Meet new scuba divers, maintain a virtual dive log, participate in our forum, share underwater photos, research dive sites and more. Members login here.

Bouyancy control
BookdiverSC - 9/28/2009 9:52 AM
Category: General
Replies: 32

I hope it’s okay to post a question here. I am having trouble getting down, regardless of how much weight I have on. If I have a line or something to follow down, it’s not a problem. Also, if I’m swimming and don’t stop, I’ll stay down as well. That surface to about 15 feet kills me and I always pop right up to the surface. Does anybody else have this problem or am I a freak???? I know I’m weighted right because I took a deep class yesterday and we tried and retried various different amounts of weight. HELP!
ArchimedesPrinciple - 9/28/2009 11:11 AM

First off, you are not a freak

Secondly, if you are certain that you are weighted correctly then you need to work on relaxing. If we are exited or stressed we will tend to float easier
BookdiverSC - 9/28/2009 11:15 AM
Ha ha, thanks!! I can’t for the life of me figure out where I’m going wrong. We were swiming to depth and I was fine but the second we stopped, boom I went right back up. I had to use a pipe to get back down. Once I was at 20 feet, no more problems. So strange. 
h2ofria - 9/28/2009 11:30 AM

I had the same problem when I started. One of my buddies helped me cure it. He explained that I might not be expelling all of the air in my lungs each time I exhaled so just a little bit of air remained on each breath. After a few breaths doing this the volume of air in my lungs built up and I became positivily bouyant and started floating up. I worked on making sure I cleared my lungs on the exhale and the problem was solved.

It could be that while you are moving you are exhaling enough due to exertion but when you stop you don’t exhale quite as much, causing the problem.
drifter12 - 9/28/2009 11:37 AM

Hi Valerie: Remember that your wet suit compresses at depth and you become less bouyant - thats probably why you are having trouble at shallow depths. Also, the longer the dive the more air you use and become more bouyant. Are you using a 7mm wet suit ? So when you are assending, you have both those forces working against you. I would try a little more wieght especially in salt water. You don’t want to sink like an anchor either though. I took the PADI ’Peak Bouyancy" couse . It was very good. I would basically float upside down at depth (wierd) but the instructor and I tryed several combinations. I had all my weight in my BC. I found spreading it out between the BC, Weight belt, and even ankle weights for different situations. This in my opinion is the best elective course to your basic OWD classification. Hope this helps a little. See you around. Note, I will be back in S Carolina Oct 14th. Ted J>
DiveBuddyChgo - 9/28/2009 8:01 PM
Add more weight until you can get down and after BC is deflated.. Inflate BC gradually as you decend.. As your skills improve then you’ll be able to use less weights..
DiveBuddyChgo - 9/28/2009 8:05 PM
Ya shouldn’t be taking a Deep Dive class until you have your bouancy under control...Be careful
LatitudeAdjustment - 9/28/2009 8:35 PM
As children we learn to inhale before putting our heads underwater but as divers we need to exhale and start our dive with just enough air to clear our ears. Don’t take deep breaths in shallow water or you will be going up and down like a yoyo.
Matt65 - 9/29/2009 1:41 AM
 I’m as new a diver as they come, but one thing I do remember my instructor teaching us in class was that "Anxiety Floats" Listen to what the more experienced divers here tell you, just thought I would put my two cents worth in, just incase it helps any. Take care and dive safe!
Pixel - 9/29/2009 3:27 AM
As my dive instructor told me when I first started diving.

"small breath in, BIG breath out, small breath in, BIG breath out"
oceanfloor - 9/29/2009 7:02 AM
Funny and I thought I was .the only one that had that problem. That’s the main reason I avoid going to deep. Exhaling all the air from your lungs can be a real issue. I have found that I really need to exagerate the process. I exhale and exhale until I feel I can’t exhale anymore then exhale some more. Like you once I drop then I seem to be fine. But if I’m over weighted then I have problems staying neutrally bouyant. If I start to rise then I shoot so hard to do the safety stop. I’m working on it and seem to be able to decend a little easier now but stops... yuck.. sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever master those. I live less then a hour from a local quarry and keep going there to practice practice practice... I love diving :) good luck. I’m sure we’ll both get it hopefully sometime soon. :)
BookdiverSC - 9/29/2009 8:11 AM

Wow! I never thought I’d get so many helpful tips!!!!! My bouyancy is actually pretty close to spot on once I get over that 1-15 feet hump. We even hovered at like 15 (ok I stayed around 18 but whatever) for our safety stop and I never had a problem. My instructor noticed that there was some air trapped in my BC on the left side so he dumped it. Not really sure if that solved the problem but we shall see. I hardly ever have to put air in it once I get to depth.

