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Nebulizer Troubleshooting

Troubleshooting Nebulizers

For adult and pediatric patients alike with certain medical conditions such as asthma, emphysema, and bronchitis, a nebulizer can be one of the essential pieces of medical equipment in day-to-day life. When these machines experience technical difficulties or do not operate properly, patients can experience dramatic drop-offs in quality of life, and sometimes even life-threatening complications. Because of this fact, it is essential that all patients and caregivers who deal with nebulizers be familiar with basic procedures for troubleshooting nebulizers.

Getting to Know Your Nebulizer

Issues are rarely due to the compressor itself. While these do sometimes break or malfunction, it can take years of use, or trauma such as dropping, to make this happen. In most cases, issues with nebulizers are a result of poor maintenance because the atomized medicine can clog tubing and mouthpieces.

Four Easy Ways to Maintain a Nebulizer

  1. After every use, thoroughly rinse the nebulizer cup, shake out any excess water and let it air dry. Once a day, the nebulizer cup and tubing should be washed with mild soap and warm water and also dried by air.
  2. Make sure to change the filter in the compressor of the machine every 3-6 months to ensure a fine mist is achieved with every use and the motor runs properly.
  3. Replace nebulizer parts by following the manufacturer’s replacement schedule. A generalized schedule can be found on the Aeroflow website.
  4. Keep your nebulizer free from dust that can clog the compressor. This can be done by wiping the machine down daily with a damp cloth or keeping it in a dust free environment like a drawer or cloth bag.

If mouthpieces and tubing are not properly and vigorously cleaned after each use, the medicine can crystallize and clog the machine. A nebulizer won’t mist properly if there is a clog. Additionally, filters should be changed out periodically since they will eventually clog by normal use, leading to the same kind of mist-preventing issues.

Nebulizers can sometimes have bacterial buildup from normal use, particularly if during bouts of bronchitis or other possible bacterial conditions. Because of this, masks and tubing should be frequently sterilized and changed out for more than just preventing clogs.

Sterilizing Your Nebulizer Parts and Equipment

Following the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions after each use will prevent any remaining medication in the cup from drying out, which can result in the device not nebulizing effectively. Once a week, your nebulizer will need to be more thoroughly sterilized.

After each treatment:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly.
  • Disassemble the nebulizer.
  • Rinse the mask or mouthpiece with warm water for at least half a minute.
  • Do not wash nebulizer tubing or compressor.
  • Shake off excess water and place parts on a clean towel for air-drying.
  • Reassemble the system and turn on the compressor for a few seconds for drying.

Once a week:

  • Consult your owner’s manual for specific instructions. You may be instructed to soak all nebulizer parts (except mask, tubing, and compressor) in one part distilled white vinegar/three parts hot water for one hour (do not reuse cleaning solution).
  • Rinse, shake off excess water, and allow to air-dry on a clean towel.
  • Reassemble the pieces and tubing and turn on the compressor briefly for drying.

Replacement and Resupply

Often, the ideal scenario in place of troubleshooting nebulizers is to prevent problems from ever arising by making sure that the nebulizer’s interchangeable and disposable parts are frequently replaced. The medicine cup, tubing, filter, and mask are all parts of the nebulizer which should not be used permanently.


Related: Nebulizer Replacement Schedule


Most insurances, such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Blue Cross and other private insurance, will provide to replace the plastic parts such as tubing and medicine cup, at least once every 6 months. Many insurances will pay for filters and masks monthly. It is essential to maximize the benefit of covered nebulizer replacement parts.

Working with an experienced durable medical equipment supplier like Aeroflow Healthcare can be a great benefit to preventing needing to troubleshoot nebulizers yourself. Our trained supply representatives will contact you at intervals when your insurance will cover new nebulizer supplies, helping you get the equipment you are entitled to.

Additionally, Aeroflow can also contact you when you are due for new nebulizer compressor, ensuring that you or your child has the latest and most convenient equipment available.

Finally, if you are having a nebulizer troubleshooting issue that you cannot resolve yourself, our trained phone support staff can help you talk through issues, complete with manufacturer owner’s manuals, in order to get back to using your therapy as intended as quickly as possible.

We are Here to Help

If you, your child, or someone you love is using a nebulizer for a chronic or acute health concern, ensure that they are maximizing the benefit of their insurance, as well as protected from any sudden nebulizer troubleshooting issues. Do not delay, contact Aeroflow Healthcare at 888-345-1780 today to partner with our trained sales and support staff to make sure that your quality of life while using a nebulizer is as high as possible. To learn more about Aeroflow’s nebulizer products and services, you can visit our website here.

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