Learn Proper Dry Suit Care
You know that your dry suit has to be in good condition for it to provide the protection you need in the water. If there is a tear or a faulty seal, your suit is useless. We also teach you the importance of caring for your zippers as part of recommended dry suit maintenance.
New Latex Seals
New latex seals will feel tight or restrictive at first but will relax with use. Do not cut the seal; it is possible to pre-stretch your latex seal.
By following the recommended procedure below for pre-stretching latex seals, it will reduce cutting and will lengthen the life of the seals. To pre-stretch new latex seals, use a good food-grade silicone. Make sure the silicone does not contain petroleum distillates or fluorocarbon propellants. McNett Seal Saver is recommended.
Apply liberally to both sides of the latex; try not to get any silicone on the suit as it affects future repairs. Stretch the seal over an object large enough for a good stretch; a 1-liter soda bottle works well for cuffs, and an 80 cubic
foot tank works well for stretching the neck. You will have to silicone a couple of times; the silicone will soak into the virgin latex over a short time. This process will take approximately one week.
Used Latex Seals
Wash the latex seals with a mild solution of Dawn dishwashing detergent and water and rinse well. This removes all old contaminants, body oils, makeup, aftershave, perfumes, pollutants, etc. Dry the seal thoroughly overnight. Next, follow directions for new seals, omitting the stretching part. Sealing an old seal without cleaning will only trap contaminants and increase the seal deterioration.
The life of natural rubber latex seals will be greatly extended by minimizing contact with petrochemicals, ozone, electric motors, heat, and ultraviolet and fluorescent lights. Frequency of cleaning and maintenance will greatly extend the life of the seals. Silicone application more than twice a year is not recommended because over-application will have an adverse effect on the seal.
Always used talcum powder on the seals prior to donning; this makes it much easier to put on. Additionally, keep your seals powdered at all times; this will also extend the life of the seal by keeping them moisture free.
Do not use baby powder because it has petroleum products in it.
Maintenance for Dry Suit Zippers
Functionally, the seal is accomplished by the outer and inner sealing lip areas being held tightly in compression by the engaged metal locking elements. All zippers are pressure-tested at the factory prior to shipment.
It should be noted that storing or leaving a zipper in a closed position for long periods of time is not recommended. The closed sealing area will take a set and the zipper will then leak. Manufacturers recommend leaving the zipper open for storage. Although relief zippers are often forgotten, they also need to be left open at the end of the day.
The locking elements should mesh easily and freely in operation. Occasional cleaning and lubrication of the outer elements is recommended. This is especially important if the zipper is being used in a dirty or corrosive environment.
Wax the zipper every 2 to 3 times of use with beeswax because it is pure and petroleum-free. However, do not allow the wax to accumulate on the zipper because this attracts sand and dirt that will shorten its life. Additionally, do not use sticky lubricants or grease, they will attract dirt and the grease will also attack the zipper material.
Cleaning the zipper and keeping the sealing edge clear of threads is essential. This is done by cutting the majority of the threads off with scissors, being extremely careful not to cut into the sealing edge. Take a lighter and lightly singe the edge as you would a piece of nylon line to stop the unraveling. Be extremely careful not to overheat the edge or your fingers.
The slider should never be jammed, forced, or twisted; it should have a clear path. Should the slider become jammed, carefully push the slider back and remove the obstruction. Never force it.
The zipper is made to precise tolerances for one purpose: to provide a seal. With proper care and maintenance, it will give years of satisfactory service.
When putting on and removing your suit, do not put undue stress on the open ends of the zippers. They don't stretch, they break.
Nearly 80% of zippers replaced are due to lack of lubrication. Brass on brass without lubrication will lead to wear. All it takes is thousandths of an inch of wear and your zipper will leak.