FAQs about replacement supplies for CPAP

Your CPAP’s accessory equipment is a lot like other frequently used health products, such as your toothbrush or a razor: it deteriorates, ceases to function optimally, and can get germy and unsanitary. Just like you wouldn’t use the same toothbrush for months on end, it’s important to replace your CPAP equipment to make sure that your machine is as clean, effective, and comfortable as possible. There are three main reasons you should regularly replace your PAP equipment: 

  1. PAP equipment, such as tubing and masks, can get germy over time. Replace regularly to keep your machine sanitary. 
  2. It is vital that your equipment be replaced regularly so that it functions properly. For instance, as masks age, they can crack or stretch, causing irritation and leaks. 
  3. Old equipment, especially masks and cushions, can irritate your face and lead to lack of compliance. 

The mask is the visible part of the CPAP setup that goes over your face, covering your noise (and possibly your mouth, depending on the type of mask you have). It delivers the pressurized air to your airways. Also, the style and maintenance of your mask can have a large effect in determining how comfortable you are wearing your CPAP machine, so it’s important to keep it in optimal condition!

Replacement Frequency: Every 3 months

How to tell if your mask needs to be replaced: If you notice that you are experiencing excessive leaks, the mask probably needs to be replaced. Furthermore, if you are very uncomfortable in your mask, you are encouraged to try a new style or get refitted. Often, improved comfort owing to a new mask design can be the difference between compliance and not using the machine.

These components, which include straps that wrap around your head and chin, secure the mask to your face. Over time and use, headgear may become stretched and lose elasticity, leading to over tightening and discomfort.

Replacement frequency: Every 6 months

How to tell if you need to replace your headgear and chin strap: If your headgear has stretched and/or you find that you need to tighten it to achieve an effective seal, it probably needs to be replaced.

CPAP filters ensure that the air that is delivered via your machine is clean and free of allergens and irritating particles. With time, they can wear out or become clogged. If the environment is particularly humid or dusty, then the disposable filter won’t last as long. Visual inspection is the key to determining disposable filter life.

Replacement Frequency: Twice a month

How to tell if your filters need to be replaced: Your filters will begin to show signs of wear and discoloration.

Tubing provides the passage through which the pressurized air travels from your machine to your mouth so that you can breathe easier! With time it can develop small tears, which can result in the patient receiving a lower pressure setting than prescribed.

Replacement Frequency: Every 3 months

How to tell if your tubing needs to be replaced: Tubing may turn opaque (no longer clear). If you notice small tears in the material, particularly between the coils, it’s time to replace.

Using a humidifier can make a positive difference to your therapy comfort and experience. By warming and moistening the air you’re breathing, it helps prevent you having a dry nose and throat and can help you keep your mouth closed while you sleep. The water chamber is the removable container that holds the water in your humidifier.

Replacement frequency: Every 6 months

How to tell if you need to replace your water chamber: The chamber may develop cracks, pitted areas, or discoloration owing to minerals in the water and buildup inside the chamber. As the material deteriorates, cracks may trap bacteria from moisture.

Please remember, you should use distilled water and change the water daily.

It’s a good idea to replace the actual CPAP device every 3-7 years. Most insurance companies will authorize a new device every 5 years. While the typical lifespan of a CPAP device is 5-7 years, there may be changes in the technology that you’ll want to take advantage of. For example, new devices have wireless modems to monitor your usage (learn more here). Depending on the wear and tear on your machine and your travel habits, you may wish to have a back-up CPAP. Replacement frequency: Every 3-7 years How to tell if you need a new CPAP device: If your device stops working, you should contact your provider immediately. Most CPAPs are covered under warranty for one year. If your device is no longer covered under warranty, you may want to find out if your insurance will cover a new CPAP device.
Humidification for CPAP machines can lessen nasal congestion, dryness and rainout, and aids in a more comfortable experience. Many of the new CPAP machines offer integrated humidifiers. They automatically adapt to the amount of humidity present and ambient temperature to provide optimal conditions to the mask. This post answers the question “Is a CPAP Humidifier necessary?” and describes the various methods of CPAP humidification. CPAP Humidification In winter, when heat is typically turned up inside, the natural moisture in the air is decreased. This, in turn, reduces the amount of moisture flowing through a CPAP machine. With the flow from a CPAP machine causing some dryness, the issue of a lower moisture level can aggravate the situation. This lack of moisture within the nasal passages may induce bleeding, swelling, sneezing and congestion. Additionally, a lack of moisture creates a fertile ground for colds or sinus infections. Therefore, humidification is not only a comfort feature. The additional humidification performs an important part of CPAP therapy. It reduces dryness and relieves any inflammation within the nasal passages. In fact, humidification, especially heated, increased patients satisfaction, comfort and, therefore, compliance. Difference between Cool Pass-over & Heated Humidification There are three types of CPAP humidifiers available. Cool pass-over style humidifiers allow the airflow to pass over a pool of water and subsequently pick up water vapor by free evaporation. Typically the larger the surface area of the pool of water the more water vapor the air stream can pick up. Heated pass-over style humidifiers are much more efficient at providing humidification simply by increasing the water temperature, which increases water vapor production vs. free humidification. By increasing the water temperature, additional energy is added to the individual molecules, allowing more of them to transform from the liquid state. As a result, the heated humidifier has the capability to provide additional water vapor to the air stream vs. a typical cool pass-over design.
The integrated heated CPAP humidifier systems have become popular because of their convenience, size, and satisfaction with the results. In fact, the use of heated humidification tends to reduce or eliminate most of the disadvantages of CPAP use including dry mouth and throat and nasal congestion. The resulting outcome is a more effective treatment and a refreshed feeling on awakening. Combat “rainout” or water in the tube by properly calibrating the machine and the room temperature. Incorporate a heated tube option if available.
You should not use standard tap water in a CPAP humidifier. Most tap water contains various minerals which can cause corrosion or harbor germs. When these minerals are left behind, it may cause discoloration to the aluminum plate and plastic housing of the humidifier chamber. It may also potentially affect the longevity of the chamber. Distilled water has been purified and will not generate mineral residue upon evaporation and may extend the usable life of the chamber.
When warm air from a heated humidifier begins to cool as it passes through the CPAP hose, it causes condensation in the hose. Hose covers wrap around the hose to insulate it and prevent this condensation. A fairly recent option is a heated tube which helps to keep a consistent temperature within the system. Finally, changing the room temperature slightly can further help reduce this issue.