By Steve Johnson
If your push buttons are getting sticky, difficult to press, or are not returning properly, then it’s time to service your housing. The easiest way to do this is to send it in to us for replacement of all the control seals and water pressure testing. If this isn’t an option for you, it is possible to replace push button o-rings on your own in the field with the O-ring Kit for Housing Push Buttons # 6201.03.
Ikelite lead service technician Steve Johnson shows you step-by-step how to remove, clean, and re-install your push buttons. Steve points out all of the little things to watch out for to make sure that your buttons work smoothy and your housing stays dry on the next dive. Watch the video, or read the article below.
Removing Push Buttons
Note: Push buttons are different lengths for different features of the camera. It’s important to make sure the right button goes back in the right place. I recommend that you replace one push button at a time to avoid confusion.
Step 1: Remove the rubber tip off the inside of the push button.
Step 2: Remove the e-clip.
Push the push button in to see which groove the e-clip is attached to. Some push buttons have multiple grooves and placement of the e-clip will affect the operation of the button. Write down the position of the e-clip in relation to the end of the push button so that you can install it correctly when you put it back in.
Use a pair of pliers to remove the e-clip that holds the push button in place.
Push in on the push button you want to remove, this will raise the e-clip holding the button in place. Using pliers, tightly grab the e-clip on the opposite side of the open end. Pull loose. You may need to apply some pressure.
Step 3: Remove the push button, spring, and o-ring from the housing.
A lot of the time the o-ring will come out with the push button, but if not, you can use the push button to pull the o-ring out of the push button cavity. Or use the shaft of the push button to push from inside the housing to loosen the o-ring.
Step 4: Remove the spring, o-ring, and washers from the push button
Once you've removed an e-clip, throw it out. You should never reuse e-clips.
Cleaning the Push Buttons
You can soak the push buttons in a cleaning solution like CLR and water to remove any salt build-up. Vinegar and water also work well. After cleaning, you should rinse push buttons with water to remove any residue.
When we service housings at Ikelite, we use an ultrasonic cleaner, with a solution of 25 percent CLR to 75 percent water, to completely remove all build-up from the shafts.
Note: Never use alcohol, acetone, or any other chemicals or solvents to clean the push buttons. These solutions may degrade the o-rings or cause cracking if they come into contact the the back of the housing.
Get your push buttons clean and completely dry before you go to put them back into the housing.
Use a clean, lint-free cloth or soft brush to remove any debris from the push button holes in the housing.
Now that your push buttons are clean and dry, it’s time to install them back into your housing.
Whether you use a CLR and water or vinegar and water cleaning solution, you should always rinse your push buttons afterward to remove any excess residue. Never use chemical solvents like acetone or alcohol to clean your push buttons.
Installing Push Buttons
Step 1: Lubricate and seat o-ring.
Start by seating a new, lubricated o-ring into the o-ring groove. The o-ring should be well lubricated before you try to seat it in the groove. You can combine your o-rings with the lubricant in a small dish or lubricate them one by one.
Center the o-ring into the groove. Then use the head of one of the push buttons to seat it in the o-ring groove.
The o-ring has to be properly seated before you install a push button. The diameter of the groove is slightly smaller than the outer diameter of the o-ring, so it will require some pressure to compress the o-ring into the groove. Press until the the o-ring is sitting flat inside of the groove. The hole in the center of the o-ring should appear smaller and the top of the o-ring should look even all the way around. You should be able to see the top edge of the o-ring groove above the o-ring. On housings with an acrylic back, you can look through the side of the back to see that the o-ring formed a solid black line in the groove.
It is important that you see this solid line. If you don’t see a solid line, start over from step one of removing the push button. If the o-ring is not seated properly, you will flood your housing.
Step 2: Add the washers and spring to the push button.
Note that there are several different lengths of springs in a push button replacement kit. Use the correct length of spring depending on where you’re installing the push button.
Metal push buttons will need a washer on both sides of the spring. Plastic push buttons only use a washer on the side of the spring that will be closest to the o-ring.
Step 3: Secure the e-clip with pliers, the same way you removed them.
With your other hand, push the assembled push button through the o-ring and press it all the way in.
Push the opening of the e-clip into the groove on the push button until it snaps into place. The shaft of the push button should be in the center of the e-clip.
Be sure to install the e-clip in the correct groove. This will affect the final reach of the push button.
Note: You should never re-use e-clips.
Step 4: Check button operation and reinstall rubber tip.
Press the button a couple of times to check operation. Then re-install the rubber tip onto the push button.
Do these steps with each push button, making sure the o-ring is seated properly each time.
Ensuring o-rings are installed properly is imperative to preventing leaks. On housings with an acrylic back, you can look through the side of the back to see that the o-ring formed a solid black line in the groove.
Testing the Housing
Once you’ve replaced push button o-rings, you should always check the housing for leaks before you put a camera inside.
It is not enough to vacuum test a housing. A vacuum only checks for leaks at pressures up to 1 atmosphere. Some push button leaks will only become evident much deeper than that.
We use a pressure tank to test our housings to 200 feet. If you don’t have access to a pressure tank, then assemble your housing without a camera and take it diving as deep as possible. Adding a little weight to the inside will help counteract the buoyancy.
Work all of the push buttons and controls at depth to check for leaks.
Get Your Push Button O-Ring Kit
Our O-Ring Kit for Housing Push Buttons #6201.03 includes replacement o-rings, springs, washers and e-rings for up to 25 push buttons.
We would also be more than happy to service your housing for you. Visit our Service + Repairs page for information on sending your housing in for service.
Good luck and happy shooting! And, as always, if you have any questions on this procedure please reach out to us via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Steve Johnson has been a team member with Ikelite for 28 years. In that time he's worked within almost every aspect of the company but has mainly focused on the service department. Outside of work you can catch Steve scuba diving, snorkeling, spending time with family and his chocolate lab rescue Maplesugar.