By Chris Gabel
If you’re looking for that light inspection mask that feels familiar, the Guardian Mask may be the option for you.
The Guardian should look relatively familiar as there are others on the market with a similar look. Take for instance the Interspiro Aga (I know, Interspiro calls it the Divator mask, but old habits die hard) mask. So the concept of the Guardian shouldn’t feel, look, or dive foreign. The second stage is right up front and under the faceplate where you would expect it. You’ll notice that the supply line is on the diver’s right. A deviation from the Aga. The communications port is also located on the divers right just aft of the second stage.
The regulator gets inserted in to the front of the mask without spinning or tightening up any screws. It clicks into place and is released by depressing the red button located inside the mask and to the divers left. A clever setup. If it doesn’t click in, then the retaining mechanism is damaged, dirty, or misaligned. The second stage, by its nature, has a slight positive pressure when the second stage loads. A little air pressure is a good thing. It allows for water to stay out if the seal is only slightly compromised. Another feature to note is that, like some others in this category, this full face mask face plate is self clearing. This means no squirting stuff on to the face plate.
The mask comes equipped with several versions of a nose clearing block to allow for different faces to clear in comfort and not have to adapt the face to the mask.
The mask skirt/seal is a double seal. What the primary seal misses, the secondary seal takes up. Make sure that the seals are clean and not torn in any way.
One safety note, like other full face masks, one thing to be aware of is if you invert this mask (feet over head) the mask can flood. That’s no different than other masks. The air pressure comes from the second stage and (surprise) rises. If you go inverted, the air still rises but instead of ending up around your face, it goes to your chin. Should it flood, de-watering the mask is simple. Just return to the upright position and depress the purge button and all will be well again with the world.
One of the things that you’ll notice is that the Guardian full face mask is equipped with an ambient breathing valve. You can’t miss it; it’s the big cylindrical looking thing that’s attached to the face plate. It’s the same kind of valve that you may have seen on the Aga in the past. It’s open on the surface to allow air to enter the mask without having to waste your back gas or surface supply air. Before descending, make sure that you check the o-ring on the ABV (Ambient Breathing Valve) and screw the assembly closed or you’re going to have some water in your mask. Make sure that the valve is free from debris.
The second stage should look and feel relatively familiar. The second stage is close enough in design and feel to the AGA that maneuvering around the internal components should feel very familiar but you should have proper training before disassembling it.
OK, that said, let’s move on to the other side of the second stage. The supply side has a pretty beefy locking nut that keeps the connection nipple and internal regulator components in place.
The oral nasal is, well, an oral nasal. It’s equipped with a one way valve so that exhaled breathe can only go to the exhaust valve and not back through the mask. That said, air from inside the face plate area can go in to the oral nasal but not the other way around. Now that we’ve cleared that up please remember to thoroughly clean the oral nasal after each dive or at the very least after each day of diving. I have seen things grow in oral nasal masks that would curl the toes of the most seasoned doctors at the CDC. Make sure that the inside of the channel of the mask gets cleaned and dried fully before stowing. There are several products out there that will do the job. One of my personal favorites is Sanizide. That stuff kills about everything. Make sure that you read the directions fully before use.
As for cleaning the rest of the mask, use clean fresh water. You can add a mild (I SAID MILD) detergent. Make sure that you rinse thoroughly. Again, the mask needs to be dry before stowing it in the dive locker.
Servicing should be approached like any other full face mask out on the market today. You should at the very least have it serviced annually by a qualified and certified technician. That’s at the very least.
As with any piece of dive gear, thoroughly read the manufactures manual and be properly trained to use the gear you wear. Periodically visit the manufactures web site for any important information that may pertain to your device.
As always, dive safe.
Email your commercial diving equipment maintenance or repair questions to Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org