Australian regulations require that your tank be visually inspected and pressure tested at a certified testing station once per year. Ideally, you should service ALL of your dive gear annually; your life depends on it!
For this test, the cylinder is filled with water and then pressurised to its test pressure (as specified by the manufacturer). This allows the tester to measure the permanent expansion of the cylinder (if any). This will show whether the cylinder material is fatiguing, which is represented by the cylinder stretching. This is much safer than compressing the cylinder with air, due to the incompressible nature of water, so doesn’t have explosive potential (as does air) if the cylinder were to rupture. The regulatory authority and the manufacturer set the frequency of testing (test period) along with the procedure for testing, in conjunction with each other.
The amount of use a regulator gets and how well it is looked after will determine its service interval. A regulator thrown unwashed into the corner of the shed would probably need to be serviced before the next dive to restore its performance. Conversely, one that is washed thoroughly and used little may need some attention (perhaps a tune and adjustment, some components re-lubricated, o-rings replaced) after two years. As a general rule, regulators should be professionally inspected yearly to determine how much servicing they require.
A standard regulator service includes servicing of the first stage, second stage and octopus, the SPG gauge and the BCD hose end. Regulators that are more complicated than the norm or present greater difficulty to repair because of corroded and seized parts, for instance, may require more extensive work and consequently may cost a little more to service.
Given its importance, equipment servicing should generally be undertaken by a qualified professional. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t understand how your gear actually functions. Many dive shops run equipment maintenance and repair courses suitable for the recreational diver, and I assist on some courses. Please inquire at your local dive shop, or check out their website.
I have been servicing diving equipment commercially since 1980. In that time, I have repaired nearly every make and model of regulator and cylinder valve including a few older twin-hose regulators, and regulators purchased overseas. I have factory repair qualifications for Aqualung (US Divers), Apollo, Mares, Sherwood, Poseidon, Oceanic, Scubapro, Airdive and Apeks. I keep a large store of parts in stock for most regulators currently available and for some models and makes that have disappeared, such as the older Dacor brand. I can also change some computer batteries and can conduct or advise you on computer / SPG repairs.
Yes, I ONLY use the recommended service kits and parts supplied by branded manufacturers.
Turnaround time for a regulator is a week (preferably 2 weeks) and for a cylinder is 2 days (preferably 4 days). I work throughout the year and my peak busy times are from December to May. If you bring me your diving gear for servicing outside these busy times, I can more accurately predict when I can meet your diving trip needs.