FAQ: CPAP Humidifiers

What are the overall benefits of humidification?
The airflow generated by CPAP therapy is often greater than what your body is accustomed to humidifying on its own. However, with proper humidification, you can reduce common symptoms, such as nasal congestion, upper airway tenderness and dry throat. The humidifier with heated tubing improves your comfort by delivering heated humidification that reduces these common symptoms. Research also shows that nasal resistance can promote mouth breathing, which in turn leads to additional dryness. Heated humidification can prevent the large increase in nasal resistance that results in mouth breathing and leaks.

Should I turn on my humidifier before I go to bed to make sure the water is warm first?
If you find the air dry and irritating, then you may want to turn your humidifier on 20 minutes prior to going to bed. I usually use my humidifier only in the winter months when the heat is on in our house and, therefore, the air is dryer. Should I be using it all year round? If you are finding that you have nasal symptoms at other times of the year, then you should probably use your humidifier. The added humidification will probably increase the comfort of the air as it is more fully moisturized.

How much water should my humidifier used during a night?
The amount of water needed varies from one humidifier to the next, from one patient to the next, and with the temperature and humidity of the bedroom. How often should I change the water in the tub? I never seem to use it all in one night’s time. The water should be changed for each use - even if don't use it all in one night.

The water level in my humidifier does not seem to drop very far even though I used it for a full night. Is this normal?
Yes. The water level left after use doesn’t give the best indication of unit function. As the humidifier provides constant moisture output, it only uses the amount of water needed to provide the required level of moisture. If set at the same Climate Control temperature throughout the year, the humidifier will use significantly less water during summer than it will during the winter.

Is humidification helpful for upper respiratory resistance syndrome (UARS)?
Humidification doesn't help with OSA or UARS, it does help with side effects caused by CPAP. If you are already on CPAP treatment and experiencing nasal dryness/symptoms, then humidification should help decrease the symptoms. The nasal symptoms are due to the increased flow of air through the nasal passages. Humidification adds moisture to the air breathed and helps the nasal passages cope with the increased flow of air.

If I run out of distilled water, is it OK to use tap water once in a while?
Using distilled water will maximize the life of the water tub and reduce mineral deposits. However, it is ok to occasionally use tap water to clean your humidifier. Do not use: bleach, alcohol, chlorine or ammonia-based solutions; moisturizing, antibacterial or glycerin based soaps; and water softening and unapproved decaling agents.

How do I know what temperature setting to use with my humidifier?
Humidifiers have added intelligence to help deliver constant humidity to minimize rainout during standard humidification. The humidification delivery is controlled by three inputs (ambient humidity, humidifier settings and device flow) and adjusts the output to maintain consistent water delivery. In general, you should start at a humidity level setting of 3 and adjust up or down by 0.5 to address any drying or rainout issues.

My humidifier sometimes runs out during the night and most other nights in ¾ empty by the morning, what’s going on here?
The humidifier water delivery output depends on ambient room conditions (temperature and humidity levels), the humidifier settings and device flow. If the room conditions change from night to night (eg, one night the heater is left on in the house, and the next night it is turned off), this can account for differences in the water usage.

It may be that you are mouth breathing or have mouth leak. If you mouth breathe, you let lots of air escape from your mouth. All the extra air that escapes uses up your water more quickly.

If mouth leak is under control or you are using a full face mask, trying one or more of the options below may help:

  • ClimateLine tubing
  • Tubing wrap
  • Lowering your humidity level setting
  • Adding a humidifier to the room

I can’t use my humidifier during some nights because my hose fills up with water condensation. What can I do about this and why does this happen?
This condensation is called "rainout."

If your room is cold, the warmed, humidified air hits the colder room temperature and cools. When air cools, the amount of humidity (water vapor) that it can hold is reduced, which causes the humidity to "rain out."

The amount of water air can carry varies with temperature: warmer air can carry more water while cold air can carry less. As warm air becomes cooler (eg, overnight), it has less capacity to carry water, so water condenses and forms droplets.

There are several ways to deal with this situation.

  • Use the S9 Climate control system.
  • Try turning your humidity level down.
  • Raise the temperature of your bedroom at night to lessen the difference between the room temperature and the humidifier—make sure that your bedroom window is closed.
  • Run the air tubing beneath your blankets to keep it warm. Alternatively, you can cover the tube with a tubing wrap or a tube sock. The goal is to keep the tube and its air warm.

How often do I need to clean the water tub on my humidifier?
It is recommended that you wash your water tub in warm water, using a mild detergent.
Rinse thoroughly with clean water and allow them to dry away from direct sunlight.

  • Inspect the water tub for wear and deterioration.
  • Replace the water tub if any component has cracked, become cloudy or pitted.
  • Clean white powder or deposits in the water tub by using a solution of one part household vinegar to ten parts water.