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Scuba Tank Visual Inspection Expiration
Eric_R - 7/17/2016 2:06 PM
Category: Equipment
Replies: 22

I have my tanks inspected annually as required and the stickers my local dive shop uses has all the months and several years listed so they don’t have to have stickers made every year. They Punch the month and the year the inspection was done. That being said if I get my tank inspected at the beginning of the month it’s still good through July of the next year so your technically you could be getting a free month in this scenario but you wouldn’t, getting them inspected near the end. I took my tanks to another local shop and the owner refused to fill them because he said they need inspections as the stickers were stamped July and the actual date was July 15. I told him they were inspected on July 31 as he doesn’t know the actual date they were inspected. He still refused so I said he was the first shop to ever do this and I will get them filled else where. I didn’t have time to wait for inspection as it was a on the way stop.

What do the rest of you experience with visual inspection dates from shop to shop? Does your shop punch the next month if the inspection is being done after the 15 of the month? Does your shop use the actual date? Am I wrong in feeling that the owner was splitting hairs on the date?
DiverfromBaskingRidge - 7/17/2016 2:34 PM
I make sure the Hydro test is done on all my tanks every 5 years. I don’t visually inspect my tanks - ever.

BTW - a visual is not a DOT or any other agency requirement, it is done at the discretion of the dive shop. First it is a money maker but secondly for an LDS it is a small insurance that someone is looking at the tanks to ensure they are not being abused and could possibly hurt their fill equipment or employees through a ruptured tank. But think about this - firemen use SCBA all the time and NEVER do a visual inspection - they do Hyrdo’s...

I am lucky - I fill my own tanks and on vacation I bring my tanks or rent...
ELLOCODIABLO - 7/18/2016 8:35 PM
Every place ive ever filled went til the end of the month.
John_giu - 7/24/2016 6:25 PM
I didn’t know Vis was optional
I think you would get the boot from most shops without a VIS
because it seems to be a standard. Even the PADI training tells you a VIS every year

That being said I don’t winter dive so at the end on the season I fill my tanks.
I can either get one dive out of them in the beginning of the next season or just eat the air fill.
I figure its worth throwing away an air fill to know the tanks are filled with dry air.

Im only paying $10 for the VIS air is free or I pay for the % of O2 I order.

Im glad to throw NES the $12 for each tank.

They put up with all my dumb questions from when I started diving.
John_giu - 9/03/2016 8:58 AM
Not worth $12 when your tank or valve blows out at 100’. my buddy’s tank just got caught on a vis with corrosion and a crack forming in the neck.

Cigarettes $9 a pack
Vis $12 a years.

Do the math, which would you rather die from?
ELLOCODIABLO - 9/15/2016 8:41 PM
The statute your quoting refers to visual inspection at the time a tank is hydroed once every ten years or in the case of scuba tanks every 5. The yearly vip required by dive shops is not law its only scuba industry standard. Not a bad idea. For all the people that complain about the cost isnt your life worth 13$ a year? Ive got more then a dozen tanks and finally just started doing all my own maint to help save cash but fir those of u that only have 3 or 4 tanks is it really that much of an expense compared to what you pay for other gear.
ELLOCODIABLO - 9/15/2016 8:43 PM
And with as much biz that ur lds has lost to the internet how does everyone expect them to survive without service work
ELLOCODIABLO - 9/15/2016 8:46 PM
Has anyone thats bitchen about the cost priced a tank tumbler,whip,tank drying rack,ceramic media, or chemicals to servive ur tanks
ELLOCODIABLO - 9/17/2016 2:21 AM
I guess if your just renting 1 alum 80 at a time for u it makes sense. We often take 4 or more depending on the dive and i like not havin to run for tanks or worry about the return. Rentals here r 10$ single 22$ for doubles for me its cheaper to do my own tank work short of hydro and pay my lds to slap the sticker on. U may not give 2 craps about the guy behind the counter or how much he makes but he is the one that owns and maintains the compressor thats pumpin ur air and when he is gone how far will you have to drive to get fills.for me it would be close to 90 min round trip not including fill time ......on 6 to 8 tanks if i take my buddys with me........and im in fl were dive shops r abundant. Jus sayin. Is yearly vip a scam on steels ...yep i think so. Alum prob not a bad idea. Ive seen more then a few with cracked necks. Id rather know that for the cost of the stickers the guy can afford to change the filters when the clock ticks off
Graveyard_Diver - 4/15/2018 10:57 PM
The correct answer is "It depends on who you ask."

According to DOT, who is the final governing authority, a VIP sticker expires on the last day of the month it’s punched (If your sticker is punched 04/2017 then it expires at midnight on 04/30/2018) unless a disqualifying condition occurs first.

According to PSI-PCI, it expires on the FIRST day of the month it’s punched. (If your sticker is punched 04/2017 then it expires at midnight on 03/31/2018) unless a disqualifying condition occurs first. (Such a a hydro expiration).

I don’t know what SSI teaches in their VIP class.

And no John_Glu, a VIP is not "optional". It’s codified into federal law in CFR 29, 1910.101a and CFR 49 171-179. CFR 29 also further states that IF CFR 29 or CFR 49 "are not applicable" then a high pressure cylinder must be inspected in accordance with CGA pamphlet C-6. CGA pamphlet 6 requires annual visual inspections.

