Your First CPAP Machine: How To Set Up, Fit, And Clean Everything

Your First CPAP Machine: How To Set Up, Fit, And Clean Everything

Becoming a CPAP user can be scary. Even though you’ve had your sleep study and know Aeroflow Sleep will ship you the right supplies based on your doctor’s diagnosis, there’s the whole process of getting to know your CPAP machine: how to set it up, where the different parts go, and when to perform cleaning and maintenance. Don’t worry; this blog has all of the answers you need for your first machine.


How To Come Prepared For Your Setup Appointment

How To Set Up Your PAP Device

How To Fit Your CPAP Mask

How To Replace & Clean CPAP Parts

How To Order New CPAP Supplies From Aeroflow Sleep


Aeroflow Sleep is in-network with most primary insurance companies and is accreditted by Medicare and Medicaid. Complete our Qualify Through Insurance Form, and we will automatically check to see if your plan covers CPAP supplies; including a machine, mask, and accessories. ***Must have a sleep study to qualify.***

You will also receive the care and attention every sleep apnea patient deserves; one-on-one clinical support in-home or via telehealth, a dedicated Sleep Specialist you can contact during business hours, and a user-friendly online portal with tailored replacement schedule, important updates and notifications, and educational resources.

Let us take the headache out of healthcare. Join the Aeroflow Sleep family today! It only takes 5-7 minutes to get started.

How To Come Prepared For Your Setup Appointment

Every sleep apnea patient is different, so every PAP setup is different. What your CPAP does may be clear as mud to the next person, and that’s okay! Aeroflow Sleep has licensed clinicians on-staff whose entire job is setting up your first device. Appointments can be held in-person or via telehealth, but first, there are some key things you need to understand and information you should have ready in order to come prepared…

What Type Of PAP Machine Do You Have?

There are 3 types of PAP machines: CPAP, APAP, and BiPAP. CPAP stands for “continuous positive airway pressure” and is the most commonly used, which is why you’ll often see CPAP used interchangeably with any device. However, they are different, and the difference does matter.

For example, a BiPAP means “bilevel positive airway pressure” or two pressure settings. One reason you may be receiving a BiPAP machine is if you were diagnosed with a more severe form of sleep apnea. Meanwhile, an APAP offers “automatic positive airway pressure,” adjusting to your every breath. And, why you may be receiving an APAP instead could be because your throat muscles are more likely to collapse if your prescribed air pressure doesn’t meet your body’s needs.

Be sure to ask your doctor exactly what device, make, and model they ordered for you and why they prescribed it over another option. That way you’ll be able to follow our clinician’s advice without missing a beat.

Should You Use Your New CPAP Before Setup?

Yes! Now that you know what’s being delivered right to your doorstep, you can have the instant gratification of opening the box and trying it all out before your setup appointment. In fact, Aeroflow Sleep encourages this, because you’ll be more familiar with the various supplies we’ll have to go over and, more importantly, you’ll get a sense for what questions you may have after using it without guidance for a night or two; like whether you feel claustrophobic or wake up with a dry mouth, which are both CPAP side effects.

The most important thing is that you go ahead and use your machine, because your chance to meet compliance begins as soon as it arrives. Compliance is the 90-day period in which you must prove to your insurance company that they should cover your CPAP machine; they want to know they didn’t just pay for a device you aren’t going to use, so they track your nightly usage data and will either continue to pay down the cost of your setup or send you a bill.

Obviously, we don’t want your sleep apnea journey to fail and leave you with upwards of $2,000 in payments owed. That’s why Aeroflow Sleep will also send you timely email reminders, notifying you how close you really are to meeting compliance. Generally, insurance requires...

Compliance Standards:

  • 4 hours or more of CPAP use every night
  • 70% of nights
  • In at least one 30-day consecutive period
  • Within 90 total days

What Happens If You Don't Like Your CPAP Machine?

If you are struggling with using your CPAP machine, speak up! Our clinical experts can also troubleshoot issues you are experiencing and help you get used to using the machine. However, Aeroflow Sleep typically recommends first-time CPAP users stick with their prescribed settings up to two weeks before making any changes, because it can take time to get used to.

How To Set Up Your PAP Device

In order to use your CPAP, it’s important to try setting it up yourself ahead of the clinical appointment. Rest assured, they’re not easy to break!

Your CPAP machine isn’t the only durable medical equipment you’ll receive in your order. You’ll be prescribed a CPAP mask as well as standard or heated tubing that you use to connect to your device. Plus, you may notice some supplies and accessories; like the humidifier water chamber, air filter, power cord, and carrying case. All of these are important to your set up, and here’s where they go…

First, start by filling the humidifier water chamber with distilled water, being careful not to exceed the maximum amount of water indicated by a little line on the outside of the chamber, and then slide it into the side of your CPAP machine.

Next, take the larger end of your tubing and insert it into the matching port on your CPAP machine. It may be on the back or side of your device, depending on the make and model.

The opposite side of your tubing attaches to your CPAP mask, which may have a port at the front or top of the mask. Some masks come with a small plastic connector as well, so be sure that stays between the mask and tubing or they won’t fit together.

Finally, plug in your CPAP machine and press the power button. You should begin to feel air blowing from the machine through the tube and mask as soon as you reach the home screen. Minimal troubleshooting may be necessary; such as pairing a ResMed device with the myAir smartphone app, which you can ask your Aeroflow Sleep clinician to do during the setup appointment.

How To Fit Your CPAP Mask

The CPAP mask that comes with your machine is probably the second most important piece to your sleep apnea puzzle, and it will require some troubleshooting of its own; i.e. finding the right fit for your unique face shape.

