Paintball tanks, like other high-pressure vessels, need routine hydrotests to ensure they’re safe to use. The price you’ll pay for this service might vary with various locations and additional services you request.
It can cost about $25 to $40 to hydrotest a paintball tank. You might have to include shipping costs, which could be $10 to $30 if you’re using an online service. If you opt to change your regulator, you could pay up to $70 to $90. A fresh paint coat might cost an extra $20.
The rest of the article will tell you what a hydrotest is, how much a hydrotest costs, why you need to do a hydrotest, when a hydrotest is worth it, and why a tank fails its hydrotest.
What Is a Hydrotest?
A hydrotest subjects your paintball tank to extreme pressure underwater to determine its resilience and user safety. The process typically involves a physical inspection to identify physical flaws that might be a safety concern.
The hydrotest is a routine examination exercise prescribed by the Department of Transportation (DOT) on pressurized tanks to determine their operational safety.
Cost of a Paintball Tank Hydrotest
The starting price for a simple hydrotest for your paintball tank is about $25. This fee doesn’t include regulator removal and reinstallation. The price for your hydrotest can get up to $40 or more if you want your regulator removed and reinstalled.
In addition to the plain hydrotest, you can pay to have your regulator changed. Depending on the type of regulator you want to install on your paintball tank, prices can start at about $70 and get as high as $90.
Consider using your local paintball shop for your hydrotest to save shipping expenses. If you’re using an online service provider, you would need to include about $10 to $30 for shipping, depending on your location.
Why You Should Do a Hydrotest
First of all, the Department of Transportation (DOT) requires taking your paintball tank for a hydrotest every three to five years. The risks of using a non-hydro compliant tank far outweigh whatever perceived gains you might consider from skipping it. Though the probability of failure is slim, there’s still a significant risk of harm to you and others around you from a structural failure.
That’s not all; you could miss out on engaging in the game you love. Imagine having the field refuse to fill your tank because it doesn’t have an updated hydrotest. The fields need to do this because there are penalties they might incur if they fill such tanks.
Paintball tanks typically have a lifespan of 15 years from the manufacturing year. If you’re not sure, you can contact the manufacturer for an accurate date.
Is a Hydrotest Worth It?
If you’ve just finished reading the section just above, you probably think a hydrotest is worth it. You won’t be wrong for saying that.
In terms of safety assurance, a hydrotest is worth it. However, in terms of monetary value, a hydrotest might not always be the best choice.
Hear me out before making up your mind. If you have a pretty expensive carbon fiber tank, you could spare $30 or more to test your tank routinely instead of merely buying a new one.
On the other hand, if you own a CO2 or HPA steel tank, you might be better off spending the money for a hydrotest on a new paintball tank. That’s because both costs are comparable, and with a hydrotest, there’s still a risk of the tank failing, causing you to end up even buying a new tank.
You can sell your old tank if you decide to buy a new one, but the new owner would need a hydrotest if it’s due for one before use. You shouldn’t sell your paintball tank if it’s over 15 years old. It’s best to dispose of such tanks safely; you could drill holes in them to discourage people from scavenging them.
How to Know if Your Paintball Tank Needs a Hydrotest
The paintball tank manufacturers typically inscribe the date of manufacture and hydrotest due date on the side of your paintball tank. The manufacturers might write the hydrotest due date in plain English, so you might want to look out for any one of the following:
- HYDROTEST BEFORE: MM-YY
- REHYDROTEST BEFORE: MM-YY
You could also calculate the new hydrotest date by adding three to five years to the date of manufacture. This date might appear at the top of your paintball tank. Look out for the manufacturing date in any of the following formats:
If your paintball tank has undergone a hydrotest previously, then you don’t need the manufacturing date to determine its next appointment. After your paintball tank’s previous hydrotest, the company leaves a plate or label showing the date of the last re-hydrotest. You can add five years to the date inscribed to get your next re-hydrotest date.
Failing a Paintball Tank Hydrotest
If your paintball tank is due for a hydrotest, it’s normal to be nervous. Failing the hydrotest would mean you’d have to spend more money getting a new one. However, most paintball tanks pass this test, so you need not worry so much.
During the test, specific markers could earn your paintball tank a fail. Let’s take a look at the hydrotest stages and failure signs.
Physical Examination Stage
The physical state of your paintball tank is crucial to it getting a pass on its hydrotest. That’s why your paintball tank has to undergo this physical examination before and after the actual hydrotest. The hydrotester would begin by removing the regulator and inspecting the threading for signs of damage carefully. They also study the interior damage.
Your paintball tank would instantly fail its hydrotest if the hydrotester identifies:
- Damaged threading
- Corrosion on the interior surface
- Pitting on the interior surface
- Signs of structural integrity defects
While the above-listed signs would translate to an immediate fail, things like chipped or cracked paint won’t cause your tank to fail the test as long as its integrity remains intact. The physically intensive game of paintball demands resilience from the player and their paintball guns, so these scratches and paint cracks are bound to happen with time.
If you want to restore the beautiful paint finish, you could contact your local paintball shop or the hydrotest company to fix it for you. It typically involves re-dipping the tank for a new coat, and it might cost about $20. You could also get a tank cover to shield your paintball tank from such damage.
Hydrotest Proper Stage
The hydrotester will place your tank in a water-filled pressure vessel and connect it to a hose after completing the physical examination stage.
After securing the tank in the vessel, they force high-pressured water into the tank and monitor its expansion degree. Each tank has a Rejection Elastic Expansion (REE), which you would find inscribed boldly on it. This value has a cubic centimeters unit, and you would usually find it on your tank; for instance, it might appear as REE 24cc.
The hydrotester will measure your tank’s expansion. If it exceeds its REE, then it has failed. You will likely not get your failed tank back, and the hydrotester would drill a hole and discard it safely.
A hydrotest on your paintball tank can cost anywhere from $25 to $90, depending on the extra services you request. The choice of a local paintball shop or an online service depends on you, but you would need to pay shipping fees if you choose to go online.
It’s best to perform your hydrotest routinely every three to five years to ensure that it’s safe to use and poses no harm to you or fellow players.