How to Find and Change Air Filters on CPAP Machines

Clean Air Depends on Regular Filter Replacement

Finding the CPAP air filters are important to regularly replace them
Finding the CPAP air filters are important to regularly replace them. Brandon Peters, M.D.

If you use continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) to treat your obstructive sleep apnea, you may be familiar with most of the ways to keep your CPAP clean. However, one key element often escapes people’s notice: How do you change the filters on the CPAP machine? Whether you are using the latest model from ResMed or Respironics, two of the major manufacturers of the equipment, learn how to find (and how often to change) these air filters to keep yourself healthy.

What Is a CPAP Filter?

The CPAP machine takes in room air, filters it, and pressurizes it to deliver therapy to keep your airway from collapsing during sleep. Much like the very first model - a modified vacuum cleaner - these more modern devices can also suck up debris from the environment. This may include dust, pet dander, smoke, and other potential allergens. The filter is designed to clear these elements from the air that is directed into the machine and ultimately to your lungs.

Most filters are made of disposable materials. The most common ones are paper, foam, or a woven synthetic material that feels like polyester batting.

Where Is My CPAP’s Filter Located on the Machine?

Depending on the make and model of your CPAP machine, the filters may be located in different locations. If you have trouble finding yours, you might ask your durable medical equipment provider for some assistance.

On the newest ResMed AirSense 10 CPAP unit, the filter is located at the left side under a plastic flap that looks like a grate.

The white synthetic filter sits in this flap-like piece. When the flap door is open and the filter is removed you can see the intake hole for air, which is about the size of a nickel.

On the Philips Respironics DreamStation CPAP unit, there are actually two filters. These are located on the left side in a removable piece.

One is quite small, and disposable. The other is used longer term and cradles the disposable filter. The more permanent filter should be cleaned periodically with water.

How Often Should I Change My CPAP Filter?

It is very important to regularly change your CPAP filters. If these become dirty, the air that you breathe in with the device will likewise be unclean. These filters are very inexpensive. If you pay for them out of pocket, it would cost only roughly $2 per month to keep them new. In general, it is recommended that the filters be changed or cleaned at least once per month. Some insurance will pay for new filters every 2 weeks.

The ResMed filter should be outright replaced at this frequency. The longer term filter on the Respironics machine should be rinsed clean monthly and the disposable filter underneath should also be fully replaced each month.

If you are in a particularly dirty or dusty environment, you may choose to replace your filters more often. By regularly checking the filter initially, you will be able to determine how dirty it is becoming and whether increased replacement is necessary.

Even if the filter appears clean, it should be replaced on at least a monthly basis.

Final Steps in Replacing the Filters

After you have removed the dirty filter each month, simply replace it with a new one, following the instructions for your model. The final step is to reassemble the filter’s housing as it was before. In the Respironics machine, this simply requires layering the filters and sliding them back in place. On the ResMed unit, you can place the filter and gently close the flap, clicking the filter into place.

Keep yourself healthy and replace your filters as often as you should!

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