What To Do if Nebulizer Isn’t Working? Basic Troubleshooting Steps

A nebulizer is an important piece of medical equipment in the day-to-day life of people with asthma, COPD, and other respiratory conditions.

It delivers the medicine to the lungs directly, giving the patient instant relief from symptoms like breathing difficulties, coughing, and wheezing.

Just like any machine, there will come the point when your nebulizer may not operate properly.

As you can imagine, this can be a bad thing, especially if you depend so much on it to feel better.

To know what to do if nebulizer isn’t working, we’ll list the most common reasons and how to deal with them.

We’ll also talk about ProNebu’s Portable Nebulizer, helping ensure you breathe freely anytime, anywhere.

Getting To Know Your Nebulizer

Before you can learn how to troubleshoot a nebulizer, it would be best to get to know it first.

A nebulizer has three components: the mouthpiece, a nebulizer cup, and the air compressor.

Powered by electricity, the device converts the liquid medicine into fine droplets, making it easier to breathe into the lungs through the mask or the mouthpiece.

A mouthpiece is preferable to a mask because it ensures more medication gets to the lungs.

However, when the patient can’t hold the mouthpiece, a mask can be attached to the neb cup.

ProNebu Portable Nebulizer

pronebu for blog

If you’re always on the go, you may need a reliable handheld nebulizer like this one ProNebu. It’s slim, small, and lightweight, perfect for kids and adults.

It runs either via the USB cable or batteries, so you can use it anywhere in your house or even when outside.

The best part is that you don’t have to deal with a bunch of tubing and complicated parts, so maintaining it is super easy.

What To Do if Nebulizer Isn’t Working?

Troubleshooting a nebulizer generally involves a systematic approach.

To start, you will want to check each component, from the plug to the machine and the accessories.

Let’s discuss some of the most common issues with a nebulizer.

Issue: Nebulizer Not Misting

Nothing can be more disappointing than a nebulizer not misting. Luckily, there are several steps you can take to address this issue.

Step 1: Make sure it is properly plugged into an outlet. 

If you’re using a portable handheld nebulizer, check if the USB is properly connected or if the batteries are fully charged.

Step 2: Rule out the obvious problems first.

Check if the tubing is properly connected. Often, a loose connection prevents a nebulizer from working.

Step 3: Check for any blockages, such as a hole in the neb cup.

If there’s a hole, you will need to replace the liquid reservoir.

Aside from a hole in the medicine cup, it could be that the remnant of medicine has crystallized. If that’s the case, you have to clean the cup. 

Issue: Air Compressor Not Working

The air compressor is the heart of a nebulizer.

It is responsible for creating a force of jet air to the nebulizer cup, turning the liquid into aerosols.

If your air compressor isn’t working, follow these troubleshooting steps:

Step 1: Check if the compressor makes noise when turned on or if there is no light indicating power.

If it doesn’t, it could be that it has no power supply. You can use a multimeter to see if there’s enough power reaching the wires.

If there is no power reaching the pump, it could be a problem with the switch, fuse, or wiring.

Step 2: If the air output isn’t sufficient, tighten the hose connections and repair leaks. Then, replace the filter if necessary.

Step 3: You should also check the diaphragm or valve plate and replace it if necessary.

Step 4: If the compressor labors when the device is not in use, remove occlusions in the tubing to vent excess air. You can use an air pressure regulator to release excess air.

If your device is still not working after troubleshooting and cleaning, you may be better off purchasing a new one.

Since many nebulizers are available at an affordable price point, replacing your device may be more cost-effective than getting a repair.

Check with your insurance provider if they cover the replacement.

learn what to do if nebulizer isn't working

Preventive Care and Maintenance of Nebulizer

You can extend the lifespan of your nebulizer machine by taking good care of it. Follow these easy tips to care for and maintain your nebulizer:

1. Clean your nebulizer after each use.

Use warm water and mild soap to clean each part.

After washing, shake off any excess water and let the parts air dry. You can place them on a paper towel for a few hours.

Make sure each part is completely dry before storing.

2. Give your machine a thorough cleaning and sterilization once a week.

As directed by the manufacturer, you may need to disassemble and clean the individual parts.

You can sterilize most nebulizer cups and mouthpieces by soaking them in boiling water for five minutes or putting them in the dishwasher or a baby bottle sterilizer.

If you’re using a disposable neb cup and mouthpiece, clean them by soaking them in a vinegar-water solution.

3. Change the air filter regularly.

Air compressors have air filters that need to be replaced every three to six months.

If the air intake filter seems gray or dirty, replace it immediately.

4. Clean the air compressor.

Clean the casing using a soft cloth moistened with water. Alternatively, you can use disinfecting wipes.

Do not use abrasive cleaners, and dry the casing immediately with a soft cloth.

You should also lubricate the compressor motor; check your machine manual for the instructions.

5. Handle the device with care.

Avoid subjecting the compressor or any nebulizer components to strong impacts, such as dropping on the floor.

6. Keep your nebulizer free from dust.

When not in use, store the device in a bag or inside a cabinet or drawer.

When using it, do not place it on the floor where it can suck dirt or dust.

The Importance of a Working Nebulizer

Although nebulizers are easy to use, a few issues can develop.

Knowing what to do if nebulizer isn’t working is important because you never know when you badly need it.

Again, follow a systematic approach to troubleshooting your machine by starting with the basics, like checking the power supply.

You can also get a backup nebulizer you can take with you anywhere, like this portable ProNebu nebulizer.

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