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SCUBAPRO Sunday – Drysuits

A drysuit is a significant investment and requires periodic servicing, but a well maintained, quality suit can last for years. Here are some tips to keep your drysuit at its best.

Cleaning Your Drysuit

Wash your drysuit after every use to remove skin oils and chemicals (like sunblock and insect repellent) from the gaskets. Clean inside with clean, fresh water, or SCUBAPRO disinfectant solution (P/N 41 050 034) to prevent bacterial development.

It is especially important to wash the suit after using it in salt water, as salt residues will degrade the latex.

To maximize the life of the gaskets, drysuits must be protected from sunlight and ozone. Never wash a drysuit in a washing machine or dry it in a clothes dryer. Any of these can severely damage the zippers and/or gaskets. If the suit is exposed to oil or grease, clean with a mild grease-cutting detergent and a soft brush. Rinse with clean, fresh water.

The inside and outside of a drysuit must be washed in separate steps. Wash the outside first, then turn it inside-out and wash the inside. Open all zippers and use a soft brush to remove any grit from the teeth.

Hang the Dry suit inside-out on a SCUBAPRO dry suit hanger (P/N 51 076 000) to dry indoors. Do not use a wire hanger, and don’t hang it outside where it will be exposed to sunlight. When the inside is completely dry, turn it right-side-out and allow the outside to air dry. Treat the latex gaskets with unscented talcum powder. Dust wrist and neck seals with talcum powder before pulling them over your hands and head. Talcum powder eliminates virtually all resistance between skin and seals, allowing them to slip on without stressing the rubber.

Apply zipper wax before zipping up the waterproof zipper. Use only the manufacturer’s wax that’s specifically formulated for your drysuit zipper. Apply the wax only on the outside of the teeth so as not to interfere with the zipper’s inner sealing surfaces.

If it’s a fabric suit, wipe down the outside with a microfiber towel and install the protective cap on the inlet valve to avoid corrosion building up inside the valve, which can cause a stuck inflator button. If it’s a neoprene suit, pat it down lightly, cap the valve, unzip and climb out.

Rinse off the inside. This is easier for drysuits with soft socks that can be turned inside out. Suits with attached boots can be difficult, but get them turned inside out as much as you can. Keep in mind that the insides of the boots are going to take longer to dry. You can add newspaper in there to help dry it. Make sure they are completely dry before putting the suit into storage.

Storing Your Drysuit

Store drysuits in a cool, dark place. Most clothes closets are fine but avoid attics and garages, any place that gets really hot.

Treat the gaskets with unscented talcum powder.

Hang the drysuit on a wide suit hanger. Because of their length, make sure the legs are off the floor, you can drape them over the shoulders of the suit if needed.

Zipper Care

Keep the zippers clean. Dirt and grit will make them difficult to operate and can even degrade their water tightness. When cleaning the suit, use a brush to remove dirt and grit from the zippers.

If metal zippers are stiff, rub them with beeswax or a block of paraffin wax. Do not wax plastic zippers.

Folding or over-bending can create a kink that will ruin the zipper. See the above video for tips on storing and packing your drysuit for travel, to learn how to avoid this type of damage.

Professional, commercial, rescue and military divers who may be forced to dive in contaminated conditions must identify the contaminant and take appropriate steps to remove the contaminant from the suit before it can be used again.

Storage & Transport

Dry suits are best stored on the SCUBAPRO dry suit hanger (P/N 51 076 000) that hangs the suit upside down by the feet with the zipper open. Keep in a cool dry place out of the sun. Keep copper away from the latex seals.

For longer-term storage, (make sure it is dry first) you can store it in a large Zip-Loc clothing storage bags and hang in your locker or closet

For travel, fold the suit loosely, avoiding over-bending or kinking the zippers, you can use round foam pool noodles to help with this. Then you can store it in a plastic box.

Bag

Each SCUBAPRO dry suit is supplied in a carrying bag. The flat design with perimeter zipper allows the bag to fold open for use as a dressing mat to keep your feet clean while getting in and out of the suit. Inside the bag is permanently attached pouches where the repair kit, zipper lubricant, and seal talc are conveniently stored.

Troubleshooting

Divers exposed to chemicals or contaminated water must take extra care cleansing & rinsing the suit after each exposure. Some chemicals can degrade or delaminate the suit materials to the point of failure

Leaks

Zipper

• Slider not closed all the way. Have your buddy check for full closure.

• Zip has failed – inspect for split in closed teeth.

• Zipper material failed – can either be punctured or damaged by abrasion.

• Foreign material caught in teeth – dirt, sand, debris, or the dry suit undergarment is frequently the trouble.

• The zipper is old, worn out, or damaged in some other way – have it replaced.

Valves

• Installation has loosened. Check back plate screw for tightness. Neoprene suits can see this, as the neoprene may continue to compress over time. Tighten if needed.

• The exhaust valve may be improperly adjusted, or there may be debris (sand, hair, etc.) under the seal.

• Valve parts may need servicing or replacement due to use and wear.

Seals

Seals leak for two reasons, damage or interference..

• Check the seals for holes or tears caused by sharp objects, wear & tear, or chemical damage.

• Check that there are no foreign objects such as hair, sections of undergarment.

• Check for over trimming. Make sure when you trim your seals you do it by putting a can or something round in the wrists or neck and trim around it. If you pinch the seals and cut them it will leave little “v” where you started and ended your cut and that will tear at some point.

• Check they adjusted properly and do not have folds that can create leaking channels, especially around the tendons in wrists.

Leak Testing Your Suit

Your dry suit can be tested for leaks by plugging the wrist and neck seals with objects of suitable size, closing the zipper and using the low-pressure inflation hose attached to the inflate valve to inflate the suit. Wrap an elastic band around the seal to help the plug stay in place under pressure. Start with the adjustable exhaust valve set at the lowest release pressure, and gradually increase until the suit is firm, but not hard. This way you will not stress the seals, fabric or seams of the suit. Once the suit is inflated, submerge it a section at a time in the bathtub, and inspect for leaks. Small bubbles will appear if a leak is present. Alternately, lay the inflated suit down outside, and slowly pour warm soapy water over the suspected areas. The soap solution will blow small bubbles, or create fine foam over the leak.

Once the leaks are located, mark the area, rinse and dry the suit thoroughly, and follow the repair kit instructions.

A dry suit is a complex piece of equipment designed to keep a diver comfortable in extreme conditions. Treat your drysuit as a piece of life support equipment, maintain it properly, and inspect it for wear and damage before and after each dive.

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