Oxygen concentrators are reliable and effective machines for treating a myriad of respiratory conditions, including COPD. Sometimes oxygen concentrators can malfunction. We have some easy fixes for oxygen patients and their caregivers to try in the event of device issues.
1. Low or empty battery
Your oxygen concentrator relies on electrical currents to power it. With age, these connections can decrease in quality, which will cause technical malfunctions. Depending on the severity of these issues, you may have to see a medical technician to fix it. Otherwise, there are basic troubleshooting procedures you can do instead. When your oxygen concentrator does not power on, follow these steps.
- First, press and hold the power button. You may have to press it twice, depending on your machine. Inspect all cords, power strips, and electrical outlets to make sure no faulty circuits exist. A detached wire could block the power supply. You should also inspect the cord for its connection to the power adapter on the machine. Every cord and power outlet should supply electricity to the machine. Don’t forget to check the wires. Wear and tear can fray the fibers and hinder electrical flow. You may need to replace these cables.
- Next, make sure the power adaptor is well ventilated. Overheating can cause preemptive failures as well. Portable oxygen concentrators must use a properly installed battery. Replace if using a drained battery.
- Ultimately, your power output is an essential component of your device. Oxygen concentrators need a stable wall outlet, compatible power source, and appropriate voltage to power it. Any of these conditions could affect your oxygen concentrator’s performance if broken.
2. Warning lights visible & audible alarm
If the yellow indicator light is on constant, the red light is flashing and an intermittent alarm is chirping:
- Check for kinks or knots in the tubing.
- Oxygen flow meter may be too low or too high, adjust meter knob back to prescribed setting.
- Be sure unit is 6-8 inches away from walls or furniture, allowing air to be drawn in to the concentrator and so overheating doesn’t occur.
3. Humidifier bottle malfunction
Some patients require the use of a humidification bottle, as oxygen therapy can be drying to sinus passages. Sometimes if tap water is used instead of the recommended distilled water, you’ll find that the humidifier bubbler tube will get clogged with minerals found in tap water. This can cause the humidifier to malfunction.
- Clean the humidifier bottle or replace.
- Fill humidifier bottle with distilled water only.
4. Low oxygen flow problem with oxygen concentrators
Naturally we expect that the oxygen concentrator should deliver oxygen at the flow rates settings at all times. However, if at times the user is feeling that he/she is not getting enough oxygen as usual or as expected, the following needs to be checked:
Oxygen Concentrator Alarms & light indicators
- If the green LED is on and alarm is not beeping – Good news! The machine is working properly. So just check if the nasal cannula or tubing is properly placed. Cannula or tubing is not coming loose or there is no kink anywhere. There should not be any leak or block to the oxygen flow from the machine to the user.
- If however the Yellow LED is on and you can hear the beep, it means the machine is not working normally. This is an indication of low oxygen and hence the alarm. It is time to call the service engineer before the device performance worsens.
5. Low oxygen purity problem with oxygen concentrators
Most oxygen concentrators promise oxygen concentration (or Purity as some call it) between 90-96% when the machine is working normally. There are some models where the oxygen concentration falls with increase in Flow rate by design. Please check the manufacturer’s specifications.
The Yellow LED will come on, as mentioned before, if the oxygen concentration is beginning to fall below normal. If not addressed the performance may start deteriorating. When the Red LED is on and alarm is beeping continuously, the oxygen purity is way below normal already. You must switch to alternate supply of oxygen immediately and call the service engineer.
If the intake vent is clogged or blocked, it can affect the oxygen purity. Hence periodic cleaning of the filters is essential.
6. Oxygen Concentrator is heating up
Often one of the problems customers have with oxygen concentrators is that it is heating up just after 5-6 hours of use. The body of the machine may be hot to touch. While all oxygen concentrators come with a heat safety or cut-off device, if you feel the machine is too hot, it is advisable to switch it off and give it a rest for 20-30 minutes. On the whole there is nothing to worry about if an oxygen concentrator heats up.
Like all electronic devices, oxygen concentrators need to be kept at a reasonable temperature in order to prevent overheating or becoming too cold for use. All machines come with operating instructions regarding environmental temperature. E.g. Philips Everflo user manual indicates that the operating temperature should be within 13-320°C. Please ensure that the atmospheric temperature of the room is maintained as per manufacturer instructions. There should also be adequate ventilation to let out heat produced by the compressor.
The concentrator may stop working temporarily if internal temperature range is exceeded. In such a case, moving it out of extremely hot or cold areas will help.
7. Upon switching the machine on, Audible Alarm is beeping continuously but none of the LEDs are on
This means the machine is not receiving power. Check whether the power cord plug is connected to the machine at all, or is it properly inserted in the electrical socket outlet or check if the outlet is delivering power.
8. If the machine is not working, alarm is beeping continuously and all 3 LEDs are on
The machine is malfunctioning. There may be an internal part failure. You need to call the service engineer.
9. A yellow or red LED is blinking and alarm is intermittent.
Such malfunctioning could happen because of water/ moisture seepage inside or dust, upsetting the working of internal sensors.
So as to prevent any further oxygen concentrator performance issues. When all else fails or if you are unsure how to proceed, call customer care. You should see a phone number on the device or the manual where you can reach that medical manufacturer’s customer service line. They should know how to diagnose your machine’s problem and its potential issues. If you’re uncertain about the machine, refer to the make and model of your concentrator. Explain the problem you are facing and when it started. You might need to relay the serial number for customer care to find your device in their database, but you can find this on the side or the bottom of the equipment.
There are also some preventative measures you can take. Preventative maintenance is the act of upkeeping your device so that it works flawlessly. Consider these methods. Clean the intake filter every two weeks and replace it every two years. You can clean it with soap and water but make sure it’s dried thoroughly before reuse. Of course, you can always replace the filter sooner than two years if it’s in disrepair. Your sieve bed and valve may also need a replacement. This part purifies the nitrogen out of the oxygen, making it safe for ingestion. Inspect the compressor, valve and sieve if worn out and replace them.