Just like any other piece of electrical equipment, an oxygen concentrator can stop working due to technical issues or after it's gotten over a certain age. You might also have instances where it can malfunction due to an outside influence, with no problems in the concentrator itself.
If an oxygen concentrator is not providing oxygen, it could be due to several different reasons. The system in an oxygen concentrator is made up of a few intricate parts that all work together to purify and deliver medical-grade oxygen, so you can breathe it in.
However, before you call a maintenance technician, you can do some troubleshooting on your own to see if you can fix the problem yourself. Sometimes, the cause of a big problem can be a small and easy fix.
First things first, let’s start with understanding and keeping the below-mentioned safety tips in mind before we troubleshoot.
- Switch to a backup source of oxygen while troubleshooting the oxygen concentrator. The availability of a secondary source of oxygen is highly recommended by oxygen concentrator manufacturers for situations like these and power outages.
- Do not disassemble the unit yourself. It could cause safety risks and invalidate the product warranty.
- Keep the device away from sources of heat, smoke, and pollution.
- Keep the device away from water or any liquid so that it’s not spilled over accidentally.
- If you are in a car, unplug the DC power supply when the automobile is turned off. Not doing this will deplete your car’s battery.
- Always use genuine manufacturer accessories and service parts. A counterfeit power supply may damage the circuit board, a carry bag not provided by the manufacturer may hinder the ventilation of concentrator and sieve beds bought from an unreliable source may adversely affect the oxygen purity levels.
Here are some do-it-yourself solutions to troubleshoot the oxygen concentrator issue:
If the oxygen concentrator is not turning on:
- Turn the device on by pressing the power button twice. Some oxygen concentrators turn on by pressing the on/off button two times or holding down the button for a few seconds.
- Make sure all the cords are connected properly. Moving around or accidentally stepping on the wire may detach it and block the power supply. Check whether the power cord is plugged all the way into the wall outlet and power adapter, and check that the power adapter is connected to the oxygen concentrator.
- Check for any wire damage. Regular wear-and-tear may damage the power cord or compromise the insulation. If there is any damage, replace the cable with a new one.
- The power supply adapter should be well-ventilated. An overheated adapter will shut down the concentrator.
- Do not use an extension cord to power your unit as it may not provide ample power to operate the device.
- When using a portable oxygen concentrator, see that the battery is properly installed.
- If the battery is correctly latched and the device is still not turning on then disconnect the power supply, pull the battery out, connect back the power supply without the battery, and hold the power button to turn it on. Note: some devices won’t turn on without battery installed, even when the unit is connected to the power supply.
- When traveling internationally, make sure that the input voltage of the power adapter is compatible with the power source.
- Check whether the wall outlet is working and there is no power outage (a breaker may be tripped). If it’s not working, try another wall outlet.v
If the oxygen concentrator isn't working, even though it is turned on and the power light or control screen is lit up:
- Make sure the nasal cannula is connected to the nozzle on the oxygen concentrator.
- If using a humidifier bottle, make sure that the cannula tubing is connected properly.
- Position the nasal cannula correctly on your face, or else the pulse dose will not work.
- Ensure that the tubing is not twisted or bent.
- Check whether the flow-meter knob is closed.
- The device should be in a well-ventilated space.
- When using a carrying bag, make sure that the unit is placed correctly and vents are not blocked.
Oxygen Concentrator Errors and Alerts
After you've checked these possible causes and it's still not delivering oxygen, it could be due to an internal part failure. You can check the alert displayed on the control screen. Let’s see how we can troubleshoot some common oxygen concentrator errors and alerts.
- Low oxygen alert - Check to see whether the airflow is being blocked.
- Oxygen purity is lower than 80% - Make sure the intake vent isn't clogged or blocked. Turn the unit off and clean it, if necessary. The intake filter needs to be replaced or cleaned.
- No breath detection – Check that the cannula is properly positioned your face and you are breathing through your nose. Check for any twists and obstructions with tubing. If the breath is not detected for approximately 30 minutes device shuts down to conserve power.
- Low or empty battery – Attach the external power supply to recharge the battery or exchange the battery.
- Battery temperature – If the battery exceeds the temperature limit, it won’t work. If you are in a hot place, it makes the battery warm quickly. Move to a cooler location.
- System Temperature – Oxygen Concentrator will not produce oxygen when the temperature crosses the tolerance range. If the device is hot, move to a cooler area. Check that the air inlet and outlet vent are clean and clear. If the vents are blocked, then the unit works harder to maintain the airflow thus making it warmer. On the other hand, if you are in a very cold place, move to a warmer place. Wait for at least two minutes for the device to warm up before turning it on.
- Other system errors – Check the user manual provided with the unit to troubleshoot or contact the equipment provider.
Performing a Hard Restart
Just like, sometimes, our smartphones require a hard restart to turn on, the oxygen concentrators may require it too. Though the situation is rare, here are the steps to perform a hard restart on a portable oxygen concentrator:
- The machine must be completely shut down
- Disconnect the power adapter
- Remove the batteries
- Let the unit stand for 20 minutes without power
- Plug the AC power into the machine – do not attach the batteries yet
- Turn the unit on and use it for 10 minutes on AC power
- Then, disconnect the power supply to put the batteries back inv
Hard Restart Video
Calling Customer Care
- You can generally find the customer care number of your equipment provider on a sticker placed on the unit
- If you are not sure where you got the unit from, then call the manufacturer customer care with the following information at your disposal:
- Make and Model of the oxygen concentrator
- Serial number
- The problem you are facing
- Whether you are currently traveling
- Since when you are facing the problem
Maintenance of this medical device is critical for its flawless performance.
- You can replace or clean the intake filter yourself. It should be replaced every 2 years and cleaned every 2 weeks. It can be cleaned with a mild detergent and water, and left to dry completely before being used again. If the filter looks worn out, it can be replaced sooner than the 2-year mark.
- Another cause, that you might not be able to fix on your own, would be a weakened sieve bed. This is the component that filters the nitrogen out of the air to provide purified oxygen. The compressor might also be worn out and in need of a replacement.
- It's important to keep up on maintenance, and we can help you with questions about maintenance and replacements when necessary.
- Oxygen Concentrator Repairs and Maintenance 101
- Manuals for Portable and Home Oxygen Concentrators
- Portable Oxygen Concentrator Maintenance
- Home Oxygen Concentrator Maintenance
Updated: March 6, 2020
Published: October 26, 2015