Despite being the sturdiest among all your dive equipment, scuba tanks are not indestructible after all.
After years of trusty service, your old scuba tank kind of becomes your informal dive buddy (relax your actual dive bro won’t be jealous). But at some point, you have to say goodbye, and deciding what to do with outdated scuba tanks isn’t always straightforward. Don’t just let your old tanks collect dust in the garage or succumb to the dump. Give them a proper send-off with one of the 6 purposeful ideas listed in this article. Keep reading.
Table of Contents
- 1 5 Obvious Signs that Your Scuba Tank Needs Replacing
- 2 How Much Can Selling Your Old Scuba Tank Fetch You?
- 3 Why You Can’t Just Throw Your Old Dive Tanks Away
- 4 How Do You Dispose of Old Scuba Tanks? 5 Ways You Can Put Them To Good Use
- 5 Try Not to Throw It Away
5 Obvious Signs that Your Scuba Tank Needs Replacing
If you have an old tank that’s lying around and gathering dust here are 5 signs you should look for to determine if your tank has reached the end of its lifespan:
- Extreme Corrosion: Scuba Tanks are prone to getting rusty on a small scale both on the exterior and interior with use and they can be generally removed with proper measures like tumbling. But if you notice extreme corrosion on your scuba tank, it is a clear indication that it is old and needs to be replaced. Severe corrosion can weaken the metal of the tank and make it more likely to fail.
- Dents and dings: After taking so much saltwater beatings your tanks are bound to have structural damage (be it material thinning, porous or rusty surface, etc). If you notice too many indentations or rust spots on your tank, it’s probably time to put your old buddy to rest.
- Leakage: If your tank is leaking air or you notice any hissing sounds when filling your tank, this could be a sign of your scuba tank not being able to hold pressure or some form of structural damage.
- Age: Scuba tanks have a long lifespan, and the older they get, the more likely they are to fail. Most tanks are designed to last for about 18-20 years when properly serviced, after which they should be replaced.
- It’s Failing Inspections: Scuba tanks need to be visually and hydrostatically inspected regularly to ensure they are still in good condition. If your tank fails a visual inspection, it is time to replace it.
How Much Can Selling Your Old Scuba Tank Fetch You?
The value of an old scuba tank can vary depending on several factors such as the age, condition, brand, and type of tank. The best way to determine the value of an old scuba tank is to have it inspected and appraised by a professional dive shop or a certified tank inspector.
As a rough estimate, a used scuba tank can be worth anywhere from $30 at your local scrapyard to $300 on eBay, depending on its condition and age. Older steel tanks or tanks that are out of hydro testing may be worth less than newer aluminum tanks that have recently passed hydro testing.
Why You Can’t Just Throw Your Old Dive Tanks Away
You can’t just chuck your old tank in the local dumpster. Scuba tanks are predominantly made of either steel or aluminum are classified as household hazardous waste, and can be quite dangerous if not handled properly.
Apart from that, when compressed air is stored in a scuba tank, it creates a significant amount of pressure. If the tank is not properly emptied and depressurized before disposal, it can become a projectile due to temperature changes that could seriously injure someone. Scuba tank explosions aren’t unlikely either.
Additionally, if the tank is not properly disposed of, it will take a few hundred years for that metal to decompose!
Besides, improper disposal of a scuba tank will land you in legal trouble in many areas.
How Do You Dispose of Old Scuba Tanks? 5 Ways You Can Put Them To Good Use
There are several safe and innovative ways you can put your old scuba tanks to good use. The option of selling/scraping them is still there if you’re desperate.
1. Donate Your Old Tank
If your old scuba tank is decommissioned you may consider cutting it in half vertically and donating it to your local diving center or a dive instructor as a teaching aid. I’ve found a lot of beginner diving enthusiasts to be quite eager to see the interior of a scuba tank to better see the inner wall coatings and thickness. Your tank might become the perfect solution to quench their curiosity.
2. Repurpose Your Old Scuba Tanks
A great way to pay the last rites for your old buddy. There are many creative ways to repurpose old scuba tanks, and some of them are quite artistic. One popular option is to turn them into unique lighting fixtures. By cutting off the top and bottom of the tank and adding a light source inside, you can create a striking conversation piece for any room.
Another great idea is to transform them into outdoor planters or large bell chimes. The sturdy metal construction of scuba tanks makes them perfect for holding plants and with a little bit of imagination and creativity, you can make some truly eye-catching designs.
I repurposed my old steel 72 into a portable barbeque grill by following a DIY YouTube guide and that baby grills my steak flawlessly to this day!
3. Refurbish and Sell Them
If your old scuba tanks are still functional, but they need a little TLC, you can refurbish and flip them for a decent profit. Refurbishing will involve minor changes such as replacing the valve, burst disc, or the O-rings and repainting the tank.
Just a little bit of tweaking and refurbishing on your end can turn your old scuba tank from a piece of obsolete metal chunk to a usable one real quick. Additionally, make sure to check the inspection markings on your tank (both VIP and Hydrostatic). If they were done in the last 2-3 years you can expect a fair price by selling your tank.
4. Return Your Old Tanks to the Manufacturer
Some scuba tank manufacturers offer recycling or disposal programs for their old products. These programs are designed to help customers dispose of their old tanks responsibly while also providing them with the opportunity to purchase new products. Contact the manufacturer or your local dive shop to inquire about their recycling or disposal program and learn about the process for returning your old scuba tanks. Some dive shops even award you a discount on a new tank for bringing in your old one.
5. Recycle/Scrape Your Tank
It’s an environment-friendly method of disposal. Regardless, I don’t prefer this method of disposal. If you’re a diver you’d know where I’m coming from. Over time, a scuba tank becomes more than just equipment; it becomes your trusted companion on countless underwater adventures. Sending your old companion to get melted or shredded at some scrapyard for a few bucks isn’t the sayonara it deserves.
If you do plan to scrape your old tank make sure to remove the brass valve as it can still be serviceable and is generally valuable. You can expect to salvage around $25-$30 for scraping your aluminum tank and even less for steel tanks.
6. Use It for Shallow Freshwater Dives
If your old scuba tank is structurally sound and has passed VIP as well as hydrostatic inspections, instead of discarding it you can turn your old tank into your freshwater-exclusive dive tank. Freshwater diving differs a lot from Saltwater dives and is usually shallower. Additionally, the absence of salt in such water bodies leads to a lesser degree of corrosion of your old steel or aluminum tank.
Try Not to Throw It Away
I am a hoarder when it comes to my old diving equipment be it my ancient weight harness or my decades-old steel dive tank. I’m also an old nerd about DIY craft projects so I generally put my old equipment to good use this way. Hey, at least it’s better than carelessly disposing of your old stuff in the open and contributing to environmental damage right?
Old scuba tanks can be recycled, scrapped, donated, repurposed, refurbished, sold, or returned to the manufacturer. The most appropriate option will depend on the condition of the tank and your personal preference. Regardless of which option you choose, it’s essential to dispose of your old scuba tanks as a responsible diver to protect the environment and avoid potential hazards.