Home » Air Quality » Why is My Humidifier Not Working? Problem Solving Guide

Why is My Humidifier Not Working? Problem Solving Guide

Has your humidifier stopped working completely or started leaking water? You may be wondering if there’s anything you can do before you take it to be repaired or whether that’s just the end of its life and you need to buy a new one.

Before you make any decisions, check out our problem solving guide to see whether there’s anything you can do to fix your humidifier’s problems. You never know how easy it might end up being.

Why is My Humidifier Not Working?
SIXKIWI Humidifier

This website is supported by readers. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.


Humidifiers are devices you can use in your home to add moisture to the air. They work by converting water into mist which is then dispersed throughout a room. They’re used to counteract adverse side effects associated with dry air, such as breathing problems; dry skin, eyes, nose, and throat; headaches, and sinus congestion. Their ability to help alleviate these symptoms is nothing to be sniffed at!

There are various types of humidifiers available on the market, differing in design, size, and price. As with any home appliance, you may encounter problems with your humidifier from time to time. But before getting frustrated or calling for help, read on. In this article, we’ll try to help you identify and fix common humidifier issues. Repairing your humidifier needn’t be a mist-ery!

What Type of Humidifier Do You Have?

All humidifiers work to create and disperse moisture but differ in how they do this. For example, some are fan-assisted, while others work using ultrasonic technology. Some are in-built to your home’s heating or cooling system, while others are small and portable. To help fix your humidifier problem, you first need to identify what type you have. Once you’ve done this, you can take the necessary steps to get it up and running again. If you’re unsure about what type you own, here’s a run-down of the main kinds of humidifiers.

Warm mist humidifiers

These units have a heating element that boils water to produce and emit warm visible mist. These humidifiers effectively remove dryness from the air and provide a degree of warmth through the hot steam they create. They’re also good for reducing germs and bacteria.

Cool mist humidifiers

These models emit cool invisible mist, so they’re great to use in the warmer months. Some come with filters to trap impurities and debris. Cleaning them is relatively easy, but this needs to be done regularly to ensure mold or bacteria aren’t allowed to accumulate within the unit.

Different cool mist humidifiers work differently in how they produce their mist. The two main ways this is achieved are through ultrasonic or evaporative technology.

Ultrasonic humidifiers

These cool mist humidifiers turn water into mist by utilizing an internal plate that vibrates at an ultrasonic frequency. They tend to be quiet as they use smaller fans, and there’s no sound produced by boiling water. Another plus is that they’re relatively easy to clean (you only have to rinse out the tank).

Evaporative humidifiers

Also known as wick humidifiers, these appliances use an internal fan to draw in air, which is then taken through a moist wick filter and expelled as cool mist. They’re cost-efficient and less likely to cause mold or mildew in the room a humidifier is placed in as they don’t cause over-condensation. However, cleaning and maintenance are less convenient as the filters need to be replaced regularly.

Have you figured out what kind of humidifier you’ve got? Fantastic! Now let’s get down to the business of getting it fixed. Here are some common humidifier issues and their simple remedies.

Why Is My Humidifier Not Working?

There’s No Mist Coming Out of My Humidifier

If your humidifier has stopped producing mist, there are a few possibilities:

It’s run out of water.

The easiest solution of all – your humidifier’s reservoir may simply have run out of water. Check it and fill it back up if it has.

There’s no power.

Another very simple one – have you checked that the humidifier is plugged in or that you’ve not lost power?

Debris is Blocking the Humidifier Spray Outlet.

Lastly, there could be debris in the way of the mister. This could simply be a build-up of mineral sediment, which is usually the case if you use tap water in your humidifier. These minerals aren’t found in filtered water, so you may want to try that in your humidifier in future.

Until then, you need to get rid of the sediment build-up that’s stopping the humidifier from producing steam. You can do this by lifting the cap of the humidifier, and scraping or chipping away the sediment. Be careful not to use any sharp objects, or you could damage your humidifier further.

Water Is Leaking from My Humidifier

Perhaps it’s not the lack of steam that’s causing a problem, but the fact that your humidifier is leaking water from elsewhere. This can be problematic, and can be dangerous if you leave puddled water close to the electric cord, so always unplug your humidifier before attempting to clean up a leak.

