What goes into servicing a life raft?

As a responsible life raft owner, you know when it's time to bring your life raft in for service, but what goes into the actual inspection process? When you bring your raft to Life Raft & Survival Equipment for service, one of our factory certified technicians will remove the life raft from its container or valise and either inflate the raft with compressed air or inflate the raft through its CO2 cylinder depending on if it is a USCG approved commercial raft or a recreational life raft.

Once the life raft is inflated, it undergoes a 1-hour pressure test at the manufacturers specified PSI. Before the test, the technician makes note of the time, room temperature and the barometer. After the 1-hour test, the technician will make note of any change in temperature, barometer & raft pressure and make the necessary adjustments to the final pressure. If the raft fails the pressure test, it is the technician's responsibility to find out where the raft is leaking from and make necessary repairs.

The second stage of inspection is going through the included equipment pack, making sure all of the equipment is in good working order and replacing any expired items like flares, food rations and water pouches. We also thoroughly inspect the tubes, floor, canopy lights and zippers for proper operation. The certificate supplied to you will include an inventory list of everything packed inside the raft and the quantities of each item.

Once the raft has passed test and the equipment has been inspected and replaced, it is now time to repack the life raft. The technician deflates the raft with a high-powered vacuum and folds the raft to the manufacturer's specification. Some rafts will be sealed in a vacuum bag (most recreational life rafts) and put back into its container or valise or simply folded and inserted into its canister or valise. 

The final process is performed by our banding technician. This technician is responsible for replacing the breakaway bands that hold the container together, cleaning the container/valise and applying a new inspection sticker.

Every raft CO2 cylinder will eventually need to be emptied, hydro tested and refilled with fresh CO2 & N2 or compressed air depending on what type of system is used. The intervals for CO2 cylinder testing vary by manufacturer. 

Life raft servicing should be performed by qualified and certified personnel or authorized service centers to guarantee the safety and reliability of the equipment. Regular servicing intervals are specified by the life raft manufacturer and relevant maritime regulations.

If you have any questions regarding life raft repacking, please call us at 401-816-5400.