We recognize that setting up and using your CPAP device may be challenging at first, but it’s well worth any time and effort it requires because your treatment will help you avoid more serious apnea-related complications such as excessive daytime sleepiness, heart disease and more.
In order to get up to speed quickly we recommend that you work closely with your physician and our CPAP and BiPAP professionals, who will help you overcome some of the most common obstacles. With our help, and a bit of patience and time, your treatment will be effective, sustainable, and stress-free.
Following you’ll find general guidelines for setting up, cleaning, and maintaining your CPAP or bi-level (BiPAP) equipment. Remember, a manufacturer’s manual, with instructions for your specific CPAP machine, was included with your machine. Please be sure to read all instructions carefully and refer to your manual for care and troubleshooting advice.
Also, Feeling Great’s equipment professionals and personnel and / or your other health care providers will instruct you in the proper care and safe use of your CPAP unit, and you can use the tips we offer here as supplemental information when needed. Please feel free to call us toll-free at 866-499-1588 if you need additional assistance or if you have any questions.
General Safety Instructions
Below you’ll find a list of helpful safety and comfort reminders for using your CPAP equipment. Please always use your equipment in accordance with the physician’s orders as well.
- Anticipate all possible exits from the home in the event of a fire.
- Have smoke detectors installed on each floor of your home.
- Keep a fire extinguisher handy.
- Make sure you have easy access to a telephone.
- Do not plug your equipment into extension cords.
- Use properly grounded electrical outlets.
- Under no circumstances should the ground prong of a three-prong electrical plug-in be torn off to make it usable with a two-hole electrical wall outlet. Instead, use a 3 / 2 adapter.
- Do not use multiple plugs in a single outlet.
- Power sources should meet or exceed electrical requirements for the equipment.
- Never use equipment in need of repair. Contact Feeling Great at 866-499-1588 as soon as possible when this happens.
- Always use equipment only as instructed.
- Never reset, bypass, or cover alarms.
- If possible, don’t place your equipment on throw rugs and / or slippery or uneven surfaces.
- If necessary, rearrange furniture so you have easy access to your equipment.
- If possible, avoid placing electrical cords or tubing in high traffic areas. Otherwise, make sure that they are taped down securely to prevent tripping.
- Make sure that no body parts are exposed to moving equipment parts.
- Report all incidents, accidents, and / or safety hazards involving medical equipment to Feeling Great. These reports must eventually be in writing.
- Keep all disposable supplies in a clean, dry area and do not open the package until you're ready to them.
What’s Included With Your CPAP / BiPAP Machine
Your machine will come with a six-foot hose, power cord, at least one filter, and manuals. Most manufacturers include a carrying case which is designed specifically for their equipment. Your machine will not come with a delivery system or mask. CPAP masks must be purchased separately.
Most CPAP and Bi-level machines today are designed to operate on both AC and DC battery currents. In the United States, the AC current from wall outlets is 110 volts and most batteries produce 12 volts of DC current. Overseas, the AC current is usually 220 or 240 volts.
CPAP and BiPAP Masks
Using the right mask is essential to the success of your treatment. You will need a mask this is comfortable and fits properly. It should form a good seal on your face so that air doesn't leak (this would be uncomfortable and make your therapy less effective).
A nasal mask which covers the nose is the most common. However, some people breathe through their mouth when they sleep. In this case, a full face mask that covers both the nose and mouth is the best option.
Another option would be to use a nasal mask and chinstrap. This will prevent your jaw from opening during sleep and still provide for effective therapy.
If your machine is on the floor, you’ll probably need to wipe off excess condensation more often (because air is generally cooler closer to the floor). You’ll also want to dust your machine more often and make sure that it’s “bug-free.”
Equipment Maintenance and Supplies
The only care you are required to do for machines is to clean or change the filters at the air intake of the machine to keep the internal parts from accumulating dust. Here are some more tips on caring for your machine:
- Keep the area around your machine clean and be sure to remove all dust. This will ensure that you continue to receive optimum air quality.
- Keep the air intake of the machine unblocked. Curtains, bedding, and papers can easily block the air intake and reduce the airflow to your machine.
- With most machines, it is easy to spill water from the humidifier into the machine and cause damage. Therefore, if you have a humidifier, avoid picking up your machine when the humidifier attached. Instead, empty the water from the chamber every morning.
- We highly recommend that you take your machine into Feeling Great’s CPAP clinic every six months to have it re-calibrated and cleaned by one of our certified CPAP clinicians.
We advise our patients to have theirs checked at least every six months, even though many manufacturers recommend that you have your machine tested once a year.