2 Common Humidifier Problems
Why is My Humidifier Not Working

There are a few reasons why your humidifier might be leaking water.

Your Water Tank isn’t in Place, Or It’s Got a Crack or Break in It

Sometimes it can be as simple as you not returning the water tank to its place after filling it with water. If this is the case, you can easily move it upright and click it into place and stop the leaking. If there’s a crack or break in it, you need to replace the water tank immediately.

The water pressure in your home isn’t working as it should be.

This is only applicable if you have a humidifier that’s connected to your home’s water supply. If there’s too much water pressure, you may find that there’s been an overflow of water, and your humidifier has been forcibly cut off from the system. If this is the case, you need to call a plumber – don’t take it on yourself.

The Drainage Pipe is Blocked

Again, this is only applicable if your humidifier is joined to your home’s water supply. If this is the case, your humidifier will have a drainage tube, which allows any extra water to flow out of it should it start to pool. Check the drainage pipe for any blockages by removing it from the humidifier and pumping it with water to flush out any particles or build up, then replace it once you’ve finished.

Your Evaporator Pad Is Clogged With Dirt

Every humidifier is filled with an evaporator pad, which helps to distribute the steam that your humidifier lets off. If the evaporator pad gets clogged with sediment or crystalized particles, it can stop it from working effectively, causing a leakage.

Why My Humidifier No Mist Coming Out?
Levoit Humidifier

Luckily, it’s really easy to sort this out. Simply remove the pad, clean away all of the build-up, and replace it in the humidifier. It’ll work perfectly again, and it should stop the leakages.

The Solenoid Valve is Not Working

The solenoid valve is an electric mechanism that manages the water flow from the main supply to your unit. Its function is to monitor and direct inflow from the device’s reservoir according to water levels. Once the water in your humidifier has filled up to the appropriate level, the valve closes. If the valve is blocked by dirt and grime, it might not close completely, leading to leaking water.

How to fix it? Just try the following steps:

1. First, cut off the humidifier’s water supply by unplugging the unit from its power source.

2. Next, remove the solenoid valve from the unit. Take care to remember how you’ve taken it out and where it goes so you can re-install it properly. You can use the manufacturer’s guide to help you.

3. With the valve removed, remove any dirt or debris that has accumulated on it. You can use water or air pressure to get rid of anything that may be causing a blockage.

4. Now that the valve has been cleaned and cleared, carefully place it back into the unit. Switch your device back on; any water leakage should now be a thing of the past!

White Dust is Coming from the Humidifier

Is your humidifier expelling what looks like bits of white dust? Is your floor or other dark surfaces near the humidifier being sprinkled with this? Although an alarming sight, this is quite a common problem that can be easily fixed.

These white specks aren’t actually dust particles; they’re the mineral residue that’s a by-product of mist evaporation. Using hard water in your humidifier can cause this, so by using distilled, filtered, or bottled water instead, you’re likely to resolve the issue. Although not harmful, this residue can cause your humidifier to become clogged up easily and more quickly than usual. Make the switch, and you’ll see this “dust” disappear into thin air!

A Bad Odor is Coming from the Humidifier

If the smell coming from your humidifier is raising a few eyebrows, you’ll definitely need to pay it some attention. Foul or musty-smelling whiffs usually indicate that the humidifier’s filter is faulty or needs to be replaced or that mold and bacteria are festering inside the unit. Fear not; again, there are a few simple fixes that’ll ensure your humidifier gets back to operating cleanly and odor-free. (Please note: if you detect a burning smell, this suggests another issue that needs to be resolved separately.)

Eradicate and prevent bad smells by regularly cleaning your humidifier. You need to ensure that you rinse its tank out after every use and the entire unit at least once a week (depending on how often you use it). Frequently check your filters for dirt and replace them according to the manufacturer’s guide.

The humidifier is Making Noise

It’s not unusual for certain types of humidifiers, such as ones using fans, to make some noise. But suppose your humidifier is louder than usual or making strange noises. In that case, it could be because the fan motor or drive mechanism isn’t sufficiently lubricated or is blocked.

