Troubleshooting mask leaks before chucking it away
Clearing a fully or partially flooded mask is probably second nature to most of us by now, but to be constantly doing it through the entire dive can be down right annoying. Wonder no more! Here are our 6 common reasons to leaky masks:
#1. Poorly fitted masks
First things first, have you got a well-fitted mask? You can easily do this check by the following steps:
- Put it on your face without putting the mask strap on (leave it hanging under the mask)
- Hold the mask against your face and gently inhale (through your nose) to create a vacuum between the mask and your face
- As you inhale, let go of the mask… if the mask drops, it doesn’t fit. If it stays as long as you’ve gently inhaled and holding your breath thereafter, you’re good to go.
Remember: Masks comes in all shapes and sizes, therefore getting a properly fitted mask is more important than purchasing one that makes you look cool.
#2. Hair and hood interference
Getting a good seal means having nothing under the mask skirt. Any object, however thin, that is wedged underneath the skirt of the mask will allow water to get in. Hair is one culprit that affects mask leakage that often goes ignored.
If you’re wearing a hood, make sure there are no renegade strands in the way and ensure that the mask skirt is against your skin and not overlapping the neoprene. The same goes for those diving with a bandana.
#3. That stache… bearder of not-so-good news
This is more for the gentlemen. Facial hair pose the same problems are head hair as it acts as an object trapped between the mark skirt and your face. A clean-shaven appearance will help the mask fit flush against your skin and improving the seal.
If shaving your masterpiece seems like a step too far, try trimming. Such as shortening the moustache, thinning out the hair. And if this compromises your style… some divers mentioned of using some form of petroleum jelly to act as a sealant around the stache, though it’s not a guarantee. If you want to give this a shot, be wary that chemicals in petroleum jelly will break down the silicon skirt and shorten the life of your mask. Be reminded to clean it properly after every dive for good measure.
#4. Mask is strapped on too tight
A rookie mistake when trying to fix a mask leak is to tighten it even more. This seems intuitive, but odds are, this only adds to the problem as the mask skirt may warp and potentially introduce water in.
The mask strap is just there to keep the mask on your face when you’re not yet underwater. When underwater, the mask is held in place with the surrounding pressure. So no worries there!
Try this on for size: Put on your mask and straps and tighten it as your normally would. Next, hold the mask against your face with one hand and with the other, release the tension via the strap buckles. This should be enough to relieve any excess tension without loosening the strap too much that it falls off your face. As a bonus, you won’t finish your dive with serious mask indentations on your face. =)
#5. Sunscreen all over your face
Wait… what? Just like hair interference, sunscreen reduces the friction between the mask skirt and your face, therefore increasing the risks of mask leakages. If you are diving in a tropical country, you’re going to get a tan anyway. Let’s just embrace it. But if you absolutely need to protect your face from those nasty UV-rays, try applying on areas of your face that do not come in contact of the mask, and focus on the sensitive areas like, your forehead, ears and back of the neck.
#6. Exhaling through your nose
You’ve done everything right, you’ve done all the checks, took all precautionary steps, and it’s still leaking. What now?
Make sure you are not exhaling (even ever so slightly) through your nose. This would reduce the airtight seal around your face and therefore allowing water to seep in.
So there you have it, our 6 common reasons to leaky masks. Do you have more insights, tips and tricks? Do share you comments below!