Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) 

Your doctor has prescribed Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy for you. CPAP is defined as a single level of pressure delivered to the airway. The level of pressure is the same when you take a breath in as well as when you breathe out.

This pressure prevents the upper airway from closing. CPAP is used to treat Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). This is a condition that causes the upper airway tissue to block air flow to the lungs, which can cause your oxygen levels to drop dangerously low. This happens primarily at night when you sleep but can occur while you nap. Use your CPAP when you sleep at night and anytime you plan to take a nap.

The CPAP machine delivers a prescribed pressure through the tubing to the mask or nasal pillows. CPAP machines and masks/pillows come in various sizes and types. Your doctor may prescribe a particular machine and mask at the time of the initial setup. We carry a wide variety of masks and pillows which our staff will show you and professionally fit.

It will take some time to get accustomed to your equipment and it may take a while before you begin to feel the benefits of your CPAP therapy. Be patient!! If you are having any problems adjusting to your equipment contact BJC Home Medical Equipment at 314-953-2000 for help.

Home Setup

  1. Place the CPAP machine on a level surface near your bed.
  2. Keep the machine at least 12 inches away from anything that may block the vents (drapes, bedspreads, etc.)
  3. Position the machine lower than the level of your bed so any accumulation of water will drain back toward the machine and not toward your mask.
  4. Plug the machine into a grounded outlet, if available. The use of extension cords is not recommended. If necessary use a heavy-duty extension cord.

Note: If oxygen is prescribed with your CPAP therapy, our therapists will instruct you on the proper placement of the oxygen adaptor and oxygen tubing. Always turn on the CPAP unit first, then turn on the oxygen.


  1. Fill the humidifier with water (distilled water is recommended) to the maximum fill line.
  2. Attach one end of the tubing to the humidifier.
  3. Attach the other end to the mask.
  4. Rinse/clean with mild soap and water daily.
  5. Do weekly cleaning and disinfecting.  Soak the water reservoir in one part white vinegar and three parts water for 30 minutes each week and rinse thoroughly.


  1. Plug the CPAP power cord into a grounded outlet, if available. The use of extension cords is not Recommended. If necessary, use a heavy-duty extension cord.
  2. Wash your face to remove any dirt, oils or creams.
  3. Position the mask on your face and fasten the headgear. The mask should fit snug enough to prevent leaks, but be careful not to over tighten the mask. This can cause soreness and skin break down.
  4. Turn the unit on. As you feel the pressure increase, relax and breathe normally through your nose.
  5. Always turn your CPAP unit off when it’s not in use.
  6. If you use oxygen, always turn off the oxygen first, then turn off the CPAP unit.

Note: It is important to keep your CPAP equipment and supplies clean. Please refer to the user’s manuals for recommended cleaning instructions.  Replacing your supplies on a regular basis can ensure that you receive the greatest benefit from your therapy. To replace your supplies, please contact us at 314-953 2000.

 Important Safety Reminders

  1. Use your CPAP equipment as directed by your physician.
  2. Do not try to adjust your pressure settings.
  3. Do not plug the CPAP unit into an outlet with multiple devices.
  4. Keep filters clean to prevent the unit from overheating. Check filter weekly for debris and clean/dust as needed.
  5. If oxygen is being used, follow the oxygen guidelines.
  6. When using the heated humidifier, allow the unit to cool before cleaning and/or refilling.
  7. If you have a medical emergency, contact you physician or dial 911 for immediate assistance.

Care and Maintenance of Mask/Nasal Pillow

  1. Using mild soap and warm water, gently clean mask/pillows daily. Do not clean with anti-bacterial soap.
  2. If your mask has an inner lining, this usually does not require cleaning. Just wipe with a damp cloth.

Suggested Replacement Schedule

It is very important to keep your equipment and supplies clean.  Please refer to the manufacturer’s suggested guidelines for cleaning instructions.


Replacement Allowed by Insurance

Water chamber for humidifier, replacement only

1 per 6 months

Disposable filters

2 per 1 month

Non-disposable filters

1 per 6 months


1 per 6 months

Nasal (mask/cannula)

1 per 3 months

Pillow/Cushions for use on nasal mask

2 per 1 month

Chin strap

1 per 6 months

Nasal pillow mask

1 per 3 months

Full face mask

1 per 3 months


1 per 1 month

Tubing heated or non heated

1 per 3 months

When new supplies or replacements are needed, please call BJC Home Medical Equipment at least a week in advance and we will have our supplies shipped directly to your home.  Your insurance provider may reimburse you for the cost of your supplies.  Co-pays and replacement frequency of items may vary based upon insurance carrier and coverage provided under your insurance plan.

Troubleshooting Guide

If you have problems with your equipment, please refer to the following:


Possible Cause

What to do

No pressure / flow

  • Power cord disconnected

  • No power to outlet

  • Power switch in the OFF position
  • Blown fuse / circuit breaker on residence’s box
  • Reconnect power cord from machine and outlet
  • Try another outlet. Check to see if it is controlled by a light switch
  • Turn power switch on
  • Replace fuse or check circuit in breaker

Air from machine is too hot or cold

  • Dirty filters
  • Blocked vents
  • Temperature level on CPAP humidifier it too high/low
  • Clean or replace filters
  • Remove obstructions
  • Adjust humidifier on CPAP

Air leak around mask/interface

  • Mask not fitting correctly


  • Re-adjust mask and headgear. Contact us if problem persist.