Risk management is an important aspect of home ventilation (HV). We examined the nature of calls to a home support helpline to identify patient/equipment problems and strategies to minimise risk for patients, healthcare teams and manufacturers. From 1,211 adult and paediatric patients with neuromuscular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or chest wall disease receiving HV, all calls to a dedicated respiratory support telephone hotline between January 1, 2006 and June 30, 2006 were analysed. 1,199 patients received noninvasive ventilation, 12 tracheostomy ventilation; 149 had two ventilators for 24-h ventilator dependency. There was a mean of 528 daytime calls per month and 14 calls a month at night. Following 188 calls, a home visit was performed; these identified a technical problem that could either be solved in the patient's home in 64% or required replacement or new parts in 22% of cases. In 25 calls in which no mechanical fault was identified, 13 patients were either found to be unwell or required hospital admission. Patients using HV have a substantial requirement for assistance, with most technical problems being resolved simply. Where no fault can be found during an equipment check, the patient themselves may be unwell and should receive early clinical evaluation. The patient may have mistaken clinical deterioration for an equipment problem.