Cared for properly, a low air loss mattress will last for years. Unfortunately, components can break — including the air cells (or bladders) themselves.
When the air cells on a low air loss mattress become defective, it’s important to replace them as soon as possible to maintain patient comfort. Fortunately, low air loss mattress cells are easy to replace, even if you’ve never done it before.
Preventing Air Cell Loss
First, it’s important to understand why air cells break, so you can prevent it from happening in the first place!
Too often, air cells break because the patient gets in or out of bed while the air pressure is alternating. When too much weight is applied to a deflated cell, it can cause a break in the tube that connects the air cell to the air hose. You can prevent this by using static mode.
The patient should always get in and out of bed using static mode. Static mode stops the alternation and inflates all the cells at once. This way, all the cells can handle the extra pressure caused by the patient’s movement. Remember to use static mode, and you won’t have to replace air cells very often.
Identify the Defective Air Cell
Static mode is also useful for figuring out which cell is leaking. A low air loss mattress with a defective cell may sag in the middle — but that’s not necessarily where the leak is! To identify the right cell, put the bed in static mode.
In static mode, all cells will be fully inflated, and should be firm to the touch. Whatever cells are not firm when the bed is in static mode are leaking, and unable to maintain air pressure. Those are the cells that need to be replaced.
Replacing the Air Cell
- Unzip the cover to expose the cells.
- Locate the defective cell. On one side of the cell, a tube runs from the cell to the air hose connector. First, unsnap the cell on the side opposite from the tube side.
- Next, unsnap the cell on the tube side.
- Remove the tube from the connector. You may have to cut the tube off by slicing the end. Be careful not to cut any of the good tubes.
- Remove the bad bladder and place the new bladder into the vinyl holders. Slide the tube over the connector.
- Snap in both sides of the new bladder into the base.
- Zipper the cover to the base to complete the installation.