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tobbe1

Leaking Nauticam housing

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Hi!

I have been using Nauticam housings since 2012, and my current one (A7II) since 2016. Two weeks ago I was doing some photography in an old mine. On the first dive I had no problems, but on the second one (i did not open the housing in between) the leak sensor was going red after 20 minutes, 37 meter down and soon I could see the water filling up the dome port. I kept the dome port downwards and the canon 8-15 lens was partly under water. The lens was fine, but unfortunately the camera display was dead.

The only thing that was new is an extension ring to fit the canon lens (instead of my Sigma 15 that I used before), but I did an 40 meter 80 minute dive with this setup some days before without any problems.

Afterwards I checked all O-rings, cleaned and used greased before checking vacuum for 24 hours before the next dive with my spare camera. However the exact same scenario happened. After about 20 minutes at 32 meters the alarm went off again, but this time i called the dive more quickly and could save the camera and lens.

Does anyone have a clue whats going on here? It's really hard to find out when the vacuum check is all OK before diving.

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Oh mercy, how upsetting is that. Worse part, apart from the costs involved,  is how it undermines your confidence in your gear. Not good.

Which vacuum valve is it?

 

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Try to do a short dive with empty housing filled with grey paper towels (green are good also, white towels are not good). You could submerge housing using line and weigths of course. There will be wet marks on paper in leaking place.

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1 hour ago, TimG said:

Oh mercy, how upsetting is that. Worse part, apart from the costs involved,  is how it undermines your confidence in your gear. Not good.

Which vacuum valve is it?

 

Hi Tim, it's the vacuum valve M14 #25611
Yes, the worst thing is that I cant trust the thing and don't know what to replace first, because I cannot reproduce the error without diving.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, pmk said:

Try to do a short dive with empty housing filled with grey paper towels (green are good also, white towels are not good). You could submerge housing using line and weigths of course. There will be wet marks on paper in leaking place.

Yes, I thought about that option to use a line, but the issue could be when using one of the buttons. I have tried to push every button with vacuum on land, but no alarm triggered.

It would be great if I had access to a hyperbaric chamber ;)

Edited by tobbe1

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It would need to be something that was moving I think - to be able to disturb the seal on the o-ring or you say the extension ring was new?  and failed on the second dive?  I would be looking at that first of all - suggest you examine that closely checking the o-ring seating surfaces, does it take the same force to insert the extension in the housing and to seat the extension in the dome as the dome by itself in the housing?  You are trying to make sure it was made properly and the seating surfaces for the o-ring are correct - nice and smooth without sharp edges.  Prior to using the new extension have you used extension rings on other ports?  The installation method is twist and turn so a little different than just installing a port.

Examine your port, extension and main housing o-rings closely using magnification looking for damage - surfaces should be perfectly smooth- there will be a small flap from the moulding but this is normal.  It should look round with no flat spots.

First thing I think to do would be to weight the housing so it will sink and test it for longer periods in a tub.  The vacuum by itself should load the o-rings and be equivalent to about 2m depth  Even at this depth the closing force on the ports is significant - something like 16kg and it would be difficult to move them.  Have you tested the moisture alarm is still working?

On the buttons and controls I would expect that you use a handful of those buttons during most dives - the on-off switch, shutter release, back button AF, image review and zoom knob would be the main ones submerge the housing and come back every 20-30 minutes and use them all.   You could try pumping harder on the vacuum to increase the differential pressure as well.

I have a hard time of thinking anything would change by getting deeper apart from the leakage rate.  If o-rings are in their groove properly then they should just be pushed in harder to their seating surface.  Be systematic and keep notes of what you do.  If a button is the culprit it should leak when pressed at low pressure.  The other thing that is odd is that by your report there is no leak then it starts to leak and keeps leaking - I can't think of an explanation for this. 

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Send it in for service. You'll get all new orings for buttons, and a pressure test to certify it.

After frying a camera, I would not dive that housing again with out a full service. At 4-5 years old it clearly is past due.