I am hoping to go diving this weekend so I’m going to try out these great ideas of breathing, etc. Thanks again for the help!!!
dshoem8129 - 9/29/2009 4:09 PM
The advice that you have been getting is great. you should try to get all of these put together and you will have a great dive. The more dives that you get in the easier everything becomes. I looked through my log book and found that i had the same problem when i got started. I also found that I started diving with the same divers in the same areas. This helped me to relax and work on those skills. soon the weight was having to be removed from the weight belt. and diving was more fun with no Bouyancy problems.
Pixel - 9/30/2009 1:19 AM
oooo, you guys must be so careful. I went on an 25 meter dive before I had my buoyancy under control and it almost ended badly. When I reached the 5 meter stop I almost didn’t stop. Luckily my instructor had the presence of mind to sit on me to keep me down.

After that I dived no deeper than 10 meters until I got it all under control. Rather a few shallow dives than risking a disastrous deep one.
BookdiverSC - 9/30/2009 7:55 AM

To be perfectly honest, I’m not interested in doing deep dives anyway. Like I said before, I’m totally fine until I hit that like 12 feet and above mark.

Thanks everybody for your help!
oceanfloor - 9/30/2009 7:19 PM
I think I’d be happy sticking my face in a puddle of water.. with mask and tank of course.
Pixel - 10/01/2009 11:35 AM
I don’t know about your diving area, but here in Cape Town, we’ve got some awesome shallow shore dives. (max depth 13 meters.)

Key is just finding all of them. ;)
BookdiverSC - 10/01/2009 12:16 PM
Tracy, if I ever made it to Cape Town I seriously doubt I would ever leave. I am obsessed with sharks and Africa. Put them both together and I would be in HEAVEN!
Dolphins - 10/01/2009 12:50 PM
Not to rehash what I’m sure you’ve already read, but keep breathing out until you start sinking like a rock, and take smaller breaths in until you reach that 15’ mark. Or, tie an anchor to your leg. LOL. Just kidding, PLEASE, do not tie an anchor to your leg. The stress thing may cause it too. I recommend take a deep breath or two before you dump the air out of your BC to relax, and when you are ready, just start dumping the air and keep exhaling. Let us know how it works out.
scubaclay - 10/01/2009 1:20 PM

Any HONEST diver will tell you that bouyancy is an on going process, that is worked on EVERY dive. Even abter over 700 dives I am always working on my bouyancy. If you are weighted to light you will pop at the end of a dive, also if you are using aluminum tanks you will pop at the end of a dive if your to light. That is wy I use steel tanks when I’m diving in any kind of water. Hope this helps you.

Flamingo - 10/01/2009 6:32 PM
During my initial OW lessons, which were just last month, I also had trouble staying down. Although I am only 100 pounds soaking wet, I had to increase my weight to 8 lbs in salt water with a 3m shorty. The strange thing that is different from your experience is that it was happening when I was trying to swim forward. When I was still and floating, my buoyancy was fine. When I began to start swimming again, I started to float upward. I spoke with the dive manager and her tip for me was to sing in the water. It immediately struck a key for me. Going back to my singing days, when you sing, you use your stomach muscles to help expel the air from your lungs in a more efficient, controlled manner. When I applied this concept to my diving, it worked really well. You might scare some fish away, but it might be worth a try.
RonSubmerged - 10/01/2009 6:53 PM
In the past I have had buoyancy issues, I would always swim with my arms and just deplete my tank in no time. Since then I have figured out how to keep off the bottom by adding a little to my BCD at a time, sink easily by comfortably exhaling until I start to sink, reduce the cold shock by dunking my head real good and hanging out up top before submerging, and improving my swimming with the help of the split fins.

My only issue with buoyancy is how much weight to use when I use different wet suits. I find noting how much you used with what exposure protection after a successful dive a useful tool. It saves you the trouble of remembering!
DalelynnSims - 10/02/2009 5:53 AM

You would likely benifit from a peak performance buoyancy class. See if the local dive shop has someone that can do this for you or look us up. We give a great one and have taken as much as 10 lb off people and they ended up both with great trim in the water and the ability to stay down easely at under 10’ of water.

