how to repair a wetsuit

Tips and techniques to keep a wet suit in good shape for more than one season.

Teaching SCUBA diving for over 15 years I have had the pleasure of helping a few hundred people learn to dive and have lead countless others on dive excursions. However of all these people less than 10% have been able to properly put on a wet suit. Commonly, I have found many people One of the first purchases most divers make is a wet suit. Yet so many never really learn to put on properly, nor how to take care of the suit so that it lasts for more than one or two dive seasons. I have suits that are still good after 5 years and lots of hours under water.

With the faster pace of today's dive programs and the fact that many stores or rental shops have sales persons helping you select your equipment there are few who really know have to properly put on a suit. The maintenance  of wet suits is not taught in any basic SCUBA class, this has become a "Speciality Course" within the industry.

KEYS THINGS TO REMEMBER WHEN DONNING YOUR SUIT.

1. Always row the ankle and wrist cuffs back over themselves prior to putting the suit on.

2. "Shotgun" or double your pant leg down to the knee and then slip your foot into the suit, rolling the pant leg up your leg. Avoid pulling on the suit to make it slide up the leg.

3. Never pull on the quick zipper string without holding the zipper tag a the bottom of the zipper. Always pull over your shoulder up past your nose.

4. Adjust your suit a little at a time. And if the suit does not feel right change it.

Wetsuit Cleaning

Salt water and especially chlorine can "dry out" the neoprene material. When neoprene material "dries out" it looses it's flexibility. To ensure the wetsuit material retains it's flexibility for a extended period of time, it is important to thoroughly soak and rinse the wetsuit. Soak the wetsuit in a tub of warm fresh water (not over 120°F) for at least 15-20 minutes. After soaking, thoroughly hose off the wetsuit with fresh water.

Place the suit on a thick hanger with all the zippers open to ensure maximum air circulation and complete drying.

Small Wetsuit Repairs

To repair small tears - try to make it a habit that after your dive to clean and inspect all equipment used, and make any repairs as soon as the equipment is clean and dry.

If you locate a small tear caused by your finger nails or perhaps a rock during entry or exit mark with a peice of chalk

1) Start with some neoprene glue and 3 basic household items.

a) Aqua Seal black Seal Cement 60 ml (2 fl. oz) tube (available at your Nineteen retailer or local dive shop)
b) cotton swab
c) scissors
d) household cellophane tape

2) Clean and prep the surface in and around the fingernail cut.

Make sure the area in and around the fingernail cut is dry and clean. If dirty, use a warm damp rag to clean the surrounding area. Make sure that area is completely dry before commencing the next step.

3) Applying wetsuit glue to the fingernail cut.

For best results, apply the wetsuit cement to the fingernail cut with an applicator. by cutting off one end of a cotton swab with the scissors, you've just made the perfect glue applicator.

Lightly pinch the neoprene together as pictured to open up the fingernail cut. Using the cotton swab, apply a small quantity of glue to the inside and outside edges of the cut. when you release the neoprene, some glue should ooze out. The secret to a good repair is to have a thin film of glue on the outside surface of the cut as well as inside.

4) Making sure the cut remains together until the glue dries

Now that the glue has been applied, you have to make sure the cut does not open up. this is done by applying a small piece of cellophane tape perpendicularly across the cut. this will hold the two sides together until the glue dries.

Ideally you want to allow the glue to dry over night, but a few hours will do. Once the glue is dry to the touch, gently peel the tape away. Due to the surface treatment of the wetsuit neoprene, the tape will come off easily and at the same time remove any excess glue on the surface.

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