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How to get certification to perform visual inspections on scuba tanks?
Greg - 6/18/2013 11:36 AM
Category: Training
Replies: 25

It’s hard to believe I’ve never looked into this before...but how would I go about getting certified to perform my own scuba tank visual inspections? What agencies offer that? What costs are associated with it (class, test, certification, annual fees)? What gear is required to perform the tank inspections? Where can I get the fancy visual inspection stickers?
RockRat2008 - 6/18/2013 11:54 AM

Here is the agency of choice:

Professional SCUBA Inspectors / Professional Cylinder Inspectors

I got certified through them last year and it is a really good class. The certification is good for 3 years and then you have to take a refresher to renew it. It was $300 (I think) when I went through it, but our instructor told us the rates were going up this year.

They also sell the VIP stickers as well as the other tools you need to perform the cylinder inspections.
Greg - 6/18/2013 12:20 PM
Wow! They want over $170 for a light stick to see inside the tank? Couldn’t we just use those string LED Christmas lights for $15?

Thanks for the info, I’ll research them a little more. Do you have to pay them a fee for each tank you visually inspect and put a sticker on? What record keeping/validation process is required?
RockRat2008 - 6/18/2013 12:25 PM
Yeah, you can definitely get your inspection tools less expensive from other outlets. I found a really nice inspection light on amazon that is good for Oxygen & Nitrox for $100.

There are no fees involved other than the cost of your course. Record keeping is totally your responsibility. They do have forms you can get from them that I do recommend because if you follow their form/inspection sign off process and have everything documented properly then that form does stand up as protection for you in court if a tank were to fail after you VIP it.
Eric_R - 6/18/2013 3:20 PM
Visuals for me are $18 and that includes the air fill and new neck O-ring. That’s only $216 for three years on my 4 tanks. Not really worth it since if I was inspecting my own I would have to pay for the air fill at $6 each and an O-ring for $.50 each. Besides I’m not going to step on my local shops toes. It would be Ok if there wasn’t a local shop and I had the air station.
RockRat2008 - 6/18/2013 7:08 PM
I do work for a local dive shop so that is why I took the course, not just to VIP my own tanks.
RAWalker - 6/19/2013 12:42 AM
SDI also has a VIS course and it is generally much less expensive. As for stickers you can find generic ones online or design and print your own. Most shops do the later which also promotes the shop. I do so for my Divers Club.

I actually took the PSI/PCI suite of courses at the last DEMA show. It includes Visual Cylinder Inspector, Valve Repair Technician, Oxygen Cleaning Cylinder Technician and Eddy Current Technician.

You can purchase alternate tools to do the work properly. You wouldn’t be the first tech to use LED rope lights to inspect cylinders.
DiveBuddyChgo - 8/04/2013 7:29 PM
Really ?? Is there a government inspection VIP certificate threw the DOT ?? If there was then a certificate # should be required by the DOT labeled on each VIP sticker. Can anyone show us in print where the DOT requires an inspection every year with a government approved certification. If so where is the DOT cert # on all of the VIP stickers. Hydro’s are the only DOT requirement that I know of. And that is recorded and stamped on the tank. Not a peel off $0.50 sticker that anyone can have printed on adhesive peel away paper. Think about it
RAWalker - 8/04/2013 10:45 PM
VIP is a scuba industry standard. DOT requires a visual inspection along with the Hydrostatic Testing requirement and suggests the annual VIP. The problem starts with liability insurance for a dive shop or dive operator The liability coverage requires the owners to make all industry accepted requirements to maintain coverage. This then requires that these owners have only properly inspected cylinders to rent and only fill properly inspected cylinders to operate a fill station. If an accident were to happen to a cylinder that wasn’t inspected the lack of insurance coverage could break the bank.

Now think about that.

If you have your own compressor and only fill your own tanks you may not need to worry about the liability unless of course the tank you were filling explodes takes out something of your neighbors but if you were standing around doing the fill, you probably wont have any worries anyway.
DiveBuddyChgo - 8/05/2013 2:48 AM
Still you havn’t given proof. Liability is a choice. Try again.
Eric_R - 8/05/2013 4:59 AM
We don’t want the government involved anymore then they are. The Scuba industry is one of the best examples of a self regulated industry with an outstanding safety record.
RockRat2008 - 8/05/2013 5:10 AM
I’ll pull out my PSI/PCI manual when I get home and see what I can reference. There were actually several DOT regulation references made during the course of the certification class I went through.