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Posted (edited)

I have been using a nauticam housing for the 7D for a few years now. Each time after a dive trip it is soaked for close to 48 hours. Post that, heres where it gets interesting, I use a 100% silicone shock oil (something like this http://www.muchmoreracing.net/product_view.php?pidx=959 ) to grease all the buttons from the outside as also from INSIDE. 

Last year I had a bad leak and lost my camera and 100 mm lens, BUT GUESS WHAT, the salt water due to extensive and regular lubrication, did no damage inside at all. The grease kept the water out. 

Having learnt my lesson, post that I use a leak sentinel now. 

Just thought I should share this, as it really helps to keep your housing safe from the inside in case of a leak. 

Disclaimer: If the o rings (and they are usually not) are not the black ones for the buttons, please refrain from using. 

 

Diggy

Edited by diggy

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5 hours ago, diggy said:

...Disclaimer: If the o rings (and they are usually not) are not the black ones for the buttons, please refrain from using. 

Just a comment on your disclaimer: most of the internal (hidden) O-rings of Nauticam housings are grey, not black. E.g. the O-rings of all the push button axles and rotary axles are grey. 

I have no information of whether the oil you suggest, is compatible or not with any of the O-rings. Although O-rings generally speaking are very strong, I have seen cracked, clipped, torn and softened O-rings as a result of extreme weather, misuse, chemical misuse, and wear/tear.

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2 hours ago, r4e said:

Just a comment on your disclaimer: most of the internal (hidden) O-rings of Nauticam housings are grey, not black. E.g. the O-rings of all the push button axles and rotary axles are grey. 

I have no information of whether the oil you suggest, is compatible or not with any of the O-rings. Although O-rings generally speaking are very strong, I have seen cracked, clipped, torn and softened O-rings as a result of extreme weather, misuse, chemical misuse, and wear/tear.

100% agree.

I would not use silicon grease on Nauticam housing o-rings. 

The Nauticam o-ring lubricant is something like Oxygen compatible lubricant or PTFE grease. Silicone grease is not compatible with silicone o-rings. I would stick with manufacturer's instructions.

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15 hours ago, ChrisRoss said:

does it take the same force to insert the extension in the housing and to seat the extension in the dome as the dome by itself in the housing? 
- Yes, it feels normal

Prior to using the new extension have you used extension rings on other ports? 
- Yes, I have used a longer one for my Sony 16-35 WA

Examine your port, extension and main housing o-rings closely using magnification looking for damage - surfaces should be perfectly smooth- there will be a small flap from the moulding but this is normal.  It should look round with no flat spots.
- They all look normal as far as I can see

Have you tested the moisture alarm is still working?
- Yes, It still works

Be systematic and keep notes of what you do.  If a button is the culprit it should leak when pressed at low pressure.  The other thing that is odd is that by your report there is no leak then it starts to leak and keeps leaking - I can't think of an explanation for this. 

- Will do! Thanks for you suggestions.

 

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15 hours ago, davehicks said:

Send it in for service. You'll get all new orings for buttons, and a pressure test to certify it.

After frying a camera, I would not dive that housing again with out a full service. At 4-5 years old it clearly is past due.

That would probably be the best option, but it would take some time (and cost). I'm considering buying a used or even new housing if I can't trace the leak.

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10 hours ago, diggy said:

I have been using a nauticam housing for the 7D for a few years now. Each time after a dive trip it is soaked for close to 48 hours. Post that, heres where it gets interesting, I use a 100% silicone shock oil (something like this http://www.muchmoreracing.net/product_view.php?pidx=959 ) to grease all the buttons from the outside as also from INSIDE. 

Last year I had a bad leak and lost my camera and 100 mm lens, BUT GUESS WHAT, the salt water due to extensive and regular lubrication, did no damage inside at all. The grease kept the water out. 

Having learnt my lesson, post that I use a leak sentinel now. 

Just thought I should share this, as it really helps to keep your housing safe from the inside in case of a leak. 

Disclaimer: If the o rings (and they are usually not) are not the black ones for the buttons, please refrain from using. 

