Knowing how your gear is serviced is important in order to understand why your gear has to be serviced. Although every regulator and BCD is different, the fundamentals stay the same. All gear goes through the same basic steps when serviced, some of these steps are just adjusted at times for certain models.
The first step is disassembly, whether its a BCD or a regulator the first step is always to start taking it apart. With a regulator we take off the hoses and separate the 1st and 2nd stages. From here it is personal preference, I personally start with the 1st stage then move on to the primary 2nd stage and lastly the octo. After the rest is taken apart all the parts are cleaned and all o-rings and seats(depending on the reg other parts as well) is replaced from a service kit. Cleaning all the parts can at times be a very time consuming activity, luckily at Geko we have a Sonic cleaner which really helps the process along. After everything looks brand new, it is given time to dry properly before being re-assembled. Once all components of the regulator has been re-assembled the hoses are attached again, and the tuning can start. The first thing that is adjusted is the interstage pressure. this is the pressure that will be traveling through the hoses from your 1st to 2nd stage. You might have heard of low and high pressure hoses, the hoses that go to your 2nd stages is low pressure hoses meaning that(depending on the hose) can take up to about 18 bar. This is one of the reasons that it is important that the interstage pressure isn’t to high. The second reason is that the interstage pressure has a big effect on the breathing from the 2nd stage. If it is to low you will have difficulty breathing and if it is to high it might breath to easily or even free-flow constantly. After the interstage pressure is set(normally 9-10 bar) you can start adjusting the breathing on the 2nd stage. To do this we(Geko) use a gauge, although a lot of people do it by just breathing from it and making an estimated guess. Using this gauge will give better results.
We use this gauge to set the breathing resistance, for the primary it is normally about 1,2 inches of sea water, and for the octo about 2 inches of sea water. We make the octo slightly more difficult to breath from to ensure that it doesn’t free-flow when not in use. While doing this we also adjust how hard you need to press the purge button before it actually starts purging, this is so that the pressure from the water doesn’t let purge while still making it easy enough to do if you want to purge it.
For BCD’s we use the same steps, however there is less tuning involved. First we take of the inflator and start to disassemble it. Once it is disassembled it goes through the same cleaning process, having a clean inflator is actually more important than having a clean regulator in my opinion. This may seem a little strange, however most regulators is failsafe. Meaning that it will give more air than necessary if something breaks instead of stopping to give you air. This means that you have time to reach a buddy or if really necessary the surface, this is why you are taught to breath from a free-flowing regulator in your Padi Open water course. However if the inflator button on your inflator gets stuck it will over inflate your BC, and shoot you to the surface. Although you are taught to deal with this as well it is a much more stressful situation than a free-flowing reg. Once the inflator is cleaned and re-assembled, we take of all the dump valves on the BC and make sure that there is no salt buildup there, a buildup of salt can either result in the dump valve constantly leaking or getting stuck when you pull on it. Lastly we properly wash the bladder with BC life and then make sure that the dump valves open when the BC is over inflated so that your bladder doesn’t burst if you fully inflate your BC at the surface.