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Old 20-09-2020, 05:02   #1
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Replacing Inflatable Life Jacket - Frequency?

How often should one relace ones inflatable PFD, if ever? I've had mine forever, but I blow it up and replace the cylinder every few yearss.

Thank you for your input,

Regards,
Ron
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Old 20-09-2020, 05:30   #2
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Re: Replacing Inflatable PDF? - Frequency?

Keep it up until you spot a weakness or it leaks. I'd replace mine if I saw chaffing on the fabric of the inflatable part, or cracking of the plastic lining. You may be introducing moisture if you inflate by mouth.

The regular replacement of the baking soda doughnut is important - the stuff cakes up and slows down inflation. The first time I used mine it inflated so fast that my hearing aids didn't get wet. The second time, I was counting seconds before it went whooop.

I guess what's most important is wearing it.
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Old 20-09-2020, 05:36   #3
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Re: Replacing Inflatable PDF? - Frequency?

I don't use the automatic inflatable option any more. I twice was working the foredeck in weather and got hit by a big splash and the vest inflated. Fortunately I had spare cylinders aboard.
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Old 20-09-2020, 05:44   #4
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Re: Replacing Inflatable PDF? - Frequency?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roniszoro View Post
I don't use the automatic inflatable option any more. I twice was working the foredeck in weather and got hit by a big splash and the vest inflated. Fortunately I had spare cylinders aboard.
If you use the inflator that uses water pressure, you should not have this problem. It will only inflate if you are immersed in the water.
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Old 20-09-2020, 08:51   #5
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Re: Replacing Inflatable PDF? - Frequency?

Keep it inflated for 24 hours and replace if it leaks.

On a related topic, I just replaced my cartridges a couple of weeks ago and one spontaneously inflated while sitting in the V berth where I put it the day before.

First time that happened to me. Perhaps I screwed the cartridge on too tight? Any other ideas what might do that? Is that a sign the PFD needs replacing?
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Old 20-09-2020, 08:52   #6
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Re: Replacing Inflatable PDF? - Frequency?

What is a PDF?
Personal Device Floating?
Or are you referring to PDF computer files?
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Old 20-09-2020, 09:00   #7
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Re: Replacing Inflatable PDF? - Frequency?

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Originally Posted by taxwizz View Post
What is a PDF?
Personal Device Floating?
Or are you referring to PDF computer files?
"PDF" means "Portable Document Format," a type of computer file created by Adobe.

"PFD" means "Personal Flotation Device" and when sailors transpose the letters we usually know what they mean.
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Old 20-09-2020, 09:04   #8
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Re: Replacing Inflatable PDF? - Frequency?

"Keep it inflated for 24 hours and replace if it leaks.

SV Grace, that's a really good suggestion. Sort of a recurring recertification test, like onto a live raft. I'll do that the next time the little doughnut needs replacing, if I don't fall in the drink before then.
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Old 20-09-2020, 09:23   #9
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Re: Replacing Inflatable PDF? - Frequency?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SV__Grace View Post
Keep it inflated for 24 hours and replace if it leaks.

On a related topic, I just replaced my cartridges a couple of weeks ago and one spontaneously inflated while sitting in the V berth where I put it the day before.

First time that happened to me. Perhaps I screwed the cartridge on too tight? Any other ideas what might do that? Is that a sign the PFD needs replacing?
This happens more often that people think, and it is very possible that the inflatable life vest is fine. It is unlikely that you screwed the cartridge in too tight. If your inflatable life jacket is the type that uses a bobbin (as opposed to a manual or hydrostatic) you need to inspect the bobbin. Often it absorbs moisture and eventually will fail, leading to inflation.

When was the last time you replaced the bobbin? In theory, they are good for three years but it is the condition that is really important. I tell people to pull it and drop it a foot (roughly 30cm) onto a table. If you see specs of white, or worse, chunks, it is no good regardless of how new it is.

The bobbin is designed to dissolve in water and will absorb water over time. When people put their boat on the hard, they often leave the PFDs charged with the bobbin in it. It will absorb moisture especially if it is in a humid environment.
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Old 20-09-2020, 09:27   #10
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Re: Replacing Inflatable PDF? - Frequency?

