Covered By Warranty

by

Larry "Harris" Taylor, Ph.D.

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One summer, one of my  beloved Tekna 2100 BX regulators  seemed not to be functioning properly, so on Monday I took it to the dive shop to be examined. The regulator, as promised, was ready for me the following Friday.

On Saturday, I took it to the St. Clair river to play. 

On this particular dive, we entered the water and followed a line out to a wreck, the Colburn, lying in about 40 feet of water. The current here is far too strong to swim against, so sight-seeing on the wreck, particularly in the then well-preserved boiler region, was a matter of holding a tight grip on either the wreck or safety lines that were maintained by a local dive club. One exciting part of this dive was to drift downstream from the wreck to an old-fashioned steam crane lying on its side. To assist the diver in this extreme current, a line suspended in mid-water was maintained between the Colburn and the crane.

As I began the drift towards the crane, my regulator starting throwing water at me. This was most distressing 'cause I needed both hands: one on the line and one held out to brace against the impending impact with the the crane (I was afraid that if I let go of the line, the current would force me into the crane and being impaled on steel rods was not my idea of a fun dive!) By the time I reached the crane, I felt like I was attempting to breathe through a fire hose. Once I was secure on the crane and had my legs wrapped around a piece of steel, I spit out the regulator and replaced it with my octopus.. The loss of primary life support was cause for terminating the dive. Because it is generally unsafe to make a direct ascent to the surface in the St; Clair river (i.e. boat traffic) my buddy and I drifted to the underwater edge of the shoreline, surfaced and then drifted to the designated exit point near the Port Huron YMCA.

After the dive, we noticed that the second stage of the Tekna (marked hand tighten only) had been torqued too tight to open.  It turned out the regulator has been tightened so much that the interior plastic cap had a large crack about 90% of the total circumference.  There was no way to know how big the crack was at the start of the dive (perhaps enlarged from stress of breathing at depth), but the technician who examined it felt that the regulator had clearly been over-tightened and this, most likely, was the proximate cause of the influx of water I had experienced.

I took the regulator back to the dive shop that had done the tune-up. Since this was the third time (three strikes and your are out!) this particular shop had placed me in what I considered to be a potential life-threat situation, I was most unhappy. When I explained the situation to the owner (I believe to this day, that a diver without an octopus or a lot of experience in extreme currents would not have faired too well in this situation.), all he had to say to me was. "I do NOT understand why you are upset. The parts are covered by your warranty."

I was absolutely dumbfounded!  At that moment, I realized I was speaking safety and he was listening in "financialese."  Shortly after my regulator parts were replaced, I left that particular dive shop, never to return.

The point is:  

Every time a regulator is serviced, it should be tested in safe, confined water before it is used for travel or extreme situations.

Over the years, I have had regulators returned from service with inappropriate or missing  interior parts, exhaust valves reversed or absent, and once, tuned so poorly that it was nearly impossible for anyone less than a gorilla to breathe. Then, of course, there was the time that five regulators (including my most beloved Tekna's) were "lost" and never returned (but that, as they say, is another story!)

In fairness, I should add that  I have been diving since 1977 and have always had multiple regulator systems (specific for the  type of diving done). MOST of the time, there has not been a problem with the maintenance of my regulators.

Regulators are your primary means of staying alive when immersed in Planet Ocean. So, buy the top-of-the-line ('cause you DESERVE IT) in whatever product line fits your needs, service it annually, and test it before use.

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About The Author: 

Larry "Harris" Taylor, Ph.D. is a biochemist and Diving Safety Coordinator at the University of Michigan. He has authored more than 100 scuba related articles. His personal dive library (See Alert Diver, Mar/Apr, 1997, p. 54) is considered one of the best recreational sources of information In North America.

  Copyright 2001-2005 by Larry "Harris" Taylor

All rights reserved.

Use of these articles for personal or organizational profit is specifically denied.

These articles may be used for not-for-profit diving education