Buoyancy Control Scuba Diving Tips: 

Keep Level and Achieve Neutral Buoyancy

If you are having trouble staying steady underwater, try these buoyancy control scuba diving tips.

It can be frustrating if you are always adding air or letting air out of your BC. We have all been there and can relate. 

Fiddling with your BC can also take some of the pleasure out of the dive since you are preoccupied trying to stay at the proper depth. No to mention adversely affecting your air consumption.

A neutrally buoyant scuba diver

Looking neutrally buoyant in this picture. You can get there too.

If that's not enough for you, DAN (Divers Alert Network) states that "Diving incident reports often cite overweighting and/or poor buoyancy control as a contributory factor to, or a factor associated with, accidents or near accidents."

So what can you do improve your buoyancy control and get neutrally buoyant? Try these:

Buoyancy Control Scuba Diving Tips

  • Use the Proper Weight

  • Most beginning scuba divers are overweighted. This will generally cause more use of the buoyancy compensator inflater as you change depth.
    If you are wearing a wetsuit you will also become less buoyant as you descend (see below). With these factors, the needed adjustments to your BC to maintain proper buoyancy are magnified.

    So what is the proper weight? The most common answer is when you are on the surface, you should be at eye level with the water with no air in your BC.

    However, this is with a full tank. 

 Using the proper amount of weight is key to buoyancy control.

    As you use up your air, your scuba tank will become positively buoyant. This is especially important at your 15 foot safety stop because if you use the above method, you will be underweighted and will begin floating toward the surface.

    If you can't get a near empty tank to test your buoyancy at the surface, you should be a little negatively buoyant at the surface with a full tank and no air in your BC and your lungs half-full.

    This does not mean to put 5 extra lbs. on your weight belt. A safe bet is to put 1-2 lbs. extra on and go from there.

    Your goal is to be neutrally buoyant at your 15 foot safety stop. This method is also cited in articles on DAN's website (Divers Alert Network, a non-profit organization that provides emergency medical advice and assistance for underwater diving injuries).

    So at your safety stop with no air in your BC, if you are motionless (concentrate on that!) and you start ascending, your are underweighted. Conversely, if you are sinking, you are overweighted. Make adjustments in 1-2 lb. increments on your next dive.

Scuba diver suiting up
  • Be Patient and Do it in Small Increments

  • If you add or release air from your BC, give it time to take effect. It will not be instantaneous. If you don't give it a bit of time, you will have the tendency to overinflate (or deflate). Several seconds should be sufficient.

    Also, just give the BC a short shot (or release) of air. See if that is sufficient. If not, you can always add more. You do not want to overinflate - or vice-versa.

  • Remember the Effects of Your Wetsuit  
  • If you are wearing a scuba diving wetsuit, it will become less buoyant as you descend. As it becomes wet and the bubbles in the wetsuit compress from the pressure, the suit will lose buoyancy.

    You may think you are underweighted at this point but wait until you a down for a bit before you decide - especially if you are unfamiliar with the affects of your wetsuit.

    In addition, over time your wetsuit will lose some of its buoyancy as the bubbles break down. Unfortunately, it also means it will lose some of its insulation effectiveness.

  • Empty Your BC

    If you feel you are underweighted, make sure your BC is empty of all air. Sometimes air bubbles can get trapped inside, the effect of which will be magnified as you ascend.
  • Some buoyancy control tips to get the last of the air out of your BC:

  1. Hold the inflator hose straight up while pressing the release button.
  2. Do a little wiggle dance and see if any air escapes.(Hopefully no one will see you!)
  3. Hold the right side of your BC against your body and tilt a little to the right.
  4. Go upside down and pull the dump valve on the bottom of your BC.
  5. Roll backwards a little and give a little shake.

  • Stay Horizontal

  • You should be horizontal in the water so your kicks propel you forward and not upward. You may have to adjust where your weights are to accomplish this. It is also a function of experience, so be patient. More buoyancy control scuba diving tips:
  • Breath Control

  • Don't forget the air in your lungs. Do not hold your breath - which you know already. Besides being dangerous, it will give you extra buoyancy.

    Eventually you will get to the point where you can ascend or descend a few feet solely by breathing in or out. Yes, it will happen. Which brings me to the last of the buoyancy control scuba diving tips:

  • Dive, Dive and Dive Some More

  • Like all scuba diving skills, the more you practice them, the easier it will be. Once you get enough dives under your belt, relax under water and have experience with the weight you need, you will be diving without even giving scuba diving buoyancy a second thought.

Hopefully these buoyancy control tips will help you with any problems you may have. Believe it or not, after enough diving, you won't even be thinking about buoyancy control. So relax and enjoy and practice these buoyancy control scuba diving tips, you will soon be neutrally buoyant.

(Since you are reading about buoyancy control, I will give you a heads up here. In the "Diving Tips Cheatsheet" which you can get below, one of the bonuses I refer to has to do with buoyancy control.  You don't want to miss it.)

For even more in-depth tips on attaining neutral buoyancy, check out our Special Report "Stop The Elevator Ride". Click here for all the details.

And here are more of our scuba diving tips you can check out:

Quick Video Tips on Air Consumption

Quick Video Tips on Buoyancy Control

Air Consumption Tips

Boat Diving Tips

Be Confident, Not Intimidated, On The Dive Boat

Night Diving Tips

Ear Clearing Tips

Tips For Tipping The Crew

Tips For Packing Your Gear

Click Here for a Complete List of all our Scuba Diving Tips

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