February 18, 2021

CPAP Filters: Why CPAP filters are so important

CPAP Filters: Why CPAP filters are so important

Have you ever changed the filter from an air conditioning unit?

If the answer is yes, then you've probably seen a black layer of unwanted dust and dirt trapped in the filter. It's not a pretty picture.

These filters capture billions of dust particles, pathogens in the air around us, cleaning the air we breathe into our lungs. Maybe as you are reading this, it serves as a reminder to check your AC filter.

CPAP filters work similarly in our CPAP machines, removing harmful particles that can make you sick and prevent you from receiving high-quality sleep apnea therapy. CPAP filters also ensure your CPAP machine and CPAP equipment works efficiently, increasing the lifespan of your device.

This article will cover a few key points:

  • What is a CPAP filter?
  • When to clean or replace your filter?
  • How to change your air filters on CPAP machines?
  • Types of CPAP Filters
  • Benefits of a clean CPAP air filter
  • Troubleshooting for filter problems

What is a CPAP filter?

A CPAP machine filter is an important part of your CPAP machine and your CPAP therapy in general, for treating obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) the healthy way. It's one of the most important CPAP supplies you will need to ensure a healthy air quality during your treatment. 

Its job is to remove bacteria, allergens, mold, and even larger particles found in the air in your bedroom, including pet dander, dust mites, and airborne tars from cigarette smoke using a filtration system. 

Filters protect your CPAP machine as well as your respiratory system. The  CPAP machine takes in air from the room, filters it, and pressurizes it to deliver therapy to keep your airway during sleep.

The filters are designed to clear potentially harmful elements from the air that are directed into the machine and ultimately to your lungs to protect your respiratory system and guarantee that you receive high air quality therapy. 

When to clean or replace your filter?

The recommendation for CPAP filter replacement is once every 30 days, but not more. However, if the filter looks discolored or has visible residue, it should be replaced immediately. 

Environmental factors can affect how regularly you need to change your filter. If you smoke or have pets that shed a lot, your filter may get dirtier faster. Some households have more problems with interior pollutants than others.

If you have more dust than usual (you reside near a construction site, for instance), or you use a wood-burning fireplace frequently, you may notice that your filters need replacing and cleaning more often.

In this case, you might consider vacuum-cleaning your sleeping area more frequently to cut down on the volume of dust, or using an air purifier unit to improve the air quality you breath and protect your CPAP or bipap machine from added pollutants.

Also, if you light scented candles or incense in your room or near your CPAP machine, you may notice black dust accumulating in the filter and may have to replace the filter sooner. When candle wax burns, it produces small black particles that attach to things around the house, especially on walls or carpet. If a CPAP machine is running simultaneously, those particles will get caught by the filter.

Built-in dual filters are washable filters, that should be removed and rinsed clean every 2 weeks. After 6 months, you should replace it entirely with a new filter.

Disposable filters general recommendations for filter replacement are to change monthly (not more). However, you should check every 2 weeks unless you live in a household with pets, smokers, more dust than usual, or a wood-burning stove: then, check it once weekly for signs it is ready to be replaced. You'll know (trust us) because the white paper will be coated with a dirty gray layer of debris.

How to change your air filters on CPAP machines?

Changing your filters is an easy process, which is great because this makes it more likely that you'll do it on time consistently. 

Filters are typically located in the back of your machine, where the device draws air from the rooms. 

Some machines allow usage of both types of filters, in this case, place the thinner disposable filter in first, then the thicker reusable filter last. This way, the reusable foam filter can trap the larger particles, and the disposable filters can catch the finer debris. However, using only one kind of filter is also acceptable.

Types of CPAP Filters

All PAP machines (CPAP, bi-level or BiPAP, APAPs, etc.) use a filter to clean the air in your room before it gets into your airways. 

There are two types of CPAP filter, most CPAP machines utilize a dual filter system, while others use a thinner paper filter, which is disposable.

The dual filter, also called foam filters, is built-in to the machine at the air intake. This permanent and washable filter is composed of absorbent foam that is removed for washing.

Disposable filters are usually made of a thinner paper-like material and cannot be reused. The material is electrostatically charged and attracts particles in the air to keep them out of your CPAP machine, and requires regular replacement.

Disposable filters are ideal for CPAP users that suffer from allergies or other sensitivities and are looking for an easy option for maintaining their machine. These disposable filters should be replaced every 30 days or as soon as it becomes discolored or has visible residue. Medicare guidelines allow up to one filter every two weeks.

CPAP machine filters may vary from machine to machine. So check compatibility prior to purchasing. These are our top choices, feel free to explore other brands specific to your machine.

Resmed Disposable Ultra Fine Filters: these disposable ultra-fine filters prevent fine particles and dirt from entering your sleep apnea therapy device and your airways. They are original ResMed branded filters compatible with all AirMini Travel CPAP machines.

Benefits of a clean CPAP air filter

Clean air is the main benefit of using a CPAP filter, yet it's important to adhere to a consistent replacement schedule for optimal results.

Pressurized air delivered to your upper airway needs to be free of harmful micro contaminants making it safe and healthy to breathe. Otherwise, you may be introducing pathogens and other irritants that could worsen your respiratory health.

Clean air from your CPAP machines guarantees a healthy sleep apnea therapy that improves your sleep quality, keeping your respiratory health in check.

Not only is a clean air filter positive for your health, but it also improves and increases the state and lifespan of your CPAP device, an investment you want to protect.

Troubleshooting for filter problems

If you feel your CPAP machine is not delivering sufficient air, it's always a good idea to check your filters first to see if they need cleaning or replacement.

Dirty filters can impact the quality of your therapy and may even prevent your machine from functioning properly.

Final thoughts

One of the most important parts of CPAP machines, and devices in general, is keeping them clean. 

Keeping up with a healthy cleaning schedule that includes washing all the parts of your CPAP therapy using cleaning solutions such as wipes, cleaning machines, and other cleaning accessories and replacing your CPAP filters diligently will help you maintain an effective sleep apnea therapy. 

Written by Karina Lima

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