Every machine needs maintenance and an Oxygen Concentrator is no different although the maintenance required is minimal.
Before learning how to maintain your Oxygen machine properly one should know how to initialize/use it.
Instructions for using an Oxygen Concentrator
Using an oxygen concentrator is as simple as running a television. The following steps need to be followed:
- Switch ‘ON’ main power source where the power cord of the Oxygen Concentrator is connected
- Place the machine in a well ventilated location preferably 1-2 ft. away from the wall so that the intake and exhaust have clear access
- Connect the humidifier (Usually required for Continuous Oxygen flow more than 2-3 LPM)
- Ensure that the particle filter is in place
- Connect the Nasal Cannula/Mask and ensure that the tubing is not kinked
- Turn-on the machine by pressing the ‘Power’ button/switch on the machine
- Set the Oxygen flow as prescribed by the physician on the flow-meter
- Bubble out Oxygen by putting the outlet of Nasal Cannula into a glass of water, this would ensure the flow of Oxygen
- Breathe through Nasal Cannula/Mask
Maintaining your Oxygen Concentrator
There are few things that patient or patient’s caregiver need to keep in mind while using their Oxygen Machines. Some of these things require special attention while some are just basic maintenance practices.
Using a Voltage Stabilizer
In many countries, people face the problem of voltage fluctuation. This problem can be the killer of not just oxygen concentrator but any household electrical equipment.
After a power cut the power comes back with such high voltage that it can affect the compressor. This problem can be solved by using a good quality voltage stabilizer. Voltage stabilizer stabilizes the voltage fluctuation and hence improves the life of the stationary oxygen concentrator.
It is not mandatory to use a voltage stabilizer but it is recommended; after all, you will be spending a lot of money to buy an oxygen concentrator and there is no harm in spending a few more bucks to buy a voltage stabilizer.
Placement of the Oxygen Concentrator
Oxygen concentrator can be kept anywhere inside the house; but while operating, it should be kept one feet away from the walls, bed, sofa, etc.
There should be 1-2 ft. of vacant space around the air-inlet of your oxygen concentrator as the compressor inside the machine needs space to take in sufficient amount of room air which will be concentrated to pure Oxygen inside the machine. (Air-inlet can be on the back, front or sides of the machine – depends on the model).
If enough gap is not provided for the air intake, then there is a possibility that the compressor of the machine might heat up as it wont be able take in sufficient amount of ambient air and the machine will give an alarm.
The Dust Factor
The dust in the environment plays a very important role in early service requirement of the machine.
The airs impurities like dust particles which gets filtered out by the filters of the machine. These filters get choked after few months totally depending upon the dust level in the atmosphere inside the room.
When the filter gets choked then the oxygen’s purity drops. Most of the machines start giving alarm when this happens. The filters need to be replaced periodically in such cases.
Though it is impossible to eliminate dust from air but you should avoid using your Oxygen Machine in a dusty environment; also basic precautionary measures can be taken to reduce it like whenever house is being cleaned, machine can be switched off & covered because the amount of dust level increases drastically during house cleaning.
The machine, if used at this time can suck in all the dust causing the filter to get choked soon.
Resting the Machine
Oxygen concentrators are made in such a way that they can run for 24 hours. But at times, they face the problem of heating up and stopping abruptly.
Therefore, after continuous usage of 7-8 hours, the concentrator should be given a rest of 20-30 minutes.
After 20-30 minutes the patient can turn the concentrator on and use it for another 7-8 hours before giving it a rest of 20-30 minutes again.
When the machine is switched off, then the patient can use the standby cylinder. This will improve the life of the compressor of concentrator.
Mouse in the house
The stationary Oxygen concentrators face a huge challenge from the mouse running around in the house.
In most of the stationary oxygen concentrators there are vents under or behind the machine.
While the machine is being operated, the mouse is unable to get inside the machine.
But when the machine is stopped then the mouse can get inside and create nuisance like chewing the wires and urinating on circuit board (PCB) of the machine. Once water goes into the circuit board then the machine breaks down. PCBs unlike the filters are quite expensive.
In some machines there is a cabinet/external filter outside that can be taken out easily. This filter should be cleaned once in a week (or more frequently depending upon operating conditions) with soap water. Note that it should be dried completely before putting back in the machine.
The internal filters should be replaced by the authorized service engineer of your equipment provider only. These filters require replacement less often.
Humidifier Cleaning practices
- Clean drinking water should be used for humidification to avoid/delay any blockages in holes of the bottle in long term
- The water should not be less/more than the respective min/max water level marks on the bottle
- Water in the bottle should be replaced once in 2 days
- Bottle should be cleaned from inside once in 2 days
Basic precautionary measures and cleaning practices
- The machine should not be moved on rough terrains where the wheels of the machine might break. It is highly recommended to lift the machine in such cases and then move.
- The Oxygen tube should not have any kinks or leakage from the oxygen outlet where it is attached to the nasal prongs.
- Water should not be spilled over the machine
- Machine should not be kept near fire or smoke
- The outside cabinet of the machine should be cleaned with a mild household cleaner applied using a sponge/damped cloth and then wipe all the surfaces dry. Do not allow any liquid to get inside the device
- Use a good quality voltage stabilizer
- Keep the concentrator 1-2 ft. away from all walls
- Avoid using machine in dusty environment
- Get regular performance checks done
- Do not run the machine continuously for long durations. Give it some rest.
- Use clean water in humidifier and replace it every 2 days.
All the above stated measures will improve the life of the oxygen concentrator and reduce your expenditure on repair/service of machine.
However, a concentrator can still break down anytime as after all it is a machine. Therefore, it is highly recommended to keep a standby cylinder with you always because a service engineer would also take some time to reach your home to repair the concentrator. One should ideally keep a backup cylinder that would last for 24 hours.