Medical Fixes: How To Tell If CPAP Machine Is Water Damaged

The indicative sign on how to tell if CPAP machine is water damaged is that it does not turn on. If ever it turns on, the screen display might not be working correctly or there is no airflow generated. In both cases, the internal circuits are most likely compromised.

Continuous Positive Air Pressure (CPAP) machines are staples in the bedroom of people diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea. These portable machines help alleviate the discomfort and health implications caused by sleep deprivation.

how to tell if cpap machine is water damaged


What Is A CPAP Machine, And How Do They Work?

CPAP machines were designed to deliver pressurized air to a person’s respiratory tract via a delivery system consisting of tubing and mask. This device is meant to prevent apnea, providing the user with good quality sleep.

CPAP machines employ constant pressure when breathing in and out. This mechanism is also true for APAP (auto-titrating continuous positive air pressure) machines. Still, the latter can adjust the pressure between breaths, depending on the patient’s needs.

On the other hand, BiPAP or Bi-level Positive Air Pressure devices use higher pressure for inhaling to keep the airway open and lower pressure when exhaling for the user’s comfort. BiPAP is more expensive than CPAP and is only recommended for those who cannot tolerate the high pressure of the latter. Other conditions that may warrant BiPAP are for people with neuromuscular disease, hypoxemia, and aerophagia.

In the latest releases of CPAP machines, humidifiers are almost always included in the package. Humidifiers in CPAP machines came about because some users are experiencing dryness in their airways or even nosebleeds. The warmed and humidified air prevents dryness in the throat and nose, providing further comfort in your sleep.


How does water damage the machine?

You might be wondering how a device like CPAP, which runs with a component utilizing water (the humidifier), can be damaged by water. The answer lies in the electronic parts of the device.

As with any electronic device, certain parts of the CPAP machine must never get in contact with water. The internal circuits are sensitive to moisture, especially those involved in the display panel. For devices that use sensors, moisture can mess up with the detection and provide wrong pressure outputs.

Another way water can wreak havoc with your machine is when you use tap water for its operation. Tap water is usually ‘hard,’ which means it contains a significantly high amount of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and iron. These minerals form abrasive deposits in the water chamber and other parts of the CPAP machine, causing the physical breakdown of the plastic and metal components.

The safest way is to use distilled water. This is the recommended type of water by CPAP machine manufacturers. You do not want the warranty of your equipment to be voided just because you use the wrong kind of water, don’t you?


What else can go wrong with a CPAP machine?



The heated air in the humidifier will eventually cool down as it passes through the tubing. The cooled-down air will result in condensation, which fills the tubing with water. This water can then go to the mask.

There are several simple ways to address rainouts. One is to place your CPAP machine below your mask’s level so that any condensation that may form will flow back to the humidifier. Another solution is to adjust the room’s temperature or wrap the tubing under your blankets to keep the air inside warm.

You may also opt to change the setting of your humidifier. With guidance from the equipment provider, lower your humidifier’s temperature setting if you live in a humid or warm place. Lastly, heated tubing is available in the market, which maintains and adjusts the air temperature inside in real-time.


Faulty hot plate

You want the air going to your lungs to be warm, not hot nor cold. If the hot plate that heats the water in the humidifier is not working correctly, have it checked immediately.

Usually, the water chamber must be refilled after two to three days. If it takes longer than that, something is wrong with your humidifier, so it must also be checked.


Apnea persists

The whole point of using a CPAP machine is to eliminate the vibration of the tissue that causes snoring. If the snoring persists and there is no leakage in the mask, the device’s pressure must be increased.

When talking to your sleep doctor about adjusting the pressure of your CPAP machine, they might ask for the AHI (apnea-hypopnea index) reading in the display panel. AHI is the number of breathing interruptions per hour of sleep. A value greater than five would necessitate pressure adjustment most of the time.


Can you use a CPAP machine if you sleep in your stomach?

Gone are the days when CPAP users had to sleep on their backs all night. Various pillows for stomach sleepers, including those who use a CPAP machine, are available nowadays. To further ensure the best quality sleep, mattresses suited for sleep apnea can also be found online or in physical stores.



The easiest way to tell if the CPAP machine is water damaged is by checking if it turns on and operates appropriately. Once confirmed, a water-damaged CPAP machine must be checked by a legitimate service provider and replaced as necessary.

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