15 Steps to a Leak Free Underwater Housing

Follow these 15 steps to a leak free underwater housing and take your camera underwater without stressing about it getting wet!

You might not realise, but the lack of proper o-ring care and preparation are two of the main causes of camera housing leaks.

When you prepare your camera housing for diving, follow these important steps:

1:  Prepare your housing, unhurried, in a well-lit area, where you will not be disturbed.

Preparing a leak free underwater housing
Prepare your camera in a quiet area where you will not be disturbed
Cleaning the o-ring

2:  Firstly, you should remove the o-ring from the door of the housing. Also, you really should use the o-ring remover to take it out. Don’t pinch it with anything sharp that will damage it.

o-ring remover
Use a proper o-ring remover

3:  After that, you need to check the o-ring for stray hairs, fluff or sand. These little things can damage your o-ring and prevent it from sealing your housing properly. Just one of our 15 steps to a leak free underwater housing!

4:  You should then check the o-ring for tears, cuts or damage. Please do not use it if it’s damaged in any way. You must also only use the o-ring supplied with your housing as not all o-rings are the same diameter. This means that if you use the wrong o-ring, your housing will not seal!

Isotta o-ring lubricant
Use the o-ring lubricant provided with your housing.


5: Next, you have to apply o-ring lube to the o-ring. It is best if you use the one supplied with your housing. To do this, take a small, rice-sized blob and dot it around the o-ring. Do not over-lube as this could make the o-ring swell! Gently run the o-ring between your forefinger and thumb to ensure it is evenly coated. Do not stretch the o-ring when you do this!

6:  Once the o-ring is clean and evenly coated with lube, you can put it into its groove. However, before putting the o-ring back, you should clean the groove with a clean ear-bud covered with lint-free paper such as lense cleaning tissue. You can also use a small, clean, fluff-free make-up sponge instead.

lint-free make-up sponge
use a lint-free makeup sponge to clear the groove before replacing the o-ring
Place the o-ring back in the housing

7:  Another one of our 15 steps to a leak free underwater housing is to double-check the groove for stray hairs or sand that might have found their way there after you cleaned it. You can then put the o-ring into it.

8:  It is important to remember that you should not stretch or twist the o-ring when putting it into the groove. Rather, gently roll it in slowly and make sure it’s not twisted. With that in mind, if it is twisted, you can use the o-ring remover to pull it up slightly so that it can untwist itself.

9:  When you are happy that the o-ring is in place, give it a final once-over to check no sand, dust or hair has magicked its way back onto the o-ring.

10:  You can then place your camera into the housing and check that it is properly lined up in the housing. After that, close the housing and lock the door! As you gently close the door, check that that nothing is going to be trapped between the o-ring and the housing / door. Common culprits include housing straps and desiccant packets.

steps to a leak free underwater housing
Check the o-ring is properly placed in a clean groove.
Do the necessary checks

11:  After that, you must check that the housing is properly locked. You should also check that the o-ring has not popped out and that it is not visible, sitting between the door and the housing.

12:  If you use synch cords for your strobes, double check that you have screwed them in properly. Not everyone thinks of this, which is why we’ve added as number 12 of our 15 steps to a leak free underwater housing!

13:  Test that all buttons are aligned with the housing buttons and that your strobe fires at the proper time!

14:  If your housing comes with a vacuum pump, pull the vacuum and then press all the buttons, turn all the knobs and levers. This is to make sure all the o-rings on the buttons and levers are sealing correctly. If your vacuum remains intact, you are ready to hit the water!

It is important to remember you would need to repeat these steps every time you open your housing!

15 steps to a leak free underwater housing
Your camera is set up and ready to hit the water!
When not using your housing

15: When you are not using the camera for a while, remember to remove it from the housing, clean it and give it a bit of lube. Additionally, place it inside a clean ziplock bag and keep it inside your housing. You should ideally store it somewhere safe, cool and dry.

Mirrorless or DSLR users… If you want to change the port, you need to repeat steps 2-9 with the o-ring of the port whenever you change it!

And there you go!  15 steps to a leak free underwater housing!  Let us know in the comments below if you have any additional steps you add to your routine!

If you’re looking for a new housing, or replacement o-rings, give us a shout!  We sell Fantasea, Sea & Sea and Isotta underwater housings. We also dive with these housings. Because of this, we can offer first hand advice and assistance!

Why not sign up for our Underwater Photography and Videography Course? We’ll teach you everything there is to know about taking really great photos underwater!

You might also want to read this blog post on the DAN website about choosing the right camera and lenses for your macro underwater photography setup!

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