A leaking mask during a dive can be frustrating and annoying. You’ll have to constantly stop to clear the water that seeping in which can also cause new divers to panic. Even the best scuba diving mask can leak. A small leak can mean that the silicone seal has split or become damaged or there is something interfering with the mask making a proper seal. Learning how to prevent your diving mask from leaking will save you a lot of frustration and worry, especially if you’re a new diver. In some cases, you’ll need to replace the damaged mask, while in other cases you’ll will find that by following the tips of included here you can easily fix your mask and prevent leaks in the future.
The Right Fit
If your mask is too big or too small, then you’ll need to upgrade and swap out your current mask for one that fits properly. A good scuba dive mask will gently hug your face and will not pinch the skin, leave marks, or leak.
Move the strap on the mask over the front so that it’s out of your way as you hold the mask against your face gently and ensure that there is no hair or anything interfering under the skirt. Inhale gently through your nose. If the mask remains in place and there’s no air leaking, then it should be the right fit. Make sure that the mask skirt is resting evenly against the skin all along the edges. Facial hair can interfere with a good seal so you may want to consider shaving at this time. Make sure that you can equalize without affecting the seal. To learn more, click here to read my guide on how to equalize pressure when diving.
It’s important that you try on a lot of masks before you make your final selection in order to get a feel for different sizes and styles and to pinpoint which type of mask will offer the most comfort and the best fit.
Aside from being uncomfortable to wear, a mask that doesn’t fit well will constantly flood, which can be very scary and stressful for the beginner. Because of this, learning how to clear a flooded mask before your first dive, will be very important.
What Else Can Interfere with a Mask’s Seal?
Even the smallest objects can have a negative impact on the seal between the mask and your skin. Just a few strands of hair or some sand found under the neoprene hood or skirt can be just enough to allow a centrifugal of water to find its way inside the mask. If the mask you use comes equipped with a purge valve, then even a few grains of sand can affect the seal.
When you’re adjusting your mask, make sure that you carefully brush your hair out of the way and run a finger around the edge of the skirt to ensure that nothing is interfering with the seal. You can also have a friend take a look to ensure there’s nothing blocking the seal before you hit the water.
Some masks may leak because the strap is adjusted too tightly. You can easily tell if you accidentally adjusted the mask too tightly once you remove it and notice an impression on your skin.
Mask skirts feature a delicate construction that’s designed to hold a mask frame and lens in place correctly in relation to the eyes in addition to orienting with the skirt for a tight seal against the skin. If you accidentally over tighten the strap it can cause place too much pressure on the face and can cause the skin to crinkle. This can result in a compromised sealing surface that will create creases, allowing water to trickle in.
Remember how you checked the mask to ensure it fit correctly? That process is completed without adjusting a strap. The strap is not used to help increase the efficiency of a seal, it’s simply there to prevent the mask from moving. Make sure that you make adjustments to the mask strap so that it holds the frame against your skin comfortably with no free movement.
Shaving can Help
Men with facial hair often have issues getting the skirt to seal properly. Unfortunately, skirts aren’t designed to deal with facial hair which causes the skirt to be pushed away from the face, which allows water to come in.
You’ll come across some models of masks that are equipped with skirts that feature different levels of thickness. Some models will have an ultra-thin skirt that’s very flexible and designed to improve the seal in trouble areas located below the nose. These are usually the best choices for men with facial hair. However, my scuba instructors encourage men to shave in order to prevent any issues. For a quick fix, you can also try using a little silicone grease or Vaseline to help fill the gaps that the skirt can’t handle. However, it’s important to keep in mind that any type of petroleum-based products can have an impact on the integrity of silicone over time.
Spend More on a High-Quality Mask
Fortunately, masks are one of the most affordable items in your diving kit. Spending more can give you a better-quality mask that will last season after season. A diving mask is pricier than an average snorkeling mask because it’s made from more durable materials. Usually, the skirt of the mask is where most of the cost difference and quality will come into play. A skirt on a mask refers to the flexible part that fits your face and connects to the faceplate. Most skirts are made out of silicone. Higher-quality silicone offers improved flexibility which will allow the silicone to mold gently to your skin. Medical grade is the best quality silicone, followed by food-grade. If your mask isn’t made out of medical or food-grade silicone, then poor quality materials can be to blame for a mask that has trouble forming a good seal.
Cleaning and Maintaining Your Mask
If cared for properly, your mask can last for years. Storing your mask properly will also be important. Be sure to keep your mask stored out of directly sunlight, since bright light can degrade the mask’s materials over time. After a dive, make sure that the mask is soaked in fresh water. If possible, try to rinse your mask and between dives. Inspect the mask after each dive to ensure it’s clean and pay close attention to any areas under the inside seal looking for sand, salt, or debris. Also, be sure to check the nose pockets where the faceplate and skirt attaches. Once the mask is free of debris, then take a microfiber cloth and dry it thoroughly. During this time, it’s also important that you inspect the mask for any damage or tears in a seal.
By learning how to prevent your dive mask from leaking, you can lengthen its lifespan, ensure you enjoy your time out in the water, and avoid any issues with the seal of your mask failing, during a dive. Remember, when shopping for a mask, it’s important that you size it properly, since an ill-fitting mask will be unable to achieve a tight seal. The day of your dive closely inspect the mask and look for dirt, debris, or anything that can interfere with the seal. Also have a friend give your mask a visual inspection once it’s on to make sure that no hair is caught in the seal, which can lead to water trickling in during a dive. By following the tips I’ve included here you should enjoy a fun, hassle-free diving experience, your next time in the ocean, using a mask that fits comfortably and won’t leak.