Aeroflow Sleep supplies 3 types of CPAP masks: full-face, nasal, nasal pillows masks, and hybrids. A full-face CPAP mask covers both your nose and mouth while a nasal mask only covers your nose. Then, a nasal pillows mask doesn’t just cover your nose but has two prong-like silicone “pillows” that insert into the nostrils.
Your mask actually comes apart and often includes a mask cushion or pillows, the mask frame, and headgear. You may also have been provided with a chinstrap, if you’re prone to breathing through your mouth and opted out of a full-face CPAP mask. These pieces all need to fit properly in order to prevent any mask leaks.

If your headgear is made of a stretchable fabric, you probably have velcro tabs you can pull off and adjust as needed. Be sure you can fit a finger in between your head and the headgear straps. Watch as Michelle Worley, Registered Nurse and our Director of Clinical Operations, demonstrates in this video:

Overtighten, and you’ll wake up with nose sores, red marks, and other skin irritation. Any more, and we’ll need to get you the next size down.

The same can be said for headgear made of silicone or latex. This type of headgear usually connects to your mask frame and is not adjustable. The only way to fix this is to size up or down accordingly.

How Do You Find Your Mask Size?

Aeroflow Sleep has two ways of finding your CPAP mask size: sizing guide printouts or mask-fitting technology. The former has been around for many years, and all you have to do is locate the mask you received on our Resource Center, print its corresponding sizing guide at home or from your local printer, and place your nose in each of the color-coded spaces until the rounded edge feels right around your face.

We understand if this way of sizing feels a bit antiquated though. You may not even find your mask among the list, because even the manufacturers have caught on to how there’s a better way today. That’s why Aeroflow Sleep has innovated the process by using mask-fitting technology. Ask your dedicated Aeroflow Sleep Specialist for the website of this special service. You will answer a few questions, take a selfie, and watch the algorithm analyze the structure of your unique face shape, spitting out your perfect CPAP mask. It’s that easy!

What Happens If You Don't Like Your CPAP Mask?

Sure, the potential for error is always present, so if you still aren’t happy with your CPAP mask after trying one of the two solutions Aeroflow Sleep offers, we do have one more service available: our 30-day free mask swap. First-time CPAP users have 30 days to decide whether or not they’re completely satisfied with their CPAP mask, and if not, they’re guaranteed a new, free mask to try instead. However, just like with your machine, we do recommend sticking with it for at least one week before making any long-term changes.

How To Replace & Clean CPAP Parts

There is one catch to all of these exceptional services… You’re not reaching the CPAP’s full potential if you don’t clean it regularly. More importantly, you’re putting your health at risk. Dirty CPAP supplies can harbor bacteria and harmful pathogens and ultimately make you sick.

To avoid illness, wash your mask frame, tubing, and water chamber weekly; plus, your cushions daily. Use warm, soapy water and rinse thoroughly before air drying. We recommend washing equipment early in the morning so supplies can air dry during the day, and always remember to refill your water chamber with new distilled water before using it again. You can also buy cleaners out-of-pocket—like CPAP sanitizers and wipes—for on-the-go cleaning, but this is not a substitute for weekly cleaning.

Furthermore, two weeks into compliance is the first time you’ll be able to replace CPAP parts. This is recommended, because, like most products in the world, they deteriorate over time. Whether it be the elasticity of your headgear loosening or the machine’s motor slowing down, Aeroflow Sleep acknowledges that this is life-saving medical equipment we’re talking about; it can’t fail, so we have an entire department focusing solely on your replacement schedule. Thus, we prevent your sleep apnea from failing, too.

Most insurance guidelines state that they will cover the cost of replacement supplies based on the below schedule; this is the same schedule Aeroflow Sleep follows:

Every 2 Weeks - 1 Month

  • Nasal Cushions & Nasal Pillows should be replaced every 2 weeks
  • Disposable CPAP Filters should be trashed and replaced every 2 weeks
  • Full-Face Mask Cushions can wait to be replaced up to 1 month

Every 3 Months

  • CPAP Masks, regardless of type, should all be replaced every 3 months
  • CPAP Tubing should also be replaced every 3 months; including heated hoses

Every 6 Months

  • CPAP Headgear & Chinstraps should be replaced every 6 months
  • Humidifier Water Chambers should be replaced every 6 months too, but always replaced the distilled water in the chamber after every use; again, this applies to both standard and heated options
  • Non-Disposable Filters should also be replaced every 6 months

Every 5 Years

  • APAP, BiPAP and CPAP machines should all be replaced every 5 years

Aeroflow Sleep will notify you whenever you are due for a replacement, and just like your first order, the CPAP supplies that are due will be shipped right to your door.

How To order New Supplies From Aeroflow Sleep

When you receive that email, text, or phone call for replacement equipment, log in to our patient portal for online updates, tracking info, and more. You’ll be able to place an order for new supplies online, right from your Aeroflow Sleep account.

And if you got through this entire blog without even knowing where to get your first CPAP machine, let’s fix that now and make sure it’s by Aeroflow Sleep! We can offer you everything you’ve read so far and check your eligibility for insurance-coverage, up to 100%. Just take 5-7 minutes to fill out our qualifying form, and a representative will contact you with a quote. Then, in no time, you’ll be one step closer to sleeping well and living better.

About the Author

With nearly a decade of writing experience, Meagan Remmes leads the creative vision behind Aeroflow Sleep's blog content. She has worked with a wide range of clients in the past; including Mission Hospital, Ingles Markets, Omni Hotels & Resorts, and Advance Auto Parts. Today, her passion is to educate new and existing sleep apnea patients on the benefits of receiving PAP supplies through insurance. You may also find her hanging out with her dog, hiking with her husband, or reading a good book in blissful solitude.

Information provided in blogs should not be used as a substitute for medical care or consultation.