How to Check the Oxygen Purity of Your Oxygen Concentrator

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.

Final Thoughts

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

About Ryan Anthony: Ryan Anthony, BS, RRT is a registered respiratory therapist and content writer and medical blogger currently located in Los Angeles, California. As a Respiratory Therapist, he performs a wide range of hospital duties including adult and neonatal intensive care, nitric oxide therapy, high-frequency oscillatory ventilation, conventional mechanical ventilation, noninvasive ventilation, BiPAP, CPAP, intubation assistance, bronchoscopy assistance, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, chest physiotherapy, and nebulizer therapy.

15 thoughts on “How to Check the Oxygen Purity of Your Oxygen Concentrator”

  • L.W Oliver

    need a divice to check oxygen purity

    Reply
    • Danielle Jason
      Danielle Jason June 19, 2017 at 1:07 am

      Thank you for your comment Oliver. Unfortunately, we do not sell oxygen purity assessment devices.

      Reply
  • MEET KAVA

    how to check oxygen purity meter, in the mfg of idustrial oxygen.
    please give reply fast as soon as possible.

    Reply
    • Danielle Jason

      Thank you for your comment. Unfortunately, we do not work with industrial oxygen in the manufacturing industry. We solely work with medical grade oxygen used in oxygen concentrators.

      Reply
  • Firas

    I change the zeolite and its new but the purity still around 44% i cheeked all points and filter and I'm sure about the new zeolite
    could you help to know what is the problem ?
    Thanks in advance

    Reply
  • Ann

    What do you do and how would you know if your oxygen concentrator is delivering the amount of oxygen it is set for.? We had an incident yesterday with two concentrators that were not working correctly. It would appear strong and Bubble at the humidifier on five plus liters. However very little air was coming through to the nasal cannula and patience oxygen saturations were dropping. Changed out the tubing twice to a shorter tubing to no avail. Hospice nurse said it was just saying xiety until she came and realized it was true and had the machine switched out. Meanwhile put him on a tank. She had no idea how to check to see if a concentrator was working correctly. I want to know how you can tell if it's working correctly or how to troubleshoot it. Do you know?

    Reply
    • Danielle Jason

      Thank you for your comment, Ann. Are you familiar with a Pulse Oximeter? A pulse oximeter is a small and lightweight device that attaches to a fingertip to painlessly measure the level of oxygen in your body. The oximeter is a great way to asses current levels, health, and be able to tell if that patient is receiving the saturation they require. Feel free to read more here: https://www.oxygenconcentratorstore.com/blog/what-is-a-pulse-oximeter/. If you purchased your machines through us, and are under warranty, feel free to reach out to our Service Department at 877-303-9289 if you have concerns regarding the functioning of your machines.

      Reply
    • Ron

      Ann , make sure the humidifier bottle cap is screwed on tight and Not cross threaded , this will cause bubbles to appear in the bottle but allow oxygen to escape from the cap at the same time . this has happened to me before .

      Reply
      • Chet

        It is almost always the humidifier make sure everything is tight no crossthread no cracks eliminate all tubing humidifier and don't turn machine above 5 liters, hook cannula directly to concentrator if needed .if you need a true 5 liters consider a concentrator that goes to 10 liters and set it a little above 5 measure with a liter flow tester

        Reply
  • Joe mauceri

    Im a patient and sometimes don't trust my rented concentrator, can I obtain a device to measure the purity and the flow?

    Reply
    • Ed Rodgers

      Hi Joe,
      I am unaware of any device that would do this. But if your machine is maintained and is used properly, the machine should provide the oxygen levels it is designed to do. If you believe it is not working or delivering the needed oxygen. Give the manufacturer a call.

      Reply
  • Carol

    My husband was diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis after a virus and pneumonia last year..we came home for the first time in his life (67years old) on #7 LPM...I have learned
    When the concentrator has the water bottle on it is good to take tubing off quickly to add the water and leave the top of bottle connected so as to lessen the frustration of mis threading...also make sure bubbles are strong and a good amount of air before reconnecting tubing.....(if not just pull tubing off and reconnect ).…sometimes I have to take humidifier bottle off and leave off for a bit,however his nasal passages get to dry without humidifier....the caregiver is so worried the loved one is struggling it causes both to be anxious....lots of prayer try to stay calm and not get frustrated...

    Reply
    • Corey Dyben

      Dear Carol,

      Our thoughts are with you and your husband. Please reach out to us if you need anything.

      Sincerely,

      The AMSR Team

      Reply

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