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Alaska Sleep Education Center

Broken CPAP or BiPAP? Check out our guide to fixing and maintaining your machine

Posted by Julia Higginson on Dec 14, 2017 9:42:10 PM

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Your CPAP and BiPAP machine is made up of a myriad of parts. You need each part to be working well so you are getting the best therapy possible.

Think of your machine like your car. Your car needs frequent maintenance so that it will work properly. Worn out parts will make your car drive inefficiently and may even cause your car to break down. Broken down or worn out parts must be replaced if you want your car to work.

The same is true of your CPAP or BiPAP machine; it works best with proper maintenance and the replacement of broken down or worn out parts. You will be able to tell the difference with how your machine is working as parts break or wear out.

Guide to replacing supplies

Replacment of your CPAP gear is paramount to the success of your treatment. The replacement of your equipment will be dependent upon your type of insurance so it is always important to check with your insurer about your eligibility and what their suggested replacement schedule is.

You should also retain a copy of your sleep study for insurance reasons, especially if you will be entering a Medicare fee for service and wish to obtain replacement parts and/or a new machine with Medicare as the payer. The following is our suggested guide to replacing supplies: 

Nasal mask cushions: Nasal mask cushions are in constant contact with your face. That means the dirt and oils from your face can break the cushions down. You should replace your nasal mask cushions every 14 days.

Nasal pillows: Nasal pillows sit inside your nose so they are exposed to constant moisture and germs. You should replace your nasal pillows every 14 days.

Full face masks: You full face mask may deteriorate over time through regular wear and tear and from the grim of your face. Regular replacement once a month is recommended.

Air filter: Your device air filter can wear out or become clogged and dirty over time. A dirty air filter can expose you to dust, dirt, mold, and bacteria. You should replace your air filter every 14 days.

Frame system: The frame of your machine is made up of the mask frame and cushion. Frames should be regularly replaced every three months since it is placed close to your face and can break down.

Tubing: Your CPAP or BiPAP mask tubing may develop small holes or tears over time from use. These small holes or tears can cause air leaks, which can lead to compromised therapy and a return of apnea symptoms. Tubing should be replaced every three months.

Mask Headgear and chin straps: Your CPAP or BiPAP mask headgear and chinstraps can become stretched our over time and lose their elasticity. Broken chinstraps can lead to over-tightening and discomfort. Mask headgear and chinstraps can also become riddled with sweat, moisture, and bacteria. You should replace your mask headgear and chin straps every six months.

Humidifier water chamber: Your CPAP or BiPAP humidifier water chamber is designed to help prevent your airways from drying out. The humidifier may become discolored, cracked, cloudy or even pitted as a result of water being in the chamber. Bacteria can then become trapped in the cracks or pits. The humidifier chamber should be replaced every six months.

CPAP or BiPAP Machine: The lifespan of your CPAP machine has a life span of about five years. It is recommended to get your machine replaced every five years. It may also be worthwhile to get a backup CPAP machine if your current machine is more than two years old in case your current machine is broken or requires maintenance.

Prescription and Warranty Status

Even with regular care and maintenance, there is a chance that your CPAP or BiPAP machine will stop working. Having your ducks in order can help ease the hassle that can accompany a broken down machine.

One of the most important items to have on hand is a copy of your CPAP or BiPAP prescription. CPAP or BiPAP machines are only available with a prescription. If you need a replacement machine you might be out of luck if you don’t have access to your prescription.    

You should also keep tabs on your warranty status. Your warranty should cover a replacement machine if your CPAP or BiPAP is less than two years old. Your CPAP or BiPAP provider should have your prescription on file if your machine is still under warranty.

Once your machine’s warranty wears out you will need to replace specific parts and equipment.

You should also be aware of your insurance coverage. Most insurance companies will cover a new CPAP or BiPAP machine every five to six years. You may be covered if it has been less than five years if your needs change and you have a new prescription.

Troubleshooting

Sometimes your machine will break down at the most inconvenient time. Maybe your warranty has expired or it isn’t time yet for you to qualify for a replacement. There are steps you can take to try and troubleshoot machine malfunctions by yourself.

If your machine isn’t working you might need to replace your power cord. Power cords can break down after years of use and from being bent at odd angles. A worn out or broken power cord can make it so your machine doesn’t get the electricity it needs to function properly.

One of the most common things to wear out is the heating element on the humidifier. If your humidifier isn’t working, it may be something as simple as needing a new heating element or water chamber. You will need a prescription if you need to replace the whole humidifier.

You might notice your CPAP machine mask leaks. Don’t panic if your mask is leaking; it’s a common problem that can be fixed. The two culprits behind leaking masks is an ill fit or your mask parts could be worn out.

Start with looking at the fit of your mask. If your mask is the wrong shape for your face structure you can solve the problem by getting a new mask. If the fit isn’t the problem then look at the shape of your mask parts. Worn out straps can easily be replaced so air is no longer leaking out.

Keep track of when you should order replacement parts for your mask and accessories so that you always get the most out of your therapy. If you have any questions or need help replacing parts, please contact us today at the Alaska Sleep Clinic.

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