Sad to say that sometimes an underwater photography housing will flood with water damaging the equipment inside. While not particularly common, it is important to know that it can happen. Some of the most common reasons are below.
Decadent packs caught on seals
This might seem silly – but it is very common to have a decadent pack get caught in your housing seals as you are locking things up. Since most seals have some push and bend to them, it is easy tog et the pack caught and not even notice. However that tiny corner of the decadent pack that is caught will quickly allow water in once the water pressure increase when you get down to your diving depth.
Salt / mineral build up
If decadent packs were the most common, salt build up or other grime getting caught in the seals would be the next most common reason for underwater photography equipment flooding. Preventing salt and mineral build up is accomplished in two different ways. First, always ensure that you properly clean and lube your equipment after each use. Second is to properly inspect your equipment as your are latching and locking it up for a dive. When in doubt, take a few extra minutes to clean your seals and rings.
Don’t rush preparation
Preparing your equipment on a crowded boat in direct sunlight while rocking back and forth is not easy. In fact this approach could very well lead to accidental flooding of your equipment. For this reason it is always best to do your preparation work in a controlled environment, preferably well before your dive. That way when you are about to jump in the water, you don’t have to worry about your equipment.
When preparing your equipment, take your time. There is no need to rush your preparation. More times then not, rushing your preparations will result in you forgetting a step and cause flooding within your equipment.
Sync cord seals
Be sure to properly check your sync cord seals before entering the water. Your sync cords are what attaches your strobe lights to your camera. They are generally fastened and tightened down with a screw style setup. Before connecting your sync cords, ensure that there are no particles, dust, etc, inside the connectors. Once connected, ensure that they are fastened securely and will not come loose mid dive. When you are changing the cords, make sure that no salt water can get inside the ports as it is likely that the water will dry there causing mineral deposits to be left. When not connected, keep a fastener or cover over the ports to prevent dust and other build up inside the connector.
Slamming your equipment in the water
Don’t jump into the water with your equipment. A hard slam of your equipment against the water can cause seals to pop or water to enter the chambers. Also avoid throwing your equipment into the water even if it floats. Have a buddy hand you your equipment once you are properly in the water. When exiting the water, give your equipment to a buddy first before attempting to exit.
Bad rings and seals
Always make sure to check your seal rings. Just like all of your equipment, these will deteriorate over time. If you see any evidence of wear, stretching, cuts, nicks, etc. replace the rings out. it is much less expensive to replace a few rings and seals then it is to completely replace your camera equipment.
Bad hinges and doors
As with your rings and seals, be sure to check the hinges and doors on your equipment as these can also deteriorate over time. Your hinges may become loose and need to be tightened. Your doors may develop nicks or scratches. While these may look small and innocent at first, a serious scratch or knick could lead to serious cracking once the housing is put under pressure once you get to your diving depth.
Bad latches and closures
You may laugh at this but it does happen. Double check the your latches and rings after closing your equipment. it is possible for your seal rings to pop off when you had your rig open. Or it is possible that you thought that the latch was closed only to have it pop back open after closing. Both of these will cause embarrassing and expensive damage to your equipment.