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Tank Maintenance

Discussion in 'Basic Scuba Discussions' started by Mel Moncrieff, Sep 20, 2011.

  1. Mel Moncrieff

    Mel Moncrieff Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Southern California
    My wife and I signed up for a local trip diving California's Channel Islands with Bluewater Photo (a great trip!) Three days before the trip we realized that our steel tanks were 1 month out of date. These tanks were purchased new 2 and 4 years ago respectively, and have been kept well maintained and inspected yearly. We went to a local dive shop and explained our situation. The total cost for our tanks ended up being $257.00. This seemed very excessive! According to the shop, both tanks needed to be tumbled, and they added a $45.00 charge to each tank to have the valves serviced--something they said was required when tanks needed tumbling. One tank also needed to be hydro'd. Does this seem reasonable and necessary? We feel as though, once we explained our situation, the shop took advantage of us. ​
  2. Doc Harry

    Doc Harry Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Appalachia
    Rough numbers off the top of my head...

    Hydro = $50 to $80 each
    Visual = $15 to $25 x 2 = $30 to $50
    Tumble = $20 to $25 x 2 = $40 to $50
    Valve cleaning = $20 to $25 x 2 = $40 to $50

    Total = $160 to $230

    I wasn't there, so I cannot state definitely what service your cylinders required.

    There is also a great deal of variability from shop to shop in terms of their own requirements for fills. We are lacking pertinent information. Are you getting plain air fills or Nitrox fills?

    If you are getting Nitrox, and they are doing partial pressure blending, then you can add another $50 per cylinder for oxygen cleaning. That would bring your total to $210 to $280.

    Perhaps you misunderstood the shop - you don't need to have the valves serviced if you tumble the tanks. But if they found rust in the valves from the rust in the tanks, then yes, you need the valves serviced. If they are doing partial-pressure blending then your valves need to be oxygen cleaned, too. In general, I remove and clean my valves every year with the visual inspection. It's not a bad idea to have your valves cleaned annually.

    We are also missing information about your valve service. Did they just replace o-rings or did they also clean your valves for oxygen-compatibility?

    If you still have questions, direct them to the shop that did your work. Ask them to help you understand what they did, and why.
    g1138 likes this.
  3. g1138

    g1138 Marine Scientist

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Charleston, SC
    Doc Harry
    's explanation covers more variables that I didn't think of at first.
    If you O2 cleaned your tanks and if rust were found in your valves then that changes a few things.
    I would ask the shop to clarify their reasoning behind the services they did to your tanks before you cry foul.


    Tank valved do not need to be serviced when you tumble your tanks. You also do not need to rehydro tanks after they have been tumbled. Both are common misconceptions.

    Tanks do need to be visually inspected every year and hydroed every 5 years.
    Anytime the condition of a tank changes drastically, such as visible pitting or dents then rehydro and inspections are recommended if not going straight to the recycle bin.
    Of course shops can refuse to fill your tanks unless you conform to their requests.....

    As for if the shops too advantage of you:
    If your tanks had visible rust on the inside then a tumble could be warranted. The valves however do not require a reservice because of the tumble.
    As a comparison the local hydro and service shop in my area (Monterey, CA) has the following prices:
    *These will be lower than an LDS since they don't need to ship tanks to another hydro shop*
    Tank tumble - $20
    Valve Rebuild - $10 plus cost of parts
    Tank Visual Inspection - $20
    Hydro - $45
    So for the same service you're talking $135 +valve parts. Even with shop markup I think the LDS charged you excessively.
  4. Doc Harry

    Doc Harry Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Appalachia
    g1138 has a good point - if the shop has to send out your tanks for servicing then the costs will be higher than at a shop that can do their own work on-site.

    I don't think we have enough information to judge whether or not the charges were appropriate.
  5. Bubbletrubble

    Bubbletrubble Regular of the Pub

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Seussville
    Since you needed several different types of tank-related services, I would have recommended taking the tanks to a business that does the tumbling and hydrotesting on-site. Here in San Diego, CA, at an industrial/welding supply place that does such work (Stoody), a tumbling costs about $20/tank and a hydrotest costs about $16/tank. If your local dive shop can do the VIP ($8-$15/tank) and tank valve servicing in-house, then it would probably be most convenient to do it there. You would have saved a lot of money doing it this way, but it may have taken a little longer to get it all done before your trip.
  6. Garrobo

    Garrobo Great White

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Ohio
    Personally I think you got shafted big time.
    molina67 and tr3a like this.
  7. awap

    awap Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Central TX
    You will never know.

    Assuming the tanks did need the tumble and the one tank was out of (or close) hydro, the only question I would have is the valve service and even that might be reasonable depending on what the inspector found.

    I always pull the valves and do my own inspection before I take a tank in for a VIS and leave instructions to call before any additional services are performed.
  8. lsorenson

    lsorenson Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: North Carolina
    New tanks often sit up to a year or more waiting to be sold and sometimes at a discount... I know I bought mine a bit cheaper since they were a year old...

    Now I don't know if the shop stuck it to you or not but... In your conversation with the dive shop

    did you say, "we have a dive this weekend and got to get these tanks in spec regardless the price" or was it more like "we need these tanks ready so I need a quote" or something to this effect...?

    Cause to me, how things are said make a big difference... as in, I take my car down to the local dealer cause I hear a noise in the engine... I tell them that I am heading out on vacation and I them to make sure the car will make the trip and do what they need to do to get it ready... I show up the next day and they hand me a 2500.00 bill cause they needed to replace a piston...

    Now I would have preferred a courtesy call regarding the piston but I asked them to "get it ready" so maybe its my fault...
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2011
  9. tr3a

    tr3a Solo Diver

    # of Dives:
    All the more reason to bypass the LDS and go straight to a non-diving hydro facility (fire extinguishers, ect). Tests and inspections are the same.

  10. Mel Moncrieff

    Mel Moncrieff Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Southern California
    These tanks were only being prepared for air, not EAN.

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