Solutions for 10 Common CPAP Machine Problems

Solutions for 10 Common CPAP Machine Problems

Air Leaks

If air is slipping out from behind your mask, you’re not getting the pressure you need to keep your upper airways open so that you continue breathing throughout the night.

Talk to your sleep technologist or your CPAP provider to see if you can adjust the size or change the type of mask you use. If you’re experiencing air leaks, it is possible that your mask does not fit you properly. There are 3 types of masks commonly available in the market: full face mask (covers nose and mouth), nasal mask (covers only nose), and nasal pillow (inserts into your nostrils, least common in air leaks). If you’re constantly experiencing air leaks, consider switching to a nasal pillow!

Inspect your mask periodically to make sure it’s still intact. Damage to the masks like cracks and tears can cause air leaks!

Uncomfortable Mask

Do you feel uncomfortable because the mask you’re wearing is putting pressure on your delicate skin?

Switch the type of mask you use to alleviate pressure and friction. It is not uncommon for people to wear masks that are too tight or too loose, causing friction on their skin. If your mask causes too much pressure, switch the type you use! We mentioned that there are 3 types of masks you can choose from, but there are also many subcategories. It involves a lot of trials and errors before you encounter the perfect one for you!

Note: Nasal masks are only appropriate for nasal breathers! Many people will try using a nasal mask even though they breathe through their mouth. If you tend to breathe through your mouth, or your mouth opens at night, a nasal mask will not work efficiently and can cause discomfort.

Loud Machine

Most new generations of CPAP machines are very quiet, especially compared to the old generations. If you go to sleep one night and find your CPAP machine making loud noises, it may be due to an air leak or a clogged filter.

Go through the entire machine (the mask, the tubing, and the machine itself) to check for air leaks. Check particularly the hoses because they move around a lot at night and can get more damage compared to other areas of the machine. Once you’ve determined where the air leaks come from, replace the component. If the air leaks from the machine itself, check with your manufacturer to see if you can have a replacement.

Change filters regularly. Most CPAP machines require you to change the filter monthly. If you miss changing your filter, it can be clogged and increase the sound of your machine.

Water Build Up (in or on your mask and tube)

If you’re experiencing water build up in your mask and tube, it means that the inner tube and mask is warmer than the environment, or your room temperature, which causes condensation.

Try to equalize the temperature of the inside of your mask and tubing to the environment through:

  1. Increasing the temperature of your bedroom
  2. Running your hose under your blanket so that your body temperature will increase the temperature outside the hose

Note: Most new-age machines have heated tubes that prevent condensation. If you have a relatively new machine and still have the water problem, you may want to talk to the manufacturer to check the heating mechanism. If you have an older machine, you can use adapters to realize heated tubing; if not, consider upgrading your machine!

Hose Tangles

If you move around a lot at night, your hoses may get tangled up. This can be problematic because if your hose is blocked, you will not be able to get the pressure required to keep your airways open.

Opt for an over-the-head tubing system. An over-the head tubing system, as its name suggests, enables you to put the hoses over your bed so the hoses become easier to organize.

Use a CPAP Pillow. A CPAP Pillow is made to position your CPAP and your tubing in a comfortable position so that you can sleep in multiple positions. It is also relatively cheap.

Trouble Sleeping

We like consistency. When we change things dramatically in our environment, it becomes very difficult for us to relax, especially when you add all the tubings and the masks when you sleep.

Here are some tips for you to relax when you’re starting with using CPAP machine:

Start using CPAP during the day and allow yourself to sit and relax for an hour or two and let your body adjust to the feeling of having a mask on your face and pressurized air.

Breathe deeper than you normally would to make your lungs feel comfortable with extra air when using CPAP.

Do relaxing activities for 30 minutes before you go to bed so that you’re in a very relaxed state when you put your CPAP on.

Go easy on yourself! Do not expect to fall asleep perfectly in the first few nights of using CPAP. The goal of using CPAP is to adjust yourself to the machine and eventually make yourself comfortable enough to use it nightly.

Press the button as much as you need to turn the pressure lower to a manageable level.

Skin Irritation

One of the side effects of using the CPAP machine is that you may get skin irritation from wearing the mask. In this case, pay attention because you may have a contact allergy.

Talk to your provider about getting a different type of mask if you’re getting rash and blisters.

Clean your mask daily so that dirt doesn’t build up and cause skin issues.

Trouble Switching Sleeping Position

Use a nasal pillow or nasal mask. It’s a lot easier for you to sleep on your side using a nasal pillow or nasal mask compared to using a full face mask. This is also true if you use the over-the-head tubing system.

Get a CPAP pillow, which can be specifically made for people who sleep on their side.

Dry Lips

Learn more about tips on dry lips and using the machine after alcohol consumption

If you’re using a nasal pillow or nasal mask but you are used to breathing with your mouth open during the night, air will rush out of your mouth and make your throat and lips dry. 

Discuss with your sleep technicians whether you should change into a full face mask.

Use mouth tape or chin strap to keep your mouth closed while sleeping.

Use specialized dry mouth solution or apply petroleum jelly on your lips before you sleep.

Nasal Congestion

Speak to your doctor to see if it’s caused by medical reasons like allergies.

Use nasal sprays or dilators. 


It’s no secret that using a CPAP in the first few weeks is quite uncomfortable. This is why CPAP has a very low compliance rate of 40 percent. But, we do know from clinical studies that if you can get past that 2-week mark of using it consistently, your chances of using it and being able to sleep efficiently while using it go up ten fold! Hopefully, with the tips we provided, you’re going to get used to it sooner and feel so comfortable that you’ll be able to wear it nightly.


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