like PADI or SSI they tend to think that it doesn’t matter if the products shows signs of wear and tear because they’re only diving a few times a year.
The problem is that you don’t know what you get. Has the previous owner kept up the maintenance properly and rinsed and cleaned it and has the item been serviced regularly?
Some facts to consider:
- Salt, heat, and boat fumes can all damage metal and hard plastic Scuba gear, causing oxidation and decay. Unfortunately this isn’t always clear from looking at it from the outside.
- When water enters the first stage of a regulator, if someone has forgotten to protect it with the dust cap when cleaning it after a dive, it can start to rust. If regulators are not serviced every 12 months they are potentially faulty and this in breach with Australian guidelines for Scuba gear maintenance.
- Wear and tear on a BCD can be dangerous if the bladder starts to leak when you are out in open water. Always store BCDs emptied of residue water and partially inflated.
- Air tanks need to be stored in a dry place to ensure the integrity of the tank walls: water should not be allowed to accumulate on the outer tank. When not dried properly and stored without any air in it, water can enter the cylinder. In Australia, a tank needs to be hydrostatically tested every 12 months (this differs per country). Don’t buy a tank that hasn’t got a certificate stamp of servicing and check for dents and corrosion.
- Dive computers are very sensitive to water, salt and sand. If you buy a second hand computer you don’t know its battery life. And if it doesn’t come with a manual, don’t buy it, as you will need to be informed about all safety settings.
All this considered you’ll understand why buying second hand is risky. And we haven’t even talked about hygiene yet: would you really like to suck on a regulator that has been in someone else’s mouth? Or wear a BCD or mask that has built-up mould on it?
Not all second-hand gear is bad. Scuba gear can last a lifetime when properly maintained, but a lot of people don’t bother. Rinsing all your dive gear with fresh water after every dive is a good start, but pressure testing and professional technical maintenance is recommended too. Also follow any manufacturer’s recommendations; each item has its own maintenance requirements.
Score a bargain, but buy it new! As scuba gear gets cheaper thanks to improved technology and cheaper labour in foreign markets, there is hardly a reason to buy second hand gear at all. Better still: in a shop you can ask for advice from experts, try it on to make sure it fits properly, and there usually is a warranty included. Something you don’t get with second hand gear or buying scuba gear online from overseas (and beware of import taxes if you do!).
So don’t shy away from a bargain, but keep in mind that if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Unless of course the seller is an established diving supplier and can explain the bargain prices by bulk imports or dealerships privileges, like we at Adreno Scuba Diving Centre can :)
If you are looking for a bargain, remember to regularly check the Clearance section of our website for heaps of great specials from a company you can trust.