Thursday, November 27, 2008

Pee valve plumbing

The first time I used my new OMS pee valve, I quickly realized its included "plumbing" had a couple drawbacks:
  1. At 1/8" ID, I wasn't terribly confident in its flow rate
  2. It required some "fishing around" at the dive site to get everything hooked up
Of these, the "fishing around" was the biggest concern. I'm not particularly self-conscious or easily embarrassed, but spending a couple minutes fumbling around "down there" at the dive site ain't cool. Furthermore, trying to do it while gearing up for a night dive in winter with poor lighting is pretty hard.

After reading some forum posts about this same problem, I learned that some guys add quick-disconnect fittings to their plumbing. This allows you to put on the condom catheter at home and connect it to half the plumbing. Then, at the dive site, you simply "click in," which is easily done by feel in the dark.

Here's what it all looks like when assembled. See the end of this post for a full listing of parts.

The tubing

The tiny clear tubing that comes with the pee valve isn't large enough for quick-disconnect fittings, so I replaced it with black fuel line (3/8" ID). I used about 28 inches of fuel line so I could create a loop near my belly. The loop is important so the plumbing never gets pulled tight, creating strain on the fittings.

The fittings

On the valve side, I replaced the 1/4" barbed nylon adapter with a 3/8" brass adapter. I couldn't find this particular adapter in brass on the McMaster-Carr web site, so I ended up getting it at a local hose and fitting shop. The guy actually gave it to me for free (how cool is that?).

Use no more than two wraps of Teflon tape around the threaded end of the adapter.

The female quick-disconnect fitting is attached to the catheter end of the fuel line, and the male quick-disconnect fitting is attached directly to the catheter. This allows you to don the catheter at home and comfortably wear it to the dive site. After you've done this a few times, though, you'll probably find it's easier to just put the catheter on at the dive site.

I found the tip of the catheters to be a little long, which could possibly result in kinking -- and the dreaded "blow-off" immediately thereafter. To avoid this, I always trim the tip down to roughly the same length as the fitting barb. The catheter also has a bulb near the tip to prevent kinks from forming in that area.

After you trim the catheter tip, attach the quick-disconnect fitting and discard the trimmed end (or let them accumulate in your save-a-dive kit for months like I do as a reminder of how much diving you do).

To test the integrity of the plumbing and fittings, I attached a condom catheter to the coupling and wrapped it around my faucet head. Then I let the water flow at a rate I'm pretty sure my "personal plumbing" is not even remotely capable of, even after playing the "60 ounces of beer in 60 minutes" game. Everything worked great with no leaks whatsoever.

(This photo was taken before I switched to the fuel line)

The condom catheter

Let's be frank. These things are in no way like the condoms you use for fun. Instead of being lubricated, they have adhesive on the inside that makes them stick to your skin. They come in a variety of sizes and models, but you still roll them on like a normal condom.

Let's be even more frank. Adhesive sticks to hair just as well as it does to skin. You basically have two choices: trim your pubic hair or let the condom do it for you when you try to remove it. I strongly recommend the proactive approach.

Like many proud new pee valve owners, I had concerns about "blow-off," which is when the catheter unexpectedly becomes detached from you. To help avoid this, I used a "wideband" catheter on my first test dive. As their creative name suggests, widebands have a wider band of adhesive for better gripping power.

This was a major mistake. Let me just say I spent an extremely unpleasant 30 minutes in a hot bath trying to remove the condom after my dive. If you want more details, read this guy's post on ScubaBoard. I had almost exactly the same experience.

It turns out that blow-off is probably the last thing you need to worry about. Getting the condom to release its death grip on you after the dive is a much bigger concern.

Here are some tips that will make using the condoms much easier:
  1. Request some samples from a manufacturer. They'll also send you a sizing guide. Set your pride aside and get the right size. Be sure to order at least one XXL in case anyone ever asks to borrow one.
  2. Trim your hair. And then trim it some more.
  3. Attach the condom to the coupling first, then to your body.
  4. When putting the condom on, roll it back all the way. The last 1/2" or so has no adhesive, and this extra non-sticky part will make it much easier to remove later.
  5. Get some adhesive removal wipes and wipe everything down as you remove the condom, which usually involves a bit of gentle tugging. These wipes will become your new best friends.
  6. Before investing in a box of 100 condoms, buy two each of several different kinds. For me, the Mentor Freedom Cath was the winner. I personally think the widebands are overkill.

Parts list

PartMcMaster-Carr Part #
3/8" barbed adapter5372K116
I didn't buy it at McMaster, but I think this is the right part
Female quick-disconnect5012K83
Female quick-disconnect thru-valve (optional)
Use this if you need to pee on the surface before you hook up the plumbing
Male quick-disconnect5012K86


John Wilson said...

This a really a great post. I will keep these things in my mind. Thanks for sharing these great tips and details. Water Meter Installation

jonesalbert said...

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Karla Bathrick said...

Thanks for the great article! I really learned a lot about Plumber. Keep up the great work!

Brett Kogel said...

Great tips on plumbing.

NYC Water Main

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rokn elbeet said...

ما تهتم به شركة كشف تسربات المياه بالرياض هو البحث عن كيفة علاج مشاكل تسريبات المياه التي تطرأ علي المكان فجأة بواسطة اجهزة الكشف الحدية التي تستخدمها شركة كشف تسربات بالرياض والتي تسعي للوصول الي افضل النتائج المثالية القادرة علي حل هذه المشكلة بدون تدمير فالاعتماد علي الاساليب الحديثة يساعدكم في الحصول علي نتيجة مثالية في مصلحة العميل فنحن لا نكتفي بتقديم هذه الاعمال في مدينة الرياض فقط بلا لدينا الفنين المتميزة الذي يقدمون شركة كشف تسربات المياه بالدمام التي تعمل علي حل مشكلة البيت بدون الاعتماد علي ا اساليب تقليدية التي تستخدما بعض مقدمي خدمة شركة كشف تسربات بالدمام فلا تتكايل بشأن هذا العمل بالذات لانه يحل لك الكثير من المشاكل

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