What makes it even more confusing is that a VIP sticker isn’t required by any law at all, but a VIP is. What a VIP sticker does is make sense as a dive shop doesn’t have to ask you if your cylinder was VIP’d in the last year and who VIP’d it and then call that shop or inspector and ask them to go check their DOT logbook and see if your cylinder was really VIP’d. Imagine what a CF it would be if you had 18 people waiting to board a dive boat and you had to call 18 places and ask them if they VIP’d 18 tanks. What if a shop was closed that day, or the employee that VIP’d your cylinder was off that day?

What is funny is people who argue that Federal Code "isn’t really law" don’t argue that federal Copyright law (Title 17, United States Code) "isn’t really law".

Whatever you consider as "the expiration date" depends on which set of rules you chose to go by. I’m PSI certified, so I go by PSI rules and inspect to PSI standards. If your shop doesn’t go by PSI rules but goes by DOT rules then they aren’t breaking the law, they’re breaking the rules. Breaking the rules isn’t breaking the law.

Neither one of the shops here in town would give you any grief if your sticker was punched on 04/2017 and you showed up to dive on 04/29/2018.
Eric_R - 4/16/2018 10:20 AM
I also wonder what shops do if they inspect this month? Do they put the punch the next month as the date. Seems silly to ever have the possibility of denying a customer of a month when you can keep a customer coming back. The shop that wouldn’t fill my tank is now out of business.
Graveyard_Diver - 4/16/2018 10:49 AM
I can tell you what PSI standards are.

You punch the current month. Example, this month I punch 04/2018 on the VIP sticker.

Punching "the next month" would be illegal as that is a statement that says the cylinder was inspected next month. I have no way to state with any accuracy that a cylinder will be safe to use next month. I can only state that the cylinder in front of me is safe to use right now. What sort of defense would I use in court if you brought me a cylinder with a VIP sticker punched 07/2018 and todays date was 06/2018 and it exploded? I suspect the first thing the lawyer who was representing the guy who was suing me for $1,391,551,498,290,299,119 dollars would ask is, "What method do you think that the cylinder inspector used to inspect this cylinder in the future?" :)

Stickers can be "back dated" but they can’t be pre-dated.

Example...your VIP sticker expires on 02/2018 and your hydro expires 09/2018. Since the hydro expire will void the visual and require a new visual inspection, I can punch 09/2017 on your VIP sticker so your hydro and VIP will expire at the same time. The hydro guy is going to scrape the VIP sticker off anyway, so having a VIP sticker that expires after a hydro is pointless. Even though PSI says it’s "recommended practice" to punch a VIP sticker to expire on the hydro date expiration, I won’t do it. To me, that’s like falsifying a document. I know logic is that if the cylinder passes inspection today, it obviously passed inspection three months ago, but to me that implies that I inspected the cylinder on 09/2017, which I did not.

Again, that is how PSI teaches it. The guys certified by the "Youtube Cylinder Inspection" course might argue differently.

"The shop that wouldn’t fill my tank is now out of business."
The PSI, and general customer service "keep them happy" solution for that problem is, "Gee Mr. Customer. Your VIP sticker expired last week so I can’t fill this cylinder. But here, we’re gonna give you a rental cylinder for free and do your VIP while you’re out diving."

I’ve had customer get pissed off when I condemn their cylinder or tell them they have to spend another twenty bucks to tumble a cylinder. My first question is always, "Well why did you bring your cylinder in for inspection if you didn’t want to know the truth?" Trying to convince me to pass a cylinder where the valve is holding on by three threads is no different that just not getting a VIP.
Eric_R - 4/16/2018 2:24 PM
So if it’s a liability issue the actual day needs to be on there.Otherwise I guess I better keep my receipt to show the actual date to not only protect myself but the shop.
Graveyard_Diver - 4/16/2018 4:51 PM
From Eric_R: So if it’s a liability issue the actual day needs to be on there.Otherwise I guess I better keep my receipt to show the actual date to not only protect myself but the shop.

Apparently so. I’ve never seen a shop that nit-picky but his shop his rules. Even here at my LDS if your a week or two out of VIP they just give you a nasty look and "firmly remind you" that you need a VIP but they still do the fill.

Most shops I’ve been to aren’t "strictly by the book". Both shops here in town will put nitrox up to 40% in my not 02 clean tank and that’s a no-no because they go by PADI rules and not DOT/OSHA/CGA rules.
Graveyard_Diver - 4/16/2018 5:02 PM
You’ll find all kind of weird crap out there that’s "house rules" and not law or even industry practice. One shop I’ve been to "requires" a valve rebuild when they do a VIP. Their excuse is, "Tank valves are the most neglected piece of diver equipment. Therefore we require a valve rebuild when we do a VIP for the safety of our customers... yada yada yada." Ridiculous. No one rebuilds a valve every year. But apparently they have enough customers who don’t care or don’t know any better that they can keep that policy and still be profitable.

And then there’s the shops that won’t fill a tank older than 1988.

Then there’s the clowns who insist they must do an eddy test on 6061 and steel tanks.

It’s the old flawed logic that if the Coast Guard says I must have 2 fire extinguishers on my boat, then if I have four, I’m somehow twice as safe safe from a fire.