To remedy this problem, periodically clean the water reservoir, fan, and nozzle to keep them unclogged by dirt or debris. Additionally, keep the fan motor’s bearings lubricated with the recommended oil for your particular model. By looking at the owner’s manual, you’ll discover how you can take proper care of your humidifier to ensure it stays well-maintained. A clean and well-oiled humidifier will keep it working quietly and efficiently.

If the above tips don’t work and your humidifier is still unusually loud, it could mean that some parts have come loose. Try the following steps to rectify this:

1. Unplug the humidifier from its power source.

2. Remove the unit’s cover and look for any loose parts. It may help if you examine all the screws, tightening any loose ones as you go.

3. Gently wiggle the fan to check if it’s come loose on its shaft. If it moves, tighten its mounting fasteners until it’s stable.

If these steps don’t work and your humidifier continues to make a noise, you’ll need to enlist the help of a professional to check it over and repair any issues causing it.

Humidifier Maintenance

As with everything in life, prevention is better than cure. With regular and appropriate upkeep, cleaning, and maintenance, you’re unlikely to encounter any problems with your humidifier. It’s also a good idea to ensure you get your home’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system serviced at least once a year by a trained technician. This is especially important if you have central humidifiers that are built into this system.

Smaller humidifiers usually just require regular cleaning and changing of filters to ensure they work smoothly. Just incorporate this into your routine cleaning schedule, and you should be fine. And don’t forget that distilled water will help keep your humidifier from clogging up quicker than usual. Unlike tap water, it doesn’t contain minerals that lead to mineral deposits when evaporated, making sure there’s a steady, dust-free stream of mist. That’ll mean one less thing to clean up!

But don’t beat yourself up if you fall behind on these preventative measures. Sometimes we don’t have the energy or time to keep on top of all our household cleaning or chores. Now that you’ve read this article, you have a few tips to help fix your humidifier if things go wrong. You don’t have to have technical skills or know-how to correct some common problems that occur with these appliances.

Just always remember to unplug the unit from its power source before you do anything with it. And don’t be afraid to seek technical help if the task at hand seems too overwhelming.

Many people worldwide benefit from having humidifiers to moisten the air within their homes. Dry air can cause skin and respiratory problems and encourage the spread of germs and viruses. There’s a range of humidifiers on the market to suit any household and help sustain a healthy living environment. Plus, in colder climates, a humidified house will “feel” warmer, helping to save on energy bills. By taking a little time to look after your humidifier, it’ll work to look after you—keeping you healthy and comfortable for years to come.


As you can see, there are plenty of reasons that your humidifier isn’t working properly at all. Luckily, most of the reasons that this could be happening are simple enough to deal with, without the need for a plumber or technician to have to come out and sort them.

How to fix a humidifier that doesn't steam
Not Working Humidifier

Help keep your humidifier in great working order by keeping it well maintained. That means cleaning it regularly as well as checking that all parts are working to their full potential. This could help prevent your humidifier from not working at all, and extend its life span by months, or even years.

Our Recommended Humidifiers

Most Popular The Pure Enrichment MistAire safely and quickly moisturizes dry air for up to 25 hours so you can breathe easy and get more restful sleep. High and low-speed settings combined with a 360° mist nozzle help you consistently balance and regulate the humidity in your home all year long for relief from cold-like symptoms and sinus issues.

Cool & Warm The Levoit LV600HH has everything you’d want in a humidifier, including options for both cool and warm mist and an aroma diffuser for essential oils. It comes with a large water tank and remote control.

Best of the Best The Everlasting Comfort Humidifier is equipped with ultrasonic technology and produces near-silent frequency so you can comfortably ensure your home’s optimal humidity level. An essential oil tray is included to circulate fragrant oils into the cool mist, giving you a pure and fresh smelling aroma throughout your home.

Check Latest Price >

If you have any questions or comments, please add them below in the comment section. Similarly, please let us know if you spot any mistakes or omissions. Thanks!

Subscribe to Brasq Deals

* indicates required

About the author

Hi I’m Alex, founder of HouseholdMe.com and I’d like to say thank you for dropping by. Like most of you, the first thing I look at before buying something online is reviews or buying guides. By reading what other people say will help me gauge whether or not a product is good or not.  I am trying to help people find answers, solve problems, and get inspired.

Leave a Comment