Need to pick up supplies? Here’s a quick general guide for how often you’ll need various refills. Be sure, however, to check with your insurance carrier because there are differences in coverage.
- 1 Month – Face cushion / nasal seal cushion, nasal pillows, device filters.
- 3 Month – Mask (excludes headgear) and tubing.
- 6 Month – Headgear, chin strap, humidifier water chamber.
Cleaning Your Equipment
Always use distilled water in your machine. This will significantly prolong its life. Tap water generally contains fluoride and other germ killers that may be harmful to your lungs.
Spend a few minutes each day, cleaning your equipment. For quick cleaning we suggest using one a solution of 1 part distilled white vinegar to 2 parts water. The wipes and sprays make cleaning mask cushions easy and every few days you can wash your mask out more thoroughly using hot soapy water. (Always make sure you remove all of the soap, otherwise you may have bubbles in your machine.)
There are many methods available for cleaning your mask and hose. Most manufacturers of CPAP masks include cleaning instructions in the packaging. Baby shampoo or ivory bar soap is often used as well.
Infection Control Instructions
In an effort to minimize the spread of germs and disease related to medical equipment, we offer the following suggestions to patients/clients, family members, and caregivers.
The following is considered hazardous for infectious materials termed regulated waste:
- Liquid or semi-liquid blood or Other Potential Infectious Materials (OPIM) (i.e. body fluids).
- Items contaminated with blood or OPIM and anything that would release these substances in a liquid or semi-liquid state if compressed.
- Items caked with dried blood or OPIM and are capable of releasing these materials during handling.
- Contaminated sharps.
Universal Precautions: All bodily fluids - wet or dry - on equipment should be considered potentially infectious.
Hand Washing: Hands should be washed with soap and water after handling or cleaning contaminated equipment. Gloves, goggles, and a gown should be worn when cleaning equipment. Use soap and water to wash any other skin exposed to potentially infectious materials.
Remove Any Disposable Material: Dispose of all disposable materials, including rags, in a separate garbage bag for garbage pick-up. Clean all external surfaces with a disinfectant solution. (i.e. 9 parts water to 1 part bleach mix and clean in a well-vented area.)
Sharps, such as lancets used with Blood Glucose Monitor. Used lancets can be put in an empty coffee can and covered with a plastic lid. When the can is full, tape the plastic lid to the can and place the full can in a garbage bag for garbage pick-up (certain states require different disposal methods).
- Always disconnect electric powered equipment for power sources before cleaning.
- Never submerge electric powered equipment or items with electrical components in water or liquids and do not use excessively wet cloths / sponges when cleaning.
- A cleaning solution of mild soap and warm water is recommended for normal cleaning.
- A solution of 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water is recommended for infection/germ control.
- Never use any cleaning solution or agent that might harm people or damage their bodies or skin.
- Discard cleaning solution after each use; do not reuse.
- If the patient or caregiver has a negative reaction to the cleaning agent, check with his or her physician.
Drying Your CPAP Hoses
After cleaning your tubes and hoses in warm soapy water and rinsing them thoroughly, you can dry them by leaving them alone for a while or using one or more of the techniques listed below. It’s a good idea to have two hoses so you can rotate them as necessary.
- Spin the tube gently. The centrifugal force pulls the water to the outside of the tube.
- Tie a fishing weight to a nylon string, paper or cloth towel, or other fabric and pull it through the tubing.
- Set a hair dryer on low and blow it through the connector hose (you can even duct-tape it to the end if you’d like to leave it there for a while)
- Place the hose in a freezer for a couple of hours. The droplets will freeze and fall off the hose surface when you flex it from the outside.
At a minimum you should change your filters once a month. We, however, recommend that you do so twice per month (and this is the amount allowed by most insurance carriers). You should especially change the filters if they are changing colors.
Water Build-Up in Chamber
- Daily: pour out last night’s water, rinse and air-dry.
- Weekly: disinfect 1 part white (distilled) vinegar, 2 parts water (approximately 1/3 cup of white vinegar to 2/3 cup water); shake until the entire inside surface is dry – sit 15-20 minutes – Rinse clear and smell to be sure all vinegar is gone.
Replacing or Updating Your Machine
- Insurance carriers generally allow patients to upgrade to a new machine every five years, but it's a good idea to double-check your coverage before replacing or updating your machine.
- Also, if you feel that your current machine is too big or overly bulky there are smaller machines available. Your Feeling Great Respiratory Equipment consultant will be glad to answer your specific questions regarding these.