How Often Should I Replace My CPAP Equipment and Supplies?

Simple Guidelines for Replacing CPAP Supplies

CPAP supplies like masks, tubing, and filters can be replaced on a regular schedule to ensure optimal function and benefit to treat sleep apnea
CPAP supplies like masks, tubing, and filters can be replaced on a regular schedule to ensure optimal function and benefit to treat sleep apnea. Juanmonino/Getty Images

It may seem wasteful to replace your CPAP supplies when the equipment looks perfectly fine, but new equipment helps keep the device clean and functioning at its best. How often should you replace your CPAP supplies? Though this may be determined in part by your insurance company, there are some general guidelines that can be followed. 

Your durable medical equipment provider may keep you on schedule for replacement of your supplies, which is very convenient.

It is recommended that you replace the parts as often as insurance is willing to pay for these replacements. However, in your effort to become a well-informed patient, it is also important to understand the anticipated lifespan of your equipment and how often to swap it out. 

If you use continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or bilevel to treat your sleep apnea, you may need to replace:

  • the mask
  • headgear
  • chinstrap
  • tubing (heated or standard)
  • filters (disposable or reusable)
  • humidifier water chamber
  • CPAP device

Let the following information be your guide:

When to Replace Your CPAP Mask

Replace your mask every 3 months.

The mask is the harder plastic portion of your interface. Replace the softer plastic cushion insert or pillows that actually touch your skin more often. 

When to Replace Your CPAP Mask Cushion and Pillows

Replace the mask cushion or nasal pillows as often as 2 times per month.

This is the part of the mask that actually touches your face.

If it is a piece you can separate from the rest of the mask’s harder plastic framework, chances are you will replace it independently. If you have a full-face mask, plan to replace this cushion once per month.

When to Replace Your CPAP Headgear

In general, replace headgear every 6 months.

Neoprene is the stretchy material that helps to accommodate the shape of your head to ensure an optimal mask.

As it repeatedly stretches, it may start to give too much and not keep a proper seal. In addition, oils from your skin or hair may also accumulate. If the headgear appears discolored or no longer holds a seal, it is time to replace it.

When to Replace Your CPAP Chinstrap

Replace your chinstrap every 6 months.

Much like the headgear that keeps the CPAP mask in place, a chinstrap may gradually weaken and become overly stretched. The Velcro may also become less effective over time. 

When to Replace Your CPAP Tubing

Replace CPAP tubing, whether it is heated or standard, every 3 months.

Tubing gets dirty over time, with condensation increasing the risk of contaminants that could enter your lungs. Small holes that form as the plastic of the tubing breaks down reduces the treatment's efficacy. 

When to Replace Your CPAP Filters

Your CPAP machine may have two types of filters, both of which require regular replacement. Keeping these relatively inexpensive components as clean as possible will ensure the purity of the air you breathe as well as the long-term functionality of your device.

The older Respironics machines have a gray foam filter you should rinse often and replace every 6 months. Beneath it, there is a white paper filter you replace every 2 weeks.

The newer DreamStation has two integrated filters that can be replaced with this same frequently.

The ResMed AirSense machines have a white-colored filter you replace every 2 weeks

When to Replace Your CPAP Humidifier Water Chamber

Replace the water tank that functions as the humidifier every 6 months.

If your CPAP has an integrated or attached heated humidifier, clean and occasionally replace the water chamber. Not using distilled water may lead to further problems with keeping the water reservoir clean. 

When to Replace Your CPAP or Bilevel Device

Typically, insurance will pay to replace the entire PAP device every 5 years.

If you change insurance or pay out of pocket, you may be able to replace the unit sooner. If there are problems within the first 2 to 3 years, it may be replaced or repaired under the manufacturer's warranty. Malfunction that occurs between the third and fifth year of use may be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by your supplier.

There may be some variability in how often you are eligible for supply replacement, so speak with your durable medical equipment provider, board-certified sleep medicine physician, or insurance company to clarify your schedule as needed.

Sources:

"Knowing when to replace your supplies." ResMed.

Levinson DR. "Replacement Schedules for Medicare Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Supplies." Department of Health and Human Services.

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