CPAP: any reason to replace parts before they break?

Been using a CPAP for several months now. The medical supply store is sending me parts on a set schedule, with my insurance paying part of the cost, and me paying the rest. There’s a particulate filter on the base unit’s air intake that of course needs to be replaced when air flow gets restricted by clogging, but what about the rest of the parts - the hose, the nasal frame, the nasal cushion? Given that I wash these frequently, is there any reason to replace them before they actually break?

Yes, to increase the profits of the supplier and the insurance company.

The filters on all of my CPAP machines have been washable foam. Note: i have never used a humidifier with my CPAP so if that is involved it may void my advice.

I gave up using the supplier that my insurance company wanted me to use because they wouldn’t replace individual parts, I had to replace the whole thing (mask and hose) even if the only thing wrong was a tear in the soft plastic mask. I can get replacement parts online, without a prescription (some vendors do require a prescription but many don’t) and for less than I was paying with co-pay – which is another gripe I had against the insurance company and their supplier, the prices were outrageous. Also I was able to shop for different/better mask styles, without getting permission to try them.

You can check this out for yourself before cutting the cord.

I even bought my last two CPAP machines online, they were both able to be set by me, the user, even though the previous provider would have me think it was magic voodoo that only they could do.

You can tell I’m prejudiced against insurance companies and their preferred providers. Yours may be wonderful. I have never seen any reason to replace something before it breaks. I do have a spare mask and hose that I can use for a few days until a new one arrives, because I really can’t sleep without CPAP, and I hate not sleeping.

Those parts may be prone to harboring pathogens. Unless you have an autoclave you may not be able to disinfect them.

My doctor advised replacing the face cushion every month. Apparently the oils in the skin break down the material of the cushion. I’ve followed her advice and it does seem to help with leaking. Everything else seems to hold up if you rinse them with bleach. Sterilizers are also available and seem pretty cheap.

Agreed mostly. I don’t replace my cushion every month but don’t like to go more than two.

When I tried to order replacement parts for my CPAP last year I was told that since I was now on Medicare I needed to meet certain requirements to get them. After several months of back-and-forthing between my supplier and my neurologist I ended up having to go in for a new sleep study, which resulted in getting a new CPAP machine last March. Then when I tried to order replacement parts for the new machine, I got the same runaround from my supplier. I wasn’t able to get supplies until September, which meant that I had not been able to replace my filter and mask for nearly six months. I’m due for another set of replacements in three months, and I’m wondering whether I’m going to get the same runaround then.

On the other hand, between Medicare and my supplemental health policy my CPAP and supplies are completely covered, so at least I don’t have any out of pocket costs.

One of the biggest “independent” suppliers out there is - their prices are often better than what your DME has been billing. Also tons of user reviews on machines, masks, etc., so you can read up and get an idea if your DME’s replacement schedule seems excessive or not. (I have no relation with them except as a past customer.)

The replacement schedules are pretty much set up to guarantee you’re not actually harmed by CPAP. After so many years of experience, it’s pretty well known how long a hose can be used and how many times it can be cleaned at home before it becomes a mold hazard, for example. Similarly, they have an idea of how many times a snap or clasp on a mask can be used before it breaks.

The squishy bits (mask pads & seals) do break down fairly quickly with skin contact - they absorb skin oil, cosmetics residue, etc. and will either get stiff so they don’t conform to your face and seal well, or they get gummy and don’t seal well.

Mask frames are not the most durable things in the world, so if your DME wants to send you a new one at six months, they may be right. One option may be to keep a backup as one day, something will tear or snap.

Commodity things like hoses and filters can often be had cheaper at Walmart. I believe most current humidifier tanks can be opened and run through the dishwasher, so replacing those at six months might be on the excessive side unless you drop it and it cracks or the seal leaks. I have no experience with the “So Clean” thing that claims to sanitize your mask, tank, and hose. I’m assuming it uses a mix of UV light and ozone, both of which will tend to accelerate breakdown of the plastics, so you have the option of a nicely sanitized system that won’t get you sick by blowing mold into your sinuses but at the possible expense of needing to follow the recommended replacement schedules much more closely.

One of the things I noticed when I ordered my supplies was being asked something along the lines of “do you have any unused supplies?” with the implication that I couldn’t get replacement supplies until I’d used up my old ones. I don’t remember ever being asked that before, and I’m wondering if it’s a Medicare requirement.

I’d looked into the So Clean system and the consensus seems to be that it’s useless and unnecessary - just a way to get CPAP users to spend more money.

These posts do not describe my experience. I wear my full-face cushion for months and months until it actually shows damage. It has never seemed either hard or gummy, the most common damage is usually a small tear. I am a fussy sleeper and frequently (for example) reach my finger under my mask to scratch my nose. But I always get a good nights sleep from my CPAP.

I post this only to provide another viewpoint. I don’t know why my experience would be so different. I do have skin on the dry side, but I’m sure I have skin oil on my face to some degree.

As far as Medicare goes, that’s one main reason I have been buying my own CPAP machines when necessary, i.e. that I didn’t want to have another sleep test.

It depends. If you have any immune system issues then change them out.

My mask is engineered to fail after so many torsional twists. It will probably last 6 months of normal use. I wear it to failure and clean it regularly. Same thing with the hoses. they’re easy to clean.

One thing to consider, is how dependent are you on the system. I can’t sleep without it. It’s a nightmare for me. So I have backup masks/hoses/filters and I went so far as to buy a backup unit in case mine fails. This was after it actually failed on me and it took weeks to get repaired. Never again.

I also have a 12 volt connector in case of power outage as well as a battery that will work for 2 days.

The filter on mine, and I assume everyone’s, is completely synthetic so I wash it out once a month. I’ve also got a high intensity UV lamp for erasing EPROMS that I run a cycle with to kill everything. You should be fine with a bleach solution wash though.

I also don’t have a problem with the cushions degrading so I just use them until mechanical failure from general wear and tear.