B&H Photo - Housing Care and Maintenance Guide

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Housing Care and Maintenance Guide

Courtesy of Gates Underwater Products


First Time Use
Preparing to Dive
During the Dive
After the Dive
Storing a Housing

The following guideline will help you understand how to take care of your underwater housing. So you're equipment stays protected while diving and will last a lifetime.

Even tough your housing is very durable, designed to withstand the rigors of diving operations and the harsh salt-water environment. The housings routinely remain in service after abusive handling, excessive depths and virtually zero attention to maintenance. This, however, is not a course of action recommended by the manufacture.

Instead, you must make certain efforts to care and maintain your investment. Some easy, common sense steps are outlined here guide you to appropriate care. Regular attention will assure continued proper operation of your housing.

First Time Use

Every housing is pressure tested before leaving the factory to assure a watertight seal. However, it's recommends your first use of the housing be done without a camera or camcorder inside. Shipping, handling or air travel could cause shifting or unnoticed damage after leaving the factory, so taking this extra measure is an easy way to verify the seal and ensure your expensive electronics are safe. In addition, you can get a good feel for the use of an underwater housing without worrying about getting a good shot. You can simply concentrate on the technique of holding a camera in position while fine tuning your buoyancy.

Follow all the directions as described below to prepare, execute and finish a dive. Then, completely dry the outside of the housing; open it up, and then look for any leakage. Water that has seeped in is usually quite visible. Also feel the inside for any moisture by running you finger across interior surfaces near the viewports, windows and housing mating halves.

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Preparing to Dive

Each time you prepare to enter the water with your housing there are several important checks to make.

  • Install the camcorder/camera inside the housing per the instructions you received with the housing. Make sure it is secured firmly to the housing and will not move around during use.

  • Check all the o-rings. Follow the guide called "O-Ring Care and Maintenance".

  • Move all the controls. They should rotate freely without binding or roughness.

  • Close the housing. See that the halves are mated and aligned properly. Close the safety latches into their locked position.

  • Give the housing one last look for anything unusual. This could be a pinched o-ring, unseen damage from impact or drop, etc.

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During the Dive

When you enter the water and during the dive, some important tips to remember:

  • Do NOT jump into the water with housing in hand. Your housing is very durable and watertight, however a sharp impact with water and sudden increase in water pressure can cause an o-ring leak.

  • Contrary to popular belief, a leaking housing will NOT spew a stream of bubbles to flag a leak. Water will be forced inside, but air will not escape. As a habit, look inside the housing from any viewport as you carefully submerge the housing. A good way to do this is hold the camera lens down as you look inside. If there is any water whatsoever, it will pool at the lens, telling you to exit the water post haste.

  • Naturally, take care to avoid severe impacts to rocks, coral or anything solid. Your housing is designed to withstand bumps are jars, but abusive handling could compromise the integrity of the seals.

  • Make it a habit to occasionally look inside the housing. Should you encounter a heavy impact or other extreme conditions, take a look inside for leaks. It is highly recommended you exit the water and thoroughly inspect your equipment after such an event.

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After the Dive

As you may know, salt water is highly corrosive when left in contact with metal. It can quickly turn iron into rust, and aluminum into aluminum oxide. Even though your housing comes coated for protection against salt water, even the best protection can be compromised when left exposed to salt water for extended periods of time, and indeed a deep scratch or dent can expose aluminum susceptible to salt water corrosion. This is bad.

Once again, some easy steps can prevent any problems due to corrosion.

  • When you are finished, diving, completely submerge your housing immediately into fresh water. If you cannot do so directly, then as soon as possible after the dive. Soak your housing in fresh water for as long as possible, at least several hours prior to cleaning and storing. This will wash away salt water from all the tiny crevices it went during the dive.

  • If you submerge your housing into a dip tank, take care that other cameras and equipment do not adversely contact the housing, particularly the controls or ports. If you wish, place the protective cover over the port after you submerge it.

  • If you do not plan to open the housing between dives (say, while on a live-aboard boat), then there is no need to remove the housing from the fresh water prior to you next dive.

  • If you open the housing to change batteries, tapes, film, etc. between dives, thoroughly dry the housing before opening. Use compressed air whenever possible to blow away water from around the mating halves and avoid any drips inside when the housing is opened. Do the same around the port if you intend to remove or change it.

  • When you are ready to close the housing again for another dive, start with "Preparing to Dive" guidelines above.

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Storing a Housing

When the dives are over and it's time to store your Gates housing, there are several significant actions to take.

  • After removing the camera and camcorder, soak your housing in fresh water again for at least several hours. It's safe and OK to leave it submerged for several days to draw out salt water from the small crevices it finds when you are diving.

  • Dry the housing completely with a towel. Remove ports, handles, and accessible o-rings.
    Then use compressed air to blow out water around seals, mating parts, ports, etc. Remove every visible trace of water. Do the same with the accessories and other parts you used underwater or were exposed to salt water, or even salt air during your diving adventures.

  • DO NOT store your housing in the travel case. Water that may have absorbed into the foam will return to attack the housing with no way to dry or escape. Rather, put your housing on a shelf, preferably in a cool, dry place where it is exposed to the air. Leave your travel case cracked open to allow air circulation. Never leave your housing in a damp location.

  • Lastly, be sure to leave the housing open when stored to allow air to circulate inside as well. Do the same with any battery cases, video monitor cases, etc.

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