Oxygen concentrators are important medical devices, but like all technology, they are prone to decline and will fail over time. In regards to oxygen concentrators, the purity of the oxygen coming from your concentrator is extremely important and should be functioning within a particular range.
When you set 2 liters per minute (LPM) on your device, you expect to get 2 LPM of at least >95% purified oxygen. However, when concentrators malfunction, you might think you are getting 2 LPM, but in reality, the concentration could be 85% or even lower. This poses a serious medical concern because, in this scenario, you will not be able to rely on your concentrator to deliver the oxygen concentration that you need.
In this article, we will discuss how to detect if your device needs a purity assessment and discuss some ways to accomplish it.
How Do You Know if Your Oxygen Concentrator Needs to Be Assessed For Purity?
While the only way to honestly know if your concentrator is not delivering the proper purity is by medical evaluation, there is one clue you should be aware of that could signal the need for an assessment. If you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or some other pulmonary disease requiring oxygen, and you are not currently sick or experiencing an exacerbation, and you notice that you are feeling more fatigued or winded with activities that used to be easy—it might be time for an oxygen purity test.
That said, by the time this occurs, you might be facing an emergent need for a replacement, so it is not an ideal way to discover your oxygen concentrator needs a purity assessment.
Regular Maintenance for Oxygen Concentrators is the Way to Maintain Oxygen Purity
Like most home appliances, it is better to regularly maintain your devices to ensure proper function and to catch problems before they become emergencies. Oxygen concentrators are no different.
Regular maintenance involves 3 overall strategies:
Call Your Oxygen Concentrator Provider to Ask for an Oxygen Purity Assessment
Your oxygen concentrator supplier should be able to manually test your concentrator to ensure proper function at reasonable intervals. Ask your provider if they can schedule an appointment to assess your concentrator regularly and when you suspect a problem.
When they come out to test your device, they will use an oxygen analyzer to check the output flow from your device to assess whether the output is accurate against a control measure. These devices are highly reliable and will detect deviations in oxygen purity down to tenths of a percent.
Clean the Gross Filter Particle
One reason why your oxygen concentrator might be filtering oxygen at a lower purity level is that the filters need to be cleaned. Check your owner’s manual to see if your oxygen unit has a gross particle filter.
The gross particle filter should be cleaned regularly and replaced periodically. When the concentrator is on, ambient air has to first pass through the gross particle filter to clean the air of dust and debris. If this filter is not cleaned regularly, the build-up of dirt and debris can decrease the amount of purified oxygen that the concentrator can ultimately make. To clean the gross particle filter, follow the directions in your owner’s manual regarding how to remove, clean, and replace the gross particle filter.
Send Your Device to the Manufacturer for Repairs
Sometimes, the inner filter and components might also need maintenance. That is when you should send your oxygen concentrator back to the manufacturer or retailer for maintenance. You will not be able to clean the inner filters or components yourself without either potentially damaging the device or voiding the warranty, so it is best not take any chances and have professionals handle the repairs, especially since it is a medical device.
There is a 4th Option to Check for Oxygen Purity
While you can purchase your own oxygen analyzer and test your device yourself, there are 2 things to be aware of: price and calibration.
Oxygen purity analyzers are expensive, with the more affordable analyzers starting at a few hundred dollars. They are available all over the internet, but they can be pricey. If cost is no concern, having a home oxygen analyzer is a great way to track any deviations in the purity of your concentrator over time.
The other thing to be aware of is calibration. Oxygen analyzers are devices themselves, and like all devices, they drift and fail over time. The nice thing about oxygen analyzers is that they come with a self-calibration function, so you can do your own quality control test at home and ensure that you can get accurate purity readings.
Oxygen purity is an essential aspect of owning an oxygen concentrator or tank, yet it is rarely mentioned to patients. Generally speaking, most oxygen concentrators and tanks are regulated and tested to meet specific standards of purity, but now and then, defective units will make it out to the shipping truck. With this knowledge, you now have the tools to check the oxygen purity of your own oxygen therapy device or know how to request an assessment.
Updated: July 31, 2019
Published: July 7, 2014