Troubleshooting your CPAP – Simple Fixes Work

  • By Clay Rollyson
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Whether you are new to CPAP or you have been a long-time user, you will have times when the CPAP gives you trouble. Most of the time it’s no big deal. Other times it can be a big problem. Most CPAP manufacturers expect their device to last about 5 years. Additionally, they typically warranty their CPAPs for about 2 years. We have seen customer bring in CPAPs that are over 10 years old. This means that they are built to last, and complete failures are pretty rare. So, when something seems wrong, there’s a pretty good chance that there is a resolution.

A few common issues with CPAP:

There are a few very common issues with CPAPs. Luckily those issues are typically resolved with minor troubleshooting techniques or by adding in helpful upgrades. Let’s look at a couple issues a little closer.

Water in the CPAP Tube:

If you are over-doing the humidity, you can experience water in your tubing or mask. This is called “rainout”. We have a complete blog and video on that subject here to help.

CPAP Running out of Water:

Another issue that can occur regarding the humidifier is when your CPAP runs out of water. This can be just as difficult to deal with as the CPAP providing too much humidity. We have a complete blog and video to help with that issue here as well. 

CPAP randomly shutting off on its own:

This issue is almost always due to the “Auto-off” feature on the CPAP. If you have an excessive leak from your mask, tube, or humidifier, then the machine can misunderstand the leak as you taking the mask off. When the machine thinks that you have taken the mask off, the CPAP will shut itself down. Resolving the leak or disabling the “Auto-off” feature can usually fix this issue. Click here to visit our tutorial on resolving this problem in detail. 

Weird noises from the CPAP Machine:

This is another very common issue on CPAP. In almost every case the issue will boil down to a failure of a replaceable part. If you have not replaced the filter, humidifier chamber, CPAP tube, or mask in the last few months, then that should be your first step. The noise you are hearing is usually something to do with leaking air or restricted air flow. If changing the parts doesn’t resolve this issue, then you should refer to our CPAP Repair page for further help by clicking here.

How do I know if something is really wrong with my CPAP?

This may be the most important question. This is because typically the issues you are having are related to a part that has worn out and needs to be replaced. Below we have details on that. But how would you know if something is really not working correctly on the CPAP machine? One quick way to find this out is to look at your CPAP report. We have a great detailed blog here on how to understand those reports. The report will show how well the CPAP is working as well as leaks and other relevant information. Additionally, you can consult with your doctor or CPAP provider for them to review your data. Usually, an issue will be fairly easy to see on these reports. Aside from the reporting, you can check your CPAP pressure on a manometer. This tool allows you to see what the output pressure is from your CPAP. We have a great tutorial on that here as well.

How to prevent CPAP issues from the start:

Hopefully you are reading this prior to an issue, and you can avoid reading the rest of this blog for a long time. There are a few very important and inexpensive things that you can do to make that happen. Let’s take a quick look at those so that we can get you off to a good start and avoid the pitfalls.

Keep the dad’gum filter clean:

I cannot tell you how many customers walk into our office with a “broken” CPAP and have no idea that there is a filter in it. I am not sure how that is possible, but it happens a lot. The CPAP will not function for long without a clean filter in it. Just like your home AC, your vehicle, or anything else that moves air, the CPAP has to breath. The easier it can breathe the longer it will last. The major difference with the CPAP versus those other machines, is that the CPAP is also keeping you breathing. So, it is pretty important to keep the CPAP filter clean.

Don’t avoid replacing parts:

The most common noise related issue on a CPAP is an air leak. Leaking air can make all sorts of noises. That will lead you to think that all sorts of things are wrong. When you don’t replace things like your Tubing or your Mask Seal, then you will experience these issues. It is ALWAYS best to replace parts on a routine maintenance basis rather than as “as needed” basis. We have the ability to set you up on a recurring supply shipment to make sure that these issues don’t occur.

What if something is wrong with my CPAP?

The answer to this question will depend on what exactly is going wrong with the CPAP. In most cases you are experiencing one of two things. First would be a weird noise. That noise is almost always dues to a leak somewhere. Best option is to pull everything apart and put it all back together and see if the problem persists. From the water chamber to the mask seal. Pull it apart, inspect the connection points, and put it back together. Second issue we hear about all the time is pressure issues. This issue can be very complicated, because everyone’s therapy settings are different. Additionally, a ton of people use Auto CPAPs. Auto CPAPs adjust on their own to your best therapy pressure. Click here to learn how an Auto CPAP works. For this issue you should follow the same technique above to see if a performance issue is the key. Leaks can cause all sorts of pressure related issues.

What is the issue didn’t resolve after initial CPAP troubleshooting?

To me the next step is to replace parts. It is a heck of a lot easier and cheaper to replace the parts than it is to replace the CPAP. There are 3 important parts to maintain proper performance. First is the filter, second is the tubing, and third is the mask seal. A very cheap and easy way to get all that replaced is one of our Supply Bundles. If all 3 of those parts are brand new and you still have issues, then it may be time to consider repair or replacement. For that step we have a great blog that will take you down that path. Click here to learn about CPAP repair.