A leaky mask can spoil a dive. It’s a real pain to have to spend most of your dive clearing a mask instead of taking in the underwater surroundings. This can be particularly annoying for new divers and if your mask clearing skills aren’t up-to-par, a leak can even be a bit frightening.
Don’t go out and buy a new mask just because the old one leaks
According to my friend Adrian, a long-time diveshop manager and instructor, a lot of people buy more than one mask in their earlier stage of diving because they believe the problem with leaks lies with the dive mask. But the real problem lies with HOW the mask is being worn. His record serial mask buyer bought four masks in six months until she got a haircut (the culprit was her long hair, caught under the skirt of the mask).
So once you’ve got a comfortable and well-fitting mask, there are things you can do to reduce the leaks problem.
Mask leak prevention tips
Make sure the strap is not too tight. The immediate reaction to a leak for many people is that the strap is not tight enough. An overly tight mask will make the problem worse – and leave that mark on your face that won’t go away for three hours.
A neoprene Mask Strap Cover is really nice for preventing hair tangles and pulls when you put on and remove the mask – a must have for those with longer hair.
Cracks, rips and tears
Check for rips and tear in the mask skirt. This could be a source for leaks.
Take care of your mask. Wash your mask after diving, dry and store in a box or case to avoid damage.
DO NOT use a cheap snorkel mask for diving. They are not designed for diving cannot withstand the pressure at depth. Always buy your scuba diving equipment from reputable dealers and shops.
The problem with hair
Hair in the mask is a very common cause of leaks. If you’re not wearing a hood, make sure you don’t have stray bits of hair in the mask. Tie back long hair and clear hair away from your face when putting on your mask.
Long fringes/bangs can cause leaks. A French plait/braid is one way around this.
Facial hair is a big culprit. Many men are forced to choose between shaving their moustache to have a less leaky dive or keeping it and tolerating a watery vision. Trimming the hair that makes contact with the mask may work and is a less drastic solution.
For men who are determined to keep their facial hair, there are various remedies. Silicon gel/salve applied to the moustache before the dive is a common one. Avoid petroleum-based products like Vaseline as they can break down silicon.
There are two types of people when it comes to masks and purge valves – those who love it and those who hate it. The purge valve is a built-in feature that allows easier clearing/draining of the water from the mask. For fans, it makes clearing easier. For non-fans, the purge valve is just one more unnecessary addition that could malfunction.
Personally, I’ve never owned a mask with a purge valve and I don’t think the old fashioned clearing method is so bad.
No such thing as a waterproof mask
I’m convinced you will never have a perfectly sealed mask (not in my lifetime anyways). There will always be small quantities of water entering the mask. With some experience, you get used to it.
Actions such as moving your face around – will create a bit of a leak.
Make sure you are comfortable with mask clearing and removal skills. They are important.
A bit of water shouldn’t spoil the fun. Choose the right mask, practice good diving habits and you can have safe and enjoyable dives.