Man suggesting removing a puzzle piece shape from a CPAP to a woman who looks shocked at the idea.

CPAP Water Reservoirs: What I Wish I Had Known

Last updated: November 2022

For months, I have been going without my CPAP machine because of a gaseous odor it was giving off. At last, my CPAP supplies provider finally had a loaner machine. They set it up for me, and I went in to get it.

There are 2 employees in this office, and I've only ever talked to 1 of them. But on the trip to pick up the loaner CPAP, this changed!

Picking up my loaner CPAP

I got there expecting to see the usual employee that I talk to, but instead, I met a very upbeat man. He was assisting another customer, but I was immediately acknowledged and he said he would be right with me. I sat down and waited about 3 minutes for my turn. I told him I was there to pick up a loaner CPAP machine. He said, "You must be Sally!! Come on back, and I'll show you how it works."

While he was taking it out of its case, he asked me about my other CPAP machine that was giving off that bad smell. Thinking this was just general chit-chat, I told him what had happened and how it all started.

Finally, the loaner machine was all set up so we could go over it step by step. Getting the lowdown on the new machine wasn't that difficult.

Questions about my old CPAP machine

Out of the blue, he asked me if, by chance, the reservoir on my old machine had ever run dry. My answer was: yes, just a few times over the years. The last time was just a couple of nights before the smell started.

Again, just out of the blue, he asked me if I'd ever taken the back off my machine, removed the water reservoir, and used it without any moisture.

I learned something new

This was when I wanted just to smack myself upside the head. I could tell by the look on his face that my face was pretty dumbfounded!! I had to respond with, "Well, no..."

He said, "You have the DreamStation, correct? You know you can take the back off to run it that way also?"

He told me that continuing with running that reservoir dry will sometimes give off a burnt or gaseous odor and that the smell can linger for a while.

An expert in troubleshooting CPAP problems

From what I've been told by the other employee I usually work with, this man is a known expert when it comes to CPAP and BiPAP machines, especially in troubleshooting problems!!

After almost a year of not being able to use my machine, I'm now just finding this out!!

Trying my CPAP without the water reservoir

When I got home, I had to check this out for myself. I got out my CPAP machine, took the water reservoir off, plugged in my headgear, and turned it on. Voila! It worked with no smell at all!

Now, me being me, I had to try it with the water reserve tank on – same thing, it worked just fine!!

I did try using the machine 2 months after the first smell started coming out, and it still smelled. But I didn't know I could take it apart and use it that way. I would have been doing that this whole time if I had known, !

Have you ever removed your water reservoir to troubleshoot an issue? What happened? Did it help? Share with us in the comments below!

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