Also, if you want to get picky, the requirement is at least once a year, not only once a year. If something were to happen to the tank, i.e. you’re sliding it out of your trunk and it lands neck down on the valve then it should have another VIP done immediately even if one was done a month ago. Anything that happens throughout the course of a year that could jeopardize the integrity of the cylinder requires you to bring it in for a new VIP.
RAWalker - 8/05/2013 12:55 PM
Ok Chgo,

Here is the standards that require Visual Inspection.

OSHA 29 CFR 1910.101A

Each employer shall determine that compressed gas cylinders under his control are in a safe condition to the extent that this can be determined by Visual Inspection. Visual and other inspections shall be conducted as prescribed in the Hazardous Materials Regulations of the Department of Transportation (49 CFR, parts 171-179)
tshark - 9/27/2013 5:36 PM
and then there was silence!!!!! lol
Greg - 9/27/2013 5:44 PM
From tshark: and then there was silence!!!!! lol
. No kidding, after all the requirements and’s hardly worth it.
DiveBuddyChgo - 9/28/2013 5:49 AM
OK TRhere is no proof shown yet. I am DOT HAZMAT cert’d. Again DOT only requires Hydro’s/5years for alum. But it is the law for Scuba tanks to be VIP’d every year by a PSI cert’d tec. Its under another organization with medical supplies. OK I’ll let you know where the proof is that a VIP is required with the government for scuba tanks yearly in about a week. Keep looking and keep learning. Remind me in a week or so if you don’t have the proof yet.

I think I will start another survey on the issue of scuba tanks to stir the pot so we can all learn about the facts.

Greg You are correct about its not worth the cost to do VIP on you own tanks. Besides the light to look inside the tank. The scope to look at the threads with the eye is roughly $750.
RockRat2008 - 9/30/2013 5:20 AM
FICTION: There is no authority for SCUBA cylinders to have an annual visual inspection. This is just a standard of practice in the SCUBA industry
FACT: In CGA Pub P-5 Paragraph 6.1 the Compressed Gas Association requires all cylinders in SCUBA service to be visually inspected annually.

FICTION: The Code of Federal Regulations is not law.
FACT: While technically true, 44 USC 1507 (public law) requires that the Federal Register be “judicially noticed”, that is, recognized by the courts as law. All aspects of the CFR have been first printed in the Federal Register and the CFR is prima facie evidence of the text of the original documents as published in the Federal Register.
In short, while the CFR may technically be regulation and not law, you will never win that argument in court.
dive7mmwet - 12/29/2013 3:35 PM

PSI is a cash cow generator for dive shops, That’s why tons of other agency giants are now in it including PADI!!!and thats got PSI MAD!!! REAL MAD! THEY( PSI ) say the big boys stole their course outlines!
although they may have got a few bad alloy tanks out of service & never really proven off the market!!! and many more great AL tanks destroyed for no reason! because a few fools and notice I say a few cave filled, OVER FILLED some tanks,kept them in over heated Florida cars changing the metallurgical structure and yes BOOM in a shop a tanks may of blown up? was this due to faulty tank? or the fool filling them never relay proven do the research!!!!!

OK I spent a entire half day on the phone not long back trying to get a straight answer JUST ONE! from the Acting president owner ?? of the certifying tank agency PSI he is a BEAUTY! Straight answer never!!~! but ask a question it will be followed by another convoluted question but no answer and he is really protective of his agency! They have been in court more than Perry Mason! They get sued and sue others!!!!!

Probably sue me next BRING IT ON BABY!!! Id love it!! I have more crap on supposedly Certified PSI Instructors and their BULL SHIT SERVICE TECHNIQUES! AND WAYS THEY ARE TRAINED TO RIP FOLKS OFF!! ok not rip off but empty their wallets IMO!!! remember PSI they train & only trains! what their inspector dose has nothing to do with PSI NOTHING AT ALL!! I got guys with PSI stickers that have not attended any classes in years!! slapping PSI stickers on FIRE DEPARTMENT EQUIPMENT! GUYS AND GALS THAT ARE TRYING TO PROTECT YOU AND ME! WITH THEIR LIVES! I call in and report this and get oh well?? we are a training agency and that’s about it no enforcement?? of what any one dose?? Ok back to the phone call,,

I filtered threw some of his BS on my phone call and and came back with why PSI is in existence and one is money! THEY GENERATE BIG MONEY[ 1. for PSI, 2.Next for the gang of gypsy instructors thru out the country pushing this money generating BS this is the layer effect as I think the training instructors are sub contractors not actual agents for PSI as if a layer of protection between the teacher and the students,TO dive shops that are in a dying industry! its on the same line as realities as rel estate home flipping,get rich schemes, so on and so on. diving is dying due to lack of advertising, movies on it, and shows for younger generations to gain interest! And to see the machines of Certification cert giants take the money but put none back go figure! oopps back to tank inspection!