Hope this helps and Best Fishes!! [
Fishboy21 - 10/02/2009 9:14 AM
Three words - equipment, exhale, relax. We all have that problem when we are new divers and on occasion even after we’ve gained experience. Realizing that will be a good start toward becoming a more relaxed diver. Are you using off the shelf equipment? If you fit between the stock sizes, you may be using a BC that is too large allowing it to float upand and making it dificult to adequately exhaust the air. Talk to your dive shop - manufacturers often have sizes that are not normally carried in the shop, such as ML, and it is a simple matter of having the shop order it. Also all waters vary in the amount of dissolved solids, and that will affect your bouyancy. If you usually dive in a freshwater lake that is fed by surface runoff, it may have only 100 - 200 ppm of dissolved salts, on the other hand a spring fed quarry may be more brackish, containing 800 to 1500 ppm. Understanding this allows you to adjust your weighting without feeling like you are somehow doing something wrong, and that will make it easier to relax.
divemaiden - 10/04/2009 5:54 AM
I had a friend who had the same problem. He actually overweighted himself but still could not get down. We finally figured out the problem was he wasn’t getting ALL the air out of his bcd. His inflator hose was velcroed down to minimize drag, but because it was velcroed down he was unable to dump all his air even though he thought he was. He didn’t want to keep undoing the velcro to get the entire hose straight up to dump, so he points himself head down and uses his dump valve. Me, I prefer to leave my inflator hose free so I can dump easily.
IceCube - 10/04/2009 6:41 PM
As for the inflator hose, I tied mine down with a small section of black shock cord at the top of my shoulder to the shoulder strap. It’s enough to keep the hose from flopping all over the place, but gives it enough freedom to fully dump when held above my head.
BookdiverSC - 10/05/2009 10:54 AM

We went diving yesterday and I still had the same issues I’ve been having. I had to swim next to the wall to keep myself from floating to the surface. I pulled on my inflator hose so hard but I don’t think that helped. I’m just going to have to overweight myself like I did on my third dive in order to keep myself down.

I do appreciate all the tips! I tried working on my breathing while I was out yesterday.
Hobie - 10/05/2009 5:12 PM
When you get ready to descend exhale all your air, when you breath in dont take in a full breath, only take in a half breath, when you exhale this breath, exhale a full breath again. When your at 10 to 15 ft dont take in full breaths take slow half breaths. This is were people have their problems, because the deep breaths will float you back towards the surface. Another trick you may try is flood your suit, it is possible you may be getting air pockets in your wetsuit. So what you can do is grab the neck of your wetsuit and pull it out to let water inside and this will fill these pockets, helping you to sink. Trial and error.
Realllydg - 10/05/2009 10:28 PM
When I download my dives onto the computer, I can see a direct correlation between my buoyancy and my breathing (SAC rate.) When I breathe faster, I go higher. The more relaxed I stay in my breathing, the more neutral I stay in my buoyancy. Best cure for this - diving. Just keep diving, work on relaxing and it will come. 15 feet to the surface are the hardest to control but it will come! :)
charstew - 10/05/2009 11:35 PM
Hobie floods his suit with pee which must be quite negative... LOL.. But some of us need more weight than others because we are naturally more buoyant. Hobie is right about the breathes trust me, we were beat into submission by our tech instructor. Steel tanks help to add weight and try different BC’s out.

From Hobie: When you get ready to descend exhale all your air, when you breath in don’t take in a full breath, only take in a half breath, when you exhale this breath, exhale a full breath again. When your at 10 to 15 ft don’t take in full breaths take slow half breaths. This is were people have their problems, because the deep breaths will float you back towards the surface. Another trick you may try is flood your suit, it is possible you may be getting air pockets in your wetsuit. So what you can do is grab the neck of your wetsuit and pull it out to let water inside and this will fill these pockets, helping you to sink. Trial and error.
Easydiver2 - 10/06/2009 4:45 PM
I changed wetsuits from 3 to 5mm and added 8-10lbs to keep me down but I still pop up when I’m in the 15-20ft depth. Kinda hard to do the decompression stops with big swells coming by. My dive buddies noticed that I tend to have a lot of leftover air left in my BC when I’m at this depth near the surface. So I’m concentrating on exhausting the BC air and while I still pop up, it’s now the last 5 feet. Get your dive buddies to help you and explain to them what to look for before the dive.
oceanfloor - 10/07/2009 1:41 PM
Hey it works.. I went from a 3 mil + 14 lbs to a 7 mil + 18 lbs. I did great when I did what Hobie suggested with the breathing. I didn’t have to flood my suit either. I think I’ve almost got it!!!!!
BookdiverSC - 10/08/2009 8:19 AM
Woo hoo!!! That’s great. Looks like you and I are finally getting the hang of this thing!