Respirators - Respirator Care

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What is an example of a checklist for caring for my respirator?

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Checklist for care of respirators

  • Inspect the respirator before and after each use and during cleaning.
  • Inspect equipment designated for "emergency use" at least monthly, and before and after each use.
  • Replace all parts that are cracked, torn, broken, missing or worn.
  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions and consult CSA Standard Z94.4-11 (R2016) Selection, Use and Care of Respirators, for information on the care, maintenance, and storage of respirators.


  • Ensure that no holes or tears are present.
  • Inspect for cracked, scratched or loose-fitting lenses and missing gaskets.
  • Ensure that the metal nose clip forms easily over the bridge of the nose on disposable respirators.
  • Make sure the facepiece edges are not rippled or distorted.
  • For a full facepiece respirator, check for missing mounting clips.

Head strap/harness

  • Check webbing for breaks.
  • Look for deterioration of elasticity or fraying edges.
  • Test excessively worn head harness.

Inhalation and exhalation valves

  • Ensure the valve and valve seat are free of dust particles or dirt that may cause a poor seal or reduce efficiency.
  • Replace any missing or defective valve covers.

Filter elements

  • Ensure that the filter and mask are certified for use together.
  • Check the filter to see that they are approved for the hazard.
  • Inspect both the filter threads and facepiece threads for wear, make sure they are screwed together properly, and there is no cross threading.
  • Check the filter housing for cracks or dents.
  • Check the end of service life indicator for gas masks. Check the expiration date.

Air supply system

  • Inspect the air-supply hose and end-fitting attachments for breaks, cracks, or kinks.
  • Test the tightness of connections.
  • Ensure the proper operation and condition of all regulators, valves or other airflow device
  • Monitor the operation of air-purifying elements and carbon monoxide or high-temperature alarms.
  • Check seams in suit or blouse for rips and tears.
  • Ensure that protective screens are intact and fit correctly over facepiece (abrasive blasting hoods and blouses).

Respiratory battery pack

  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions for charging/discharging.
  • Before recharging nickel-cadmium (NiCad) batteries, fully discharge them with a discharger designed for those batteries. If this is not done regularly, the NiCad batteries may not provide power for as long as the specifications state.
  • Ensure that the batteries are fully charged before using them.

Repair, cleaning and storage

  • Do not clean with solvents.
  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Wash with a mild dish detergent or a combination of detergent and disinfectant. Use a brush and warm water (49-60ºC or 120-140ºF).
  • Rinse with clean water, or rinse once with a disinfectant and once with clean water. The clean water rinse removes excess detergent or disinfectant that can cause skin irritation or dermatitis.
  • Dry on a rack or clean surface. Position the respirator so that the facepiece rubber will not "set" crookedly as it dries.
  • Store the respirator at the end of each shift to protect it from dust, sunlight, heat, extreme cold, excessive moisture, and chemicals.
  • Clean and disinfect respirators after each use, where appropriate.
  • Permit only trained and qualified personnel to repair respirators.
  • Do not mix parts from different manufacturers.
  • Record all repairs and inspections.
  • Remove dirt.
  • Check for distortion caused by improper storage.
Half-face Respirator
Figure 1 - Sample Half-face Respirator

What is an example of a checklist for caring for my self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA)?

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Checklist for self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA)

  • Inspect the SCBA unit before each use. Test and clean after each use.
  • Inspect the equipment designated for "emergency use" at least monthly and after each use.
  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions and CSA Standard Z94.4-11 (R2016) for care and maintenance.
  • Permit only trained, manufacturer-certified personnel to maintain SCBA.
  • Do not mix parts from different manufacturers.
  • Maintain a complete record for each SCBA facepiece and cylinder.


  • Disconnect the facepiece from the breathing apparatus. Wash alone in warm (49-60 ºC or 120-140 ºF) soapy water using a mild dish detergent.
  • Rinse the water through the facepiece by placing the palm of the hand over the breathing tube connector on the exhalation-valve body.
  • Remove excess water with a paper towel or lint-free cloth.
  • Allow to air dry.
  • Sanitize according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Check for tears or cracks in the rubber.
  • Check head strap for deterioration.
  • Examine lenses for cracks, excessive scratching or other deformities.
  • Check rings and clamps securing the lens for bends or bulges in the metal.
  • Check the exhalation valve to ensure that it is properly located and that the valve cover is in place.
  • Test the exhalation valve. Block the air intake opening and exhale gently. If the exhalation valve is not working properly, a heavy blow-by will be felt at the temples. Inhale and a partial vacuum will be formed.
  • Do not mix demand and pressure-demand facepieces and regulators.


  • Check the regulator, breathing-tube threads, pressure gauge, and bypass and mainline valves for impact damage.
  • Store with the cylinder valve completely closed.
  • Bleed off air remaining in the regulator after each use, following manufacturer's instructions.

Breathing tube

  • Stretch the breathing tube and check for cracks, tears and punctures.
  • Check gaskets.
  • Check clamps and rings to ensure that they are tight, properly located, not dented and not excessively corroded.
  • Wash the breathing tube separately and allow to air dry. If it is permanently attached to the facepiece, allow the breathing tube to dry for several days before using.

High-pressure hose

  • Check the hose for cuts, bubbles and abrasions.
  • Check the fitting between the high-pressure hose and the regulator for damage.

Audible alarm

  • Check the audible alarm for damage.
  • Clean bells or whistles.
  • Ensure that the alarm is working. If the alarm does not go off when the pressure reaches 20-25% of service time, the unit is defective. Remove the unit from service.


  • Inspect the straps of the backpack for excessive wear, broken stitching, and damaged or missing hardware.


  • Ensure cylinders are hydrostatically tested as set out in CSA Standard Z94.4-11 (R2016), Selection, Use and Care of Respirators.
  • Inspect for cuts or gouges that can cause the unraveling of the composite fibers of the cylinder overwrap.
  • Check unwrapped cylinders for impact damage.
  • Check for evidence of exposure to heat. Look for discoloured paint or melted gauge lenses.
  • Ensure air meets air quality set out in CSA Standard Z180.1-13, Compressed Breathing Air and Systems.

Cleaning the rest of the unit

  • Remove backpack, cylinder and regulator assembly.
  • Clean with water, or soapy water.
  • Wipe the regulator, high-pressure hose, audible alarm, air cylinder, backpack and harness with a damp cloth.
  • Dry with a cloth.

Contact the governmental occupational health and safety agencies in your jurisdiction to find out additional information on regulatory requirements for respiratory protection.

  • Fact sheet last revised: 2018-06-04