The beginning was way back with a few cold beers in some Florida dive shop damp,musty back room as I think a few good Old boys were trying to figure how they could have fun in the sun and still generate some cash in slow times after bug season or tourist season! and wham salt water in scuba tanks was bad and we can make some money on it!! That was the start,next a tank blows up! BAD,BAD,BAD!!!! NO ONE EVER DID NO WHY! Bad alloy??? Past Over fill’s,fast fill’s,bad treatment of tank ? tank inspection was born!!! This was my take on my conversation and research only!!IMO

OK back to the fact’s Guys and gal’s NO SCUBA TANK NONE!!! STEEL ,AL OR OTHERWISE needs a VIP by any one this is PER D.O.T. regulations And they are the only players The boy’s with the big balls! Pardon the pun! in the compressed gas,tank business Regulation & Manufacturing and transportation of said tanks! The fact are all on line and are pages and sub chapters and links and more crap and law lingual - bingo NO ONE has a enough time to read and all they do is take facts from industries like lets say L.P. gas - CGA a trade association what bite do they have? THEY MAKE NO FEDERAL LAWS!

If you like to learn the truth go to your local TANK HYDRO shop as in Fire suppression equipment dealer and equipment or tank Hydro shop , Get your hydro.s done here and save big money v.s the local LDS trying to rip you off more!!!! or Compressed Gases company i.e. welding gasses and OXYGEN dealer, I have 100% O-2 tanks filled regularly as on our dive boat it seems like the cob webs get cleaned out more than the advanced Deco use!! with a hydro only! Welding gas acetylene,CO-2,Helium,NO VISUAL STICKER! JUST 5 FIVE YEAR HYDRO’s HMM[ Lets think 100% O-2 can make just about any thing burn! no visual sticker!! WERE ALL GOING TO DIE!!!!! NOT!!!!!!! The main reason the compressed gas dealers of America are not letting any inspection certification agency on their turf! THE D.O.T. IS THE STANDARD REGULATING AGENCY! THAT’S IT! ENOUGH SAID! As they have a great track record!And make their money the old fashion way the earn it!

Now what do you do or better what can you do? ? a educated person is a smarter consumer beat these grease balls devils at their own game! some basic ideas or tips ! DON’T TAKE MY WORD ON THIS!

1. a dive shop can refuse to fill your scuba tank with a out of date hydro yes go to a hydro shop and get it hydro-ed!

2. A dive shop can not fill or will not fill your tank because its dose not have a current VIP yes, ways around this well many ways to skin a cat! I DO NOT ENDORSE THIS!!! BUT KNOW OF MANY MANY Divers get around this and they do naughty things! 1. one go on ebay buy a generic book of VIP STICKERS by the book and fill em out? seems to be common practice even with past inspectors not updating their training but certifying tanks as inspected and then doing shotty over priced service work! THIS PISSES ME OFF BIG TIME! I think you can tell!, cant find em on Ebay this week! go to some of the major online scuba direct suppliers the ones that’s sell generic regulator rebuild kits and off brand repair parts to the general public or just print your own ! It seems like the agency don’t really care!

3. GO to your local LDS IF YOU THINK YOU CAN TRUST!, mark down all your serial No#s FIRST!and tag each tank with a tag and sticker stating NO OTHER WORK THAN A VISUAL BE PREFORMED! BEFORE OTHER WORK CAN BEGIN YOU MUST CALL! This one keeps them honest or more honest! next you will have less of a chance with tank tumbling or other service B.S. a major source of income for service at LDS shops as this is taught for generating income by the tank inspection training agency’s

4. Learn about your tanks steel or aluminum, treat them kind bleed them down to less than # 200 lbs not much more if you don’t use them in a long period’s!store them in a cool climate controlled area not in your garage subject to major temperature changes. do not keep them in your trunk on hot day’s ! Make sure to rinse in fresh water (after you dive salt water) your tank valve & after regulator removal and crack your valve after each use and prior to filling EVERY TIME!!!If your shop dose not crack a valve for a second prior to a fill move on to another shop or re train the attendant! This is a Major & Common cause of water infiltration into a compressed gas tank!

