The Common Humidifier Problems Troubleshooting Tips

“This humidifier isn’t working again.” How many times have you heard this sentence? Since you are here, it means you encounter such issues frequently.

The primary purpose of this guide is to explain the humidifier problems and provide an appropriate solution. Moreover, you don’t need to spend additional money while troubleshooting the humidifier that’s not working.

A humidifier is a necessity to combat dryness in the winter season. If you don’t want your humidifier to stop working, read along to how to fix it.

Humidifier Won’t Turn On

Whether your humidifier doesn’t start or suddenly stops working, you need to check two main things.

First, you need to ensure the cord is plugged correctly in the power outlet, and second, check if the power outlet is operational or not. Moreover, you can also look over the fuse if any circuit breaker is switched off.

Read Also: When the Space Heater Trips the Circuit Breaker

Lastly, you should place the water container correctly on top of the base. For instance, some mist humidifiers don’t work if you don’t align the container, while others include anti-tip function and control locks for child safety.

Humidifier Not Producing Mist

Sometimes, the humidifier turns on fine but doesn’t produce mist. To address the issue, let’s understand the types of humidifiers available in the market.

Types of Humidifiers

  • Warm mist – As the name suggests, this noiseless humidifier produces a visible warm mist, perfect for preventing dry air during winter.
  • Cool mist – It’s an easy-to-clean humidifier that comes with a filter to trap the debris and impurities. Unlike warm mist, the cool mist humidifier offers cool invisible mist.
  • Ultrasonic – This type of humidifier uses a vibrating diaphragm to produce a cool fog in the surroundings. The diaphragm essentially vibrates at an ultrasonic frequency to form water droplets and disperse them around.
  • Evaporative or Wick – Includes an internal fan to pull the air inside. Later, a wick filters moist the passing air with water. Cost efficiency is one of the most significant reasons for buying an evaporative humidifier.

Is the Water Level Correct?

If the humidifier isn’t producing mist, check the water level in the container. It’s because some humidifiers start but don’t produce mist if the water level is too low.

Check the Filter

If you are using a wick humidifier, it’s better to check the wick filter if it’s working fine or requires a replacement.

dirty humidifier filter


Clogging is the most common issue with warm, steam, and ultrasonic humidifiers if you use hard water. Generally, a humidifier stops steaming in case of mineral deposits that clog the internal system. That’s why it’s better to use distilled water in the humidifiers to ensure smooth operations. 

Similarly, you should also regularly clean the base and water container to prevent any buildup. Some steam humidifiers take time to heat the water and produce mist. Therefore, you should wait for a couple of minutes before checking for the mineral deposits on the heating element.

Read Also: Pink Residue in Humidifier

The Tank Is Leaky

In a portable humidifier, the tank can leak water if you don’t align it with the base. Therefore, always ensure to place the water tank correctly before turning on the humidifier.

Similarly, if the humidifier doesn’t sit on an even or flat surface, you’ll see a puddle of water around it.

It’s important to check the source of the water leakage. For instance, water leaks if the container is broken or has a crack. Furthermore, the nozzle sometimes leaks if you set the humidifier at a higher setting.

Additionally, you need to make sure the tank caps and other components are properly sealed.

However, it’s best to call customer services if the humidifier base is leaking water. As a caution, don’t turn it on as electricity and water don’t get along as we all know.

If you have a humidifier system for your entire house, the water leakage problem may be due to:

  • Higher water pressure
  • Blockage in the drainage pipe
  • Debris accumulated on the solenoid valve

It’s better to call an expert to check the water pressure. Alternatively, you can unclog the drainage pipe and clean the solenoid valve independently without hiring a professional.

Humidifier Is Too Noisy

Many people who have breathing problems or any other allergies use the humidifier to sleep comfortably at night. In contrast, a humidifier can disturb your peaceful sleep with its noisy operations due to the following main reasons:

  • Drive or the fan motor not lubricated enough
  • Clogged fan due to the mineral or debris deposit
  • Debris deposit on the removable filters

The humidifier fan makes sounds as it blows the moist air continuously. Therefore, you should regularly lubricate the fan by following these steps:

  • Unplug the humidifier and loosen the screws of the bottom panel to see the fan.
  • Once you flip the base, you’ll see a hole to receive the lubricant and spread it to the rotating blades.
  • You can pour a drop or two of the lubricant into the hole and spin the fan manually to check if the oil has spread evenly.
  • You can tighten the screws to close the base.
  • Later, you can turn on the humidifier to see if the lubrication has resolved the noise issue.

It Smells Bad

A moist environment is favorable for the growth of mildew, mold, fungus, and bacteria. Your humidifier probably smells bad due to the presence of mold or bacteria in the filter or the water tank.

humidifier smells bad

The solution to the bad odor is to maintain and clean the humidifier regularly. Moreover, you should rinse and clean the tank before every refill. Similarly, keep an eye on the filter and instantly replace a dirty one.

Read Also: Can I Use Apple Cider Vinegar to Clean Humidifier?

White Dust Coming Out of a Humidifier

Many users complain about white dust coming from the humidifier. However, you don’t need to worry about the repair cost because the white dust is usually the mineral deposit or the debris left inside the water container.

As discussed earlier, mineral deposits are usually formed if you fill the tank with hard water. However, if you don’t have distilled water, you can use bottled or filtered water.

Therefore, white dust doesn’t mean the humidifier has stopped working. However, it’s best to clean the humidifier by following these steps:

  • First, you need to unplug the humidifier, remove all the detachable components and filters.
  • You can clean the filter and other removable parts using tap water and mild liquid soap. Next, wash the filters thoroughly to ensure no soap residue is left. Lastly, place the components aside to air dry.
  • You can soak a microfiber cloth in a soap and water mixture to wipe the humidifier’s exterior. Later, use a clean damp cloth to clean the machine.
  • One of the most effective ways to clean a humidifier is to dip a toothbrush in white vinegar and scrub the water tank interior to remove the debris.
  • Once done with the thorough scrubbing, you should rinse the water tank and let it dry before using the humidifier.

Related: Best Humidifiers Without White Dust

So, Why Is Your Humidifier Not Working Properly?

Fixing a humidifier doesn’t require you to understand the internal machinery or the technical parts. Instead, you simply need to keep the humidifier clean, maintain the desired water level, and preferably use distilled water.

The key takeaway of the above guide is not to panic if the humidifier suddenly leaks or doesn’t produce mist. From humidifiers not turning on to smelling bad, we have presented all the solutions for a humidifier that’s not working.

With a lifelong fascination with HVAC mechanics and a mechanical engineering degree from Berkeley, Thomas Johnson boasts years of industry expertise. He founded to fill the void of understandable and useful online information about complex HVAC systems. As the chief editor, Thomas strives to provide accurate and engaging content to help readers make informed HVAC decisions.

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