We often get the question:
“Do you have any cheap Hill-Rom Vest Model 104 systems?”
We can’t afford a Model 105 but see that some older Model 104s are really cheap.
Well, yes there are some really cheap OLD systems out there.
They run great! Barely used, only 10 hours!!! Only $ 500.
Save yourself $ 500… or $ 1000 or even $ 1500.
Because there is a good chance you are going to be disappointed.
Many of these early units had problems with the rubber diaphragm on either or both diaphragm assemblies (#68 a & b).
As these units are now 8-10 years old, they are likely to have cracked or torn diaphragms.
This renders the entire air pulse unit worthless as Hill-Rom does not sell spare parts.
The air pulse unit will still inflate a vest garment and make all the right noises and vibrations, but it renders the treatment…USELESS if the diaphragm(s) are damaged.
Here is an illustration from the patent filing. The diaphragm is labeled # 68 / 70.
1. Check the serial number:
Model 104s start with either a 41- (USA) or 42- (Singapore)
ABI and early Hill-Rom Model 104′s, up to about 41-1XXXX OR
42-1XXXX had these problems.
We have gotten stuck with 3 of these units and therefore stay away from the early Model 104s:
41-0507X (last digit of serial number ‘X’ to preserve owner’s privacy)
41-0335X (last digit of serial number ‘X’ to preserve owner’s privacy)
42-0605X (last digit of serial number ‘X’ to preserve owner’s privacy)
2. AVOID units with serial numbers lower than 41-1XXXXX or 42-1XXXX. It only takes a few hours of operation to go from some stiffness to cracking to one or two blown out diaphragms. Here is what a blown-out diaphragm looks like:
3. To test the integrity of the baffles, put your hand over the air outlet port and feel if the unit is really generating air pulses.
(It really helps to have some test equipment or a functioning, known good unit to compare the output).
4. DO NOT let the noises or vibrations on the air pulse unit fool you. A car with a non-functioning transmission will make all the engine noises and vibrations, but it still won’t drive. We once received an air pulse unit model 104 that belonged to a patient in a nursing home. The unit even had a nice orange ‘Safety Tested’ sticker with last month’s date on it. The baffles were completely destroyed (see picture). The poor patient was probably hooked up to the vest every day, felt it inflate but was wondering what it was supposed to do, besides make noise.Great ‘Safety Test’!
IF YOU HAVE YOUNG CHILDREN OR ELDERLY PATIENTS USING THIS SYSTEM, YOU, THE CAREGIVER, SHOULD CHECK TO MAKE SURE THAT THE MACHINE IS REALLY WORKING, NOT JUST MAKING NOISES.
Put on the vest garment and make sure that it actually produces High-Frequency Chest Wall Oscillation!!!
5. It takes a special tool and some skill to open up these units, but a visual inspection can often be useful. Remember, the difference between men and boys is the ability to properly re-assemble their toys. It is not difficult to break components, tear cables, etc.
WARNING: DO NOT ATTEMPT TO OPEN THESE UNITS UP AS YOU MIGHT CAUSE INTERNAL DAMAGE AND RISK ELECTROCUTION. (Our lawyer told us to put this in).
-> Remember, if you are the ORIGINAL OWNER, these units come with a LIFETIME WARRANTY. There is a good chance that you can get Hill-Rom to replace the whole motor / diaphragm assembly for free, OR give you a new unit. Hill-Rom has excellent customer service for customers that have bought the system directly from them (at full price).
Two conditions that can cause rubber to decay, crack or tear:
HEAT – being left in a hot car, a storage unit, in the sun, or any other place that you wouldn’t want to be sitting around, either.
EXPOSURE TO CHEMICALS – ozone, chlorine or any other oxidizer.
-> DO NOT SPRAY ANYTHING into the air pulse unit.
Does this mean that ALL old ABI and Hill-Rom units are bad?
We have come across several of these units that have damaged / torn / disintegrating diaphragms.
We do not know what percentage of these units are bad or still perfectly functional.
We really appreciate Hill-Rom building such nice airway clearance systems that are user friendly, portable, lightweight and easy to use.
This has been a real advancement in respiratory care which is improving patients lives.
We have not seen these issues with newer units.
If you have any doubts about your unit and are the original owner, contact Hill-Rom for assistance.
Be careful with purchasing any medical equipment from anyone other than professionals.
Buyer beware if you do.
You might save a few dollars, but you might just end up with a door-stop, not functioning medical equipment.