5. Feel free to take a lookski into your tanks prior to taking them to your LOCAL,[ TRUSTWORTHY, LDS!!! well how do you do that simple again your not going to die got it! its not rocket science its not brain surgery! I consider my self a mental midget and I figured this out! you need to bleed your tanks down SLOW ,REAL SLOW! so first go diving that"s fun right! getting ripped off year after year that’s just not fun right! ok use some air, next in a safe area! like your work shop or garage in a semi clean area take and lightly crack your tank valve REAL SLOW DRAIN OF AIR!! unlike dive shops in a hurry can and I have personally seen this way too many times crack a tank wide open NOT GOOD! compressed air at 3000 #LBS can do a lot of nasty things, next bleeding a tank fast causes the tank to condensate and in steel tanks this can cause rust! and rust causes the shop to tumble your tank and after each tumble your tank needs to have a hydro and after your tank is filled with water it flash rust’s and after the hydro you need a Visual but due to the flash rust the Tank inspector needs to do a tumble OK you see the gimmick it never ends if you go by the rules the guys made to keep us safe from these naughty tanks!
after Airs bleed’s down now get a proper size wrench many guys and dive shops just use the LARGE universal wrench aka adjustable and some carpet to lay tank down between your legs and and give it a crack remember righty tighty and lefty loosie!
6. how can you see in your tank?? its all dark and I am scared! its easy and cheap!! with the advent of cheap LED bulbs you can buy them so cheap on ebay in a strip like plastic rope or a string or stick you can insert and light that tank like time square Cool! cost’s $10 a mirror on ebay or at home depot $4 bucks to look at the neck and threads.
7. a whip?? to keep every one honest! buy one on ebay $100 bucks best item every diver needs to own! crack a few pounds back in your personally inspected scuba tank prior to service! this is a great way to ferret out the RAT’S!
8. My favorite is video !! O- BOY dose this piss off the NAUGHTY ,NAUGHTY Dive shops! I have and sell this cool video camera set up! less [$50 bucks that I scroll across your/ my tank serial No# prior to insertion and then on your computer laptop you have a real time video of the condition in side your tank as it has its own built in light and a time & date stamped just in case you need to get real serious as in a court case !
In closing I personally do not condone NOT/NON trained service of any scuba equipment including tanks or any other life support equipment unless your properly trained! or falsifying or altering any agency’s forms or paper work! that said it could be some one else’s life or some one else who or whom could be injured! not only yours!
BUT if you fill your own tanks like many of us do with air we have had tested we understand the truth of tanks and what service they need and thoughts on how to protect your investment. The facts that are written above only my opinion and may not be facts
RAWalker - 12/29/2013 11:32 PM
Hi Diver7mmwet,
Not a badly thought out article except for the one piece you are missing that is the legal bite of it all.
In reading the DOT, CGA and OSHA documents regarding storage and handling of high pressure gases the issue is safety and legal liability. Just like every other part of our sport it comes down to mitigating the risks involved. If you are refilling for yourself the liability risks may be limited but the dangers of a explosion are real not imaginary. If you are refilling for commercial gain the exposure to risk does increase. Certification and training is about increasing your shielding from liability risk. So if you are a do it yourselfer and your fill station is isolated to the point that explosive damage would be limited to your own property then that is your risk alone. If your fill station is near enough to neighbors to risk their person or property you had best consider that and if your liability insurance would cover you should an incident occur. If you are engaged in anything beyond for yourself it doesn’t matter how isolated your fill station you are always at increased liability risk. Not just from explosion but from questions of service or fill quality should anything happen to a diver using a tank that you serviced in any way. So you may question the validity of the services involved with tank inspection and the certifications required to do so but if you ever get caught up in litigation you’ll wish you had adhered to an accredited program such as PSI/PCI.
ks54 - 7/07/2014 6:57 PM