 

Diggy

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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I agree with ChrisRoss - always suspect the last thing you changed before the problem started.

What I'm wondering is whether or not the new ring is deforming under pressure at 32m? This is only 104 feet, and should be well within the limits of the equipment, but it's always possible some minor flaw might be causing the sealing surface to shift enough to leak.

I think the best test is the paper towel in the empty (weighted) housing on a dive to the same depth.

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Paper towel in the empty housing is the way to go. If it's some button or some other command, you have to try to use them underwater.

Usually flooding happens within a few feet. O-rings are made to work under pressure. The greater the pressure the better the oring works. This is why vacuum systems work with minimal negative pressure: just enough to make the oring work in its seat.

P.S.

Nevertheless, years ago I had a lot of problems with a housing that flooded only after 60 meters depth. After several floods and tests, I realized that the manufacturer, after a maintenance, had mounted an oring of wrong section (Hate the sin,Love the sinner). In that case, once a certain pressure was exceeded, the oring was displaced from its seat. But this is certainly not the case.

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2 hours ago, tobbe1 said:

That would probably be the best option, but it would take some time (and cost). I'm considering buying a used or even new housing if I can't trace the leak.

Hi Tobbe.

Much cheaper to send it to service than to buy a used or new housing. And besides that, if the problem is on the new extension, the purchase of another housing does not solve your problem.

To have it serviced, send the full equipment (housing, extension and port), and explain the problem you had, so the service provider can put some more attention in finding and solving the issue.

Most of the leaks are due user mistake. 2 Leaks in almost consecutive dives, points more to hardware failure. 

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2 hours ago, sunnyboy010101 said:

I agree with ChrisRoss - always suspect the last thing you changed before the problem started.

What I'm wondering is whether or not the new ring is deforming under pressure at 32m? This is only 104 feet, and should be well within the limits of the equipment, but it's always possible some minor flaw might be causing the sealing surface to shift enough to leak.

I think the best test is the paper towel in the empty (weighted) housing on a dive to the same depth.

Yes, I suspect the extension ring, but it’s brand new. The strange thing is that is starts leaking after a while, and then it fills up quite quickly.

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2 hours ago, Davide DB said:

Paper towel in the empty housing is the way to go. If it's some button or some other command, you have to try to use them underwater.

Usually flooding happens within a few feet. O-rings are made to work under pressure. The greater the pressure the better the oring works. This is why vacuum systems work with minimal negative pressure: just enough to make the oring work in its seat.

P.S.

Nevertheless, years ago I had a lot of problems with a housing that flooded only after 60 meters depth. After several floods and tests, I realized that the manufacturer, after a maintenance, had mounted an oring of wrong section (Hate the sin,Love the sinner). In that case, once a certain pressure was exceeded, the oring was displaced from its seat. But this is certainly not the case.

Yes, I guess it would take some dives before finding the problem using an empty housing.

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2 hours ago, pbalves said:

Hi Tobbe.

Much cheaper to send it to service than to buy a used or new housing. And besides that, if the problem is on the new extension, the purchase of another housing does not solve your problem.

To have it serviced, send the full equipment (housing, extension and port), and explain the problem you had, so the service provider can put some more attention in finding and solving the issue.

Most of the leaks are due user mistake. 2 Leaks in almost consecutive dives, points more to hardware failure. 

You’re probably right, I will check with my dealer how long it would take before I decide to buy a new one.

 

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3 hours ago, tobbe1 said:

Yes, I suspect the extension ring, but it’s brand new. The strange thing is that is starts leaking after a while, and then it fills up quite quickly.

Both the extension and it's o-ring are new I would assume and just because it's new doesn't rule things out - it's always possible something slipped through QC.  Davide's point on a bad o-ring could be the issue - inspect that one closely and compare it to o-ring on the port.  If you have a micrometer or calipers, measure the diameter (cross -section) of both of the o-rings at several points around the o-ring.  Try not to mix them up - you may want to do comparison tests later.