[QUOTE=SV__Grace;3237190]Keep it inflated for 24 hours and replace if it leaks.



I do this at the start of every year. Mustang says that the trigger "doughnuts" should be replaced annually. I also inspect mine for abrasion or any other signs of wear when I do the inflation test.
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Old 20-09-2020, 09:36   #11
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Re: Replacing Inflatable PDF? - Frequency?

[QUOTE=Andreas W;3237094]If you use the inflator that uses water pressure, you should not have this problem. It will only inflate if you are immersed in the water.[/QUOT

Commercially the vests must be replaced every five years. They have a date stamped on the
Recreational vests are not date and do not have a requirement for inspection.

Hydrostatic units in particular are subject to internal corrosion among other problems and are therefore possibly more opportune to fail.
But the same really goes for any of the units. Materials used are not subject to quality controls so delamination will not show until under pressure, corroded firing pins, all kinds of mechanical opportunities to go wrong.
So if asking yourself if you are feeling lucky this month on an older piece of equipment never needed or maybe get a foam style flotation device. They auto float without any mechanical assistance.
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Old 20-09-2020, 09:39   #12
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Re: Replacing Inflatable PDF? - Frequency?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roniszoro View Post
I don't use the automatic inflatable option any more. I twice was working the foredeck in weather and got hit by a big splash and the vest inflated. Fortunately I had spare cylinders aboard.
Switch to a Hammer sensor. They need at least 6 inches of water presure to activate.
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Old 20-09-2020, 09:53   #13
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Re: Replacing Inflatable PDF? - Frequency?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ArmyDaveNY View Post
This happens more often that people think, and it is very possible that the inflatable life vest is fine. It is unlikely that you screwed the cartridge in too tight. If your inflatable life jacket is the type that uses a bobbin (as opposed to a manual or hydrostatic) you need to inspect the bobbin. Often it absorbs moisture and eventually will fail, leading to inflation.

When was the last time you replaced the bobbin? In theory, they are good for three years but it is the condition that is really important. I tell people to pull it and drop it a foot (roughly 30cm) onto a table. If you see specs of white, or worse, chunks, it is no good regardless of how new it is.

The bobbin is designed to dissolve in water and will absorb water over time. When people put their boat on the hard, they often leave the PFDs charged with the bobbin in it. It will absorb moisture especially if it is in a humid environment.
In this case it was a brand new bobbin that came as a set with the cartridge.

It was an off brand I got from Amazon, so might have been cheaply made or defective or stored improperly. Good argument for having a few on hand and changing them more often!
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Old 20-09-2020, 13:01   #14
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Re: Replacing Inflatable PDF? - Frequency?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roniszoro View Post
How often should one relace ones inflatable PDF, if ever? I've had mine forever, but I blow it up and replace the cylinder every few yearss.

Thank you for your input,

Regards,
Ron
The key thing is to check it every spring time. Inflate it and see if it holds pressure. At the same time look for any abrasion areas and inspect carefully. Then check the date on the cartridge. Check for any signs of aluminum oxidation. Check if the green tab is still intact. If any of the inspection is bad, ask yourself how much you have to depend on this to save yourself? Then if all is good, reassemble and store it in a vented bag to dry until the next time you wear it. Always store in a bag with your name on it. Do not let anyone else wear this as this your PERSONAL floatation device. WHY? I was showing a class an automatic self inflating PFD and when I took it apart, I noticed the cartridge was punctured and the inflatable needed a re-arming kit to make it operational again. The friend I borrowed it from had no clue that his inflatable was non operational. False sense of security. In addition never wear this inflatable under a sweater or jacket as it might crush you if inflated...
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Old 20-09-2020, 13:19   #15
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Re: Replacing Inflatable PDF? - Frequency?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SV__Grace View Post
Keep it inflated for 24 hours and replace if it leaks.. . .

You should do this at least once a year with all of your flotation devices.


It would ruin your whole day (and possibly life) if you went overboard and it didn't hold air.


They do leak -- I've got several leaks during my checks. Sometimes the seams start to come undone. Sometimes the bladder gets pricked by something. This is really worth doing a couple times a year, actually! It's really easy to do.
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