Sleep apnea patients utilizing CPAP therapy must perform routine maintenance on their equipment for optimal results. Part of this maintenance regimen includes regularly cleaning parts like CPAP masks, tubing and humidifier. CPAP equipment and parts also require periodic replacement from everyday wear and tear. When it comes to replacing that old or worn out CPAP equipment, patients should err on the side of caution, as using items past their recommended lifespan could restrict the efficacy of your CPAP therapy.
Suggested CPAP Equipment Cleaning Schedules
The most important benefit of regularly cleaning CPAP equipment is that helps ensure your CPAP therapy is safe and sanitary. A secondary benefit to regular cleaning is improved durability and optimal performance of the parts. This is particularly true for CPAP mask cushions, which directly contact the patient’s face and accumulate dirt and grime that may compromise an effective seal.
“Typically we recommend cleaning the CPAP mask cushions at least every other day because it decreases the amount of grease on them and makes them seal better,” confirms Board Certified Sleep Physician and Sleep Direct founder Dr. Dan Root. “It’s important to clean the hose and tubing every couple of weeks, rinsing them through vinegar to sanitize them and then rinsing that out. As for the humidifier, there’s a removable canister or chamber that you should clean every week or so, and then let it dry out so that things like bacteria don’t grow in it.”The cleaning process can be simplified and streamlined by a purpose-built CPAP cleaner. The most popular and positively reviewed cleaner amongst Sleep Direct customers is the SoClean 2 CPAP Cleaner & Sanitizer, which channels activated oxygen to sanitize and kill a claimed 99.9% of the germs and viruses that could infect your equipment. SoClean, as well as other brands, produce CPAP mask wipes, a convenient solution to keeping the mask cushion clean.
CPAP Supplies & Parts Replacement
CPAP equipment requires periodic replacement, with some parts more durable than others. In fact, some CPAP parts and supplies, particularly filters, are designed to be disposable. Other parts, while more durable, require regular replacements at varying intervals. Patients are also wise to keep backups on hand for key components, particularly for tubing, masks and seals, as a defective part can render your CPAP therapy ineffective until a replacement arrives.
The cost of replacement parts and supplies are an understandable concern for consumers, however, most insurance benefits cover replacement parts according to set schedule that varies from plan to plan. (Curious about how to submit a claim for reimbursement? Read Sleep Direct’s primer on Health Insurance & Reimbursement for CPAP Therapy Equipment. And if insurance coverage is an issue, just remember that Sleep Direct is committed to providing cost-effective solutions for all of our customers. This is why we offer steep discounts on many CPAP replacement parts and supplies, as well as produce our very own low-cost house-branded SleepDirect CPAP products for the most commonly replaced item like filters, hoses and masks.
The following CPAP replacement schedules and maintenance tips are general guidelines posted as a convenience to our customers, with HCPCS billing codes for insurance claims included. These recommendations are based on the general information compiled from private insurance companies. As always, contact your insurance directly for their specific rules regarding replacement schedules, as well as the process for authorization and reimbursement, all of which can differ dependent on the insurance company and individual plan benefits. And please consult with your medical provider for questions about your therapy equipment or prescription.
Recommended CPAP Equipment Replacement Schedules:
CPAP FiltersCPAP filters vary from machine to machine, but can be broken down into two basic types: disposable and non-disposable. As the name implies, disposable filters are designed for shorter use and discarded, requiring at least a monthly replacement. Most non-disposable filters are a foam material that can be cleaned and reused, thus requiring a less frequent replacement interval.
- A7038 – Disposable Filter (2 filters per month)
- A7039 – Non-disposable filter (2 filters every 6 months)
CPAP Tubing / HoseCPAP tubing and hoses can last a long time, so long as they are cleaned regularly and don’t suffer a puncture. Heated tubing, while more expensive, requires the same maintenance and replacement interval.
“Some insurance plans replace tubing every month or so, but that’s overkill because if you clean them you don’t need to replace the tube very much. However, it’s always good to have a backup tube just in case you get a hole in it or something,” advises Dr. Root.
- A7037 – CPAP Tubing (3 months)
- A4604 – Heated Tubing (3 months)
CPAP Masks & CushionsCPAP masks should be replaced every three months, while the mask cushion requires more frequent replacement. Patients can extend the life of their mask cushions by regularly washing or using CPAP mask wipes, but the cushion material will gradually soften and need to be swapped out for a fresh unit. Nasal masks and nasal pillows need more frequent replacement, up to twice per month, while full face mask cushions should be changed monthly.
“I recommend replacing mask seals every month or so. If you clean them really well you don’t necessarily need to do that, but a new cushion tends to result in better sealing. ” says Dr. Root “And much like a keeping a spare tube on hand, it’s always good to have a backup mask as well in case something goes wrong, because there are a couple of hard pieces in the mask that sometimes break.”
- A7034 – CPAP Mask (3 months)
- A7030 – Full Face Mask (3 months)
- A7031 – Full Face Mask Cushion (1 per month)
- A7044 – Nasal Face Mask (3 months)
- A7032 – Nasal Face Mask Cushion (2 per month)
- A7034 – Nasal Pillows Mask (3 months)
- A7033 – Nasal Pillows Cushion (2 per month)
HeadgearHeadgear lasts longer than the mask it’s connected too, but it will eventually stretch out and lose elasticity. A replacement headgear should be fitted every 3–6 months. Consumers should note that headgear has a separate HCPCS code (A7035), so when purchased together with the mask there should be two HCPCS codes included for billing and reimbursement purposes. A chin strap, which helps keep the mouth closed for patients using nasal masks, follows similar replacement guidelines as those for headgear, with a 6-month interval recommended.
- A7035 – CPAP Headgear (3–6 months)
- A7036 – CPAP Chin Strap (6 months)
Humidifier designs include standard pass-over humidifiers and heated humidifiers. Most humidifiers are fully-integrated into the PAP machine’s design, with a removable chamber holding the water reservoir that provides the moisture. It’s very important that patients regularly clean and sanitize the humidification chamber (as well as any associated parts, like hose and filters) to ensure bacteria and other germs don’t colonize the moist environment. It’s recommended that humidifier chambers be replaced every six months.
- E0561 – CPAP Humidifier
- E0562 – CPAP Heated Humidifier
- A7046 – Humidifier Chamber Every (6 months)
Most CPAP machines are quite durable and should operate for years without serious problems. A new machine may be required after several years of use, or to replace accidental damage or repair. Fortunately, most modern PAP devices offer wireless connectivity and self-diagnostic tools that can alert the patient, or the medical service monitoring remotely, that there is a problem.
- E0601 – CPAP Machine (3–5 years)
- E0470 – BiPAP Machine (3–5 years)
- E0471 – BiPAP-ST Machine (3–5 years)