You could for example run tests on a rope at depth with the current setup and o-rings.  Then with a new spare port o-ring, then with the housing and and port without the extension.  You would need to keep track of which o-ring is which to avoid confusion. 

 

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, tobbe1 said:

You’re probably right, I will check with my dealer how long it would take before I decide to buy a new one.

 

Where are you located? In the US you don't need to go through a dealer. You can send it directly to a Nauticam service center. I think I used Reef Photo the last time I serviced my Nauticam. Compared to the cost of even a used Nuaticam, it's a good deal. I serviced a NA-D800 about 5 years ago and it was $320 labor + $180 parts. I then sold that housing 2 years ago for $1300.

Lots of leaks might be user error, but I've had small drips and drop coming through controls in the past. Most often the shutter. Wear on the o-rings will eventually result in a leak, even with good attention to proper cleaning.

Edited by davehicks

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22 minutes ago, davehicks said:

Lots of leaks might be user error, but I've had small drips and drop coming through controls in the past. Most often the shutter. Wear on the o-rings will eventually result in a leak, even with good attention to proper cleaning.

The report on this housing is that a certain depth the leak starts and it is quite rapid - just doesn't feel like this is a button o-ring issue, which as you say often starts with drips as the o-rings wear.

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19 hours ago, r4e said:

Just a comment on your disclaimer: most of the internal (hidden) O-rings of Nauticam housings are grey, not black. E.g. the O-rings of all the push button axles and rotary axles are grey. 

I have no information of whether the oil you suggest, is compatible or not with any of the O-rings. Although O-rings generally speaking are very strong, I have seen cracked, clipped, torn and softened O-rings as a result of extreme weather, misuse, chemical misuse, and wear/tear.

OOPS my bad,

 

But yes the oil is compatible as I have been using it for over 5 years now.

 

thanks for the info and correction 

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, ChrisRoss said:

Both the extension and it's o-ring are new I would assume and just because it's new doesn't rule things out - it's always possible something slipped through QC.  Davide's point on a bad o-ring could be the issue - inspect that one closely and compare it to o-ring on the port.  If you have a micrometer or calipers, measure the diameter (cross -section) of both of the o-rings at several points around the o-ring.  Try not to mix them up - you may want to do comparison tests later.

You could for example run tests on a rope at depth with the current setup and o-rings.  Then with a new spare port o-ring, then with the housing and and port without the extension.  You would need to keep track of which o-ring is which to avoid confusion. 

 

I can report a case with a new Nauticam extension/adapter (SKU # 36064): I ordered it new and after the first dive few drops of water came in via the opening of the locking mechanism. I assume the extension was lying around in the shop for long and the O-ring became dry and rigid. I solved the problem with a drop of this fluid: https://www.unterwasserkamera.at/shop/catalog/en/product_info.php?info=p6154_d-d-top-secret-o-ring-fluid.html

Every year I treat all concealed O-rings via the opings of our housings with this fluid and there was never a water entry. I can also say that some controls of the housings, that were purchased second hand, ran noticable smoother after the first treatment...

I agree that it would be better to remove the O-rings and grease them with original Nauticam lubricant (and replace O-rings, when worn out), but so far I was reluctant to do this substantial amount of work, hopefully I will never regret this...

Regarding the problem of tobbe1, I would not risk another flooding by continuing to dive: the leakage has to be located (with paper towels as already suggested), the entire mechanism removed and the O-rings replaced. It is very likely a worn out O-ring that sometimes seals, sometimes not (unless it is a strange user error, impossible to diagnose this from remote)...

Wolfgang

Edited by Architeuthis
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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, Architeuthis said:

 I solved the problem with a drop of this fluid: https://www.unterwasserkamera.at/shop/catalog/en/product_info.php?info=p6154_d-d-top-secret-o-ring-fluid.html

Every year I treat all concealed O-rings via the opings of our housings with this fluid and there was never a water entry. I can also say that some controls of the housings, that were purchased second hand, ran noticable smoother after the first treatment...

Interesting. 

It would be nice knowing which kind of lubricant is it. They say it's not silicone and it's fluid...

Edited by Davide DB

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