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Troubleshooting Guide for CPAP Patients

Q:     What if my mask leaks?

A:     If the mask leaks there are several things that may be wrong.  First, make sure the mask is fitting properly to the frame.  The MIRAGE and ULTRA MIRAGE masks may be removed from the frame for cleaning.  If the mask is in the frame correctly, place the mask back on and check the fit of the mask.  Second, it may be on too tight or too loose.  If the mask continues to leak, a thin layer of KY JELLY or MOLESKIN may be applied to the area of the mask that touches the face.  If the mask continues to leak, call your DME Company for an appointment to have the technician check the mask and headgear for proper fit and condition of the mask.


Q:     How often do I clean my CPAP unit, mask, hose, headgear and humidifier?

A:     All equipment should be cleaned every week.  The mask should be cleaned with HAIR SHAMPOO and rinsed with water.  The hose(s) and humidifier should be cleaned with a solution of 1 part VINEGAR and 3 parts WATER every week as well.  Pour solution through the hose(s), rinse with water, and hang to dry.  The headgear can also be hand washed with HAIR SHAMPOO, rinsed with water and laid flat to dry.  Cleaning the equipment properly and as scheduled will lessen the chance of a sinus or upper respiratory infection.  NOTE:  NEVER PUT ANY CPAP EQUIPMENT IN THE DISHWASHER, WASHING MACHINE OR DRYER.


Q:     What is the life span of the mask and headgear?

A:     The life span may vary from individual to individual.  The average life span is one year to eighteen months.  This depends on the care and cleaning of the equipment.  The better the mask and headgear are taken care of, the longer they will last.


Q:     Do I continue to use CPAP if I have a cold or sinus congestion?

A:     NO!!  If you develop a cold, sinus congestion or an upper respiratory infection, DISCONTINUE CPAP.  If your physician allows you, take an over-the-counter decongestant (e.g., Sudafed or Actifed).  These may help alleviate some of the symptoms and discomfort.  If symptoms continue or you begin to run a fever, contact your primary care physician or a physician at Branson Institute of Sleep.  You may RESUME CPAP AFTER you can breathe freely through your nose.


Q:     How often do I change the filters?

A:     Check your filters every 2 months.  When necessary, discard and replace the white filter.  The black filter can be rinsed with clear water.  Allow it to dry before placing it back in the CPAP unit.  If you receive your CPAP unit from Branson Institute of Sleep, call us to receive new filters.


Q:     How do I get replacement parts?

A:     Replacement parts may be ordered from your HOME HEALTH CARE COMPANY.  It may be necessary to get an order from the physician’s office that set you up on CPAP.  If you received your CPAP unit from Branson Institute of Sleep, call us to receive new replacement parts.


Q:     What should I do if my CPAP UNIT BREAKS OR IS DAMAGED?

A:     The first thing to do is to be sure and send your warranty card to the manufacturer as soon as you have received your new CPAP unit.  If damage or malfunction occurs, contact the agency you received your CPAP unit from regarding any repairs.  They will assist you from that point on.


Q:     Can I be strangled by the CPAP hose?

A:     NO!!  The hose has been designed to swivel to avoid just such an occurrence.
(Edit / small correction: In a few rare cases of CPAP hose strangulation has been reported, the chances of it happening to you are very low so in the vast majority of cases there is no need to worry. Here is a small feedback from one such case “It was scary to say the least! It took me a quite a few minutes to figure out what has happeneing and to get myself untangled”. So as you can see it is not the most pleasant experience, however, again to stress, according to all the reports collected getting strangled by a CPAP hose is very rare.)


Q:     What should I do if the power goes out or during an electrical storm?

A:     In the case of a power failure, remove the mask and try to go back to sleep.  The CPAP unit has a built-in surge protector and will not be damaged by a power surge.  During an electrical storm, using CPAP equipment is not a problem.  CPAP equipment is not a conductor of electricity.  In addition, the CPAP mask has been designed to avoid suffocation if the patient is breathing with the mask while the power is off.  Although it may not be comfortable, it should not cause you any harm.


Q:     Can I smoke while using CPAP?

A:     No


Source: Branson Institute of Sleep


  1. haha! I actually wondered exactly the same thing about the CPAP hose strangling 🙂

  2. first time my CPAP leaked I really freaked out

  3. nice CPAP guide, thanks, looking forward to your other articles