There are many reasons you could be prescribed a home suction machine for your child, if you are, this article will help you understand how to use your machine, how to troubleshoot it, and what items you should have with it. Most of this information will be universal, but this all applies to Devilbiss suction units.

When you are setup with a suction machine you should have:

  • the machine
  • transport bag
  • wall charger
  • car charger
  • filter
  • canister
  • tubing
  • suction catheter

When suctioning a body fluid, we want to try and eliminate any odors that can accumulate in the collection canister. Before you put the lid on a new canister, place a few drops of mouthwash or laundry detergent in the bottom of the canister, this will help absorb any odor. Place the lid on the canister, taking care not to let anything get stuck under the lid causing an opening or leak. Snap the canister lid on nice and tight and make sure it is even all around.

The filter protects the machine from any moisture that could accumulate from the fluid in the canister, protecting the machine, and should be replaced every 6 months.

The opening on the side of the canister lid is where we will attach our suction tubing. The other end of the tubing will attach to whatever suction method you are using whether it be a catheter or little sucker.

Once everything is connected, turn the machine on, pinch the tubing or place your thumb over the end to build vacuum so you can check your suction pressure on the gauge and make sure it is at the level you need. Use the round turn knob on the side of the machine next to the pressure gauge to adjust the pressure appropriately.

After you are finished suctioning the patient, suction some water or saline through the suction tubing to help keep it clear of potential occlusions.

A few things to be aware of –

  • Keep an eye on how full your canister is getting, if it gets too full, the machine will not be able to suction. Change or empty and reuse your canister once it becomes about ¾ of the way full.
  • Keep the machine plugged in and charging if you are home, so you always have a full battery for travel or emergency.


If you are having a problem producing suction, disconnect the filter tubing from the machine, place your thumb over the opening on the machine, and turn it on. If the machine pulls on your thumb, and the pressure gauge goes up, the machine is working, the problem is in the supply. Reconnect to the machine and continue the process down the line of the supply until you discover the section you lose suction. You may have a clogged filter, a cracked or full canister, or occluded tubing.

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