Thier is much more to an inspection than just a light. I have taken the wourse now 2 times. It is a renewable course because of hte fed requirement for hasmat reoccuring training its 300 for the course and 200 apx for the refresher. I ahve not asked but in my opinion the vis process should be good for ever adn teh refresh be done for the hasmat. Either way, teh inspection process is not just look into a tank for oil and then close it up. The purpose of the course is to provide teh training and skills to properly do a vis so that if an accident does happen you can document that it is not the inspectors fault from neglegence through inadaquate inspeciton process. PSI is the only federally accepted certification agency for cylendar inspection. Not to say other agencies are not legit only that they are not federally accepted. For those that say whats the difference? There are some cylendars that can only be inspected by a PSI certifier. No other agencies vis sticker is valid on those tanks. What PSI did was took all the regs that are in place by the agencies dot cga ect and made a course to train inspectors to inspect while complying with all those regulatory agencies. Failure to be 100% compliant in a courtroom would be teh end of a business as far as shops go. The require inspection paperwork with pictures and diagrams and comments to be made on every tank inspected. They issue a number fo the inspector to afix to the tank he inspected just like a hydro guy has a stamp. This is done because there is a requirement that the inspection be tracable. Not to a company or shop but to the person. I will give you that i think PSI will take things to the extreem when it comes to what if’s however that is just what a lawyer will do to fix fault in the event of an accident to those with the deepest pockets. Comments have been made tha PSI is pissed about other agencies copying thier course. Honestly i dont know why they would be. The information is all out there. Once agin if i hadd to fault PSI at anything , it would be attaching the hasmat renewal to the vis certification being good for only 3 years. I thik that is pretty chicken. I can tell you that if you have a clean tank the vis is a brease but have one pit and teh show is on. I would venture to guess that if you asked most anyone about exemption’s or SP’s that are doing vis’s they would say HUH. Or suthorization to stamp tanks or teh removal from service legal ramifications. One thing for sure the PSI phylosophy is to find a way to pass a tank. If a spec is no more than 60 then 60 is passing. if its 63 you get another opinion or use other tools to verifying the inperfection is a failing one. Probably no one knows that if you get a tank and its deformed like a banana shape then it can still pass. I thinkthat those who are anti PSI are not giving them a fair shake. Sometimes you get what you pay for.
ks54 - 7/07/2014 6:59 PM
Yes you could, are you talking about teh white light for seeing in the tank or the light for hydrocarbon illumination, i havent looked for some time. I think the one you are talking about is like a blue ight for lighting up hydrocarbons.
ks54 - 7/07/2014 7:03 PM
For me I dive steel tanks. I have probably 10 of them of various sized. I dont need the eddie equipment and the closest shop for me is probably 90 miles. So thats 100 a year for the course and 65 for the refresher per year after that. to vis 10 tanks. thats less way less than 10 per tank.
ks54 - 7/07/2014 7:14 PM
I dont knwo what to say. but i will say this. the feds got out of the Law based control of cylendars and wrote a law that basically said that all handling and operations will be conducted IAW with recomendatins and regulations of existing agencies. This was done to eliminate the lag time from a problem and getting congress to act. The agincies are cga dot and others like them. so by virtue of that when those agencies figured out that they were on the hook for inadaquste required proceedures and not congress things began to change such as requireing O2 cleaning for above 23.5% and 50psi. These agencies have signed off PSI as teh group that has demonstrated and proven to be up to date in thier processes in both hasmat and cylendar concerns. PSI does not write the law they are training to provide protection for litigation by teaching the strict compliance proceeduraly to minimize your liability exposure. Ultimately the feds passed the busk adn made regulations sudo law.
Smithsgold - 5/31/2016 10:50 AM
all i can add to this is it was a good read !!!!
Diver_Diva - 5/31/2016 6:25 PM
Actually, its not worth it to even buy a tank. I can rent a tank for $5 day at my LDS. Unless you have your own compressor, even if you own a tank you have to go to get it filled. And if you travel to dive, you use the tanks available at your destination.
RAWalker - 5/31/2016 11:17 PM
That is correct for the majority of divers the exceptions being the minority of us that dive more frequently locally. Another reason may be that you want higher capacity tanks for longer dives. Very few dive shops rent tanks larger than 80 cf. Tank capacities of up to 130 cf. are available should you need or want them. Then there is the question of Nitrox fills and rentals of those tanks can cost more for a fill and may or may not be available for rental.

As an instructor I use higher capacity tanks to insure I have a backup capacity should an emergency arise with a student. I also have learned that the weight and buoyancy characteristics of different tanks can alter the amount of additional weight I may need. Not all tanks are the same.