Why Did My Humidifier Stop Working & How to Troubleshoot It?

Like all electrical appliances, sometimes humidifiers do not function properly & require simple troubleshooting & repairs. Typical problems are that they don't work or work but fail to humidify a room properly.

Always check your manufacturer’s instructions first, & understand that some repairs you perform yourself may void your warranty.

Tabletop & console humidifiers are controlled by a humidistat that turns the unit off & on when the humidity levels stray from a set range. If you don't believe your humidifier is not increasing humidity for your room or house, check its humidity.

Though a humidistat helps in more or less "automatic" operation, you will need to dial it up & down as the temperature changes to maintain reasonably constant indoor relative humidity levels.

What Type of Humidifier Do You Have?

Firstly, before attempting to fix your ‘humidifier not increasing humidity’ problem and other relevant issues, you need to see which type of humidifier you have. This can help you understand & fix the issues of humidifier more efficiently.

So, now let's take a look at the main types of humidifiers:

  • Warm mist humidifiers produce warm, visible mist. They're great for getting rid of the dryness from the air, while also providing warmth.
  • Cool mist humidifiers produce cool invisible mist. They usually have filters to trap impurities & debris & are relatively easy to clean.
  • Ultrasonic humidifiers produce water droplets using a diaphragm that vibrates at an ultrasonic frequency. They make a cool fog & tend to be pretty quiet.
  • Evaporative humidifiers, also called wick humidifiers, take in the air with an internal fan's help. This air then flows through a wick filter, which is moist with water droplets. These humidifiers are cost-efficient electrical appliances.

Once you've figured out the type of humidifier you have in your home, it's now time to tackle the issue at hand.

Why is My Humidifier Not Making Mist?

If your ‘humidifier is not turning on’ as it should, but doesn't produce mist, several areas could be causing this problem. Some are technological, so you need to ensure the humidifier has enough water to function correctly. If your machine isn't level, a humidifier may cause a ‘humidifier not making mist’ problem even if there is some water in the tank.

With a cool evaporative mist - the humidifier, check the wick filter & ensure that it doesn't need to be changed. That's a common humidifier issue that's often overlooked, but cheap & easy to address. Clogs can happen with ultrasonic & steam humidifiers as well, however, especially if you have got hard water in your home.

A humidifier not making mist can also be due to mineral deposits, which can quickly clog up a system regardless of the humidifier style. That's the reason why manufacturers recommend using distilled water in a system. Cleaning the tank & base thoroughly will eliminate this build-up, & our humidifier cleaning guide will show you how to maintain any humidifier, whether it has got a wick filter or produces a warm mist.

Another easy method to fix ‘humidifier no steam’ issue is to wait. It needs some time for the heating element to warm up enough to produce the desired effect, mostly if the humidifier's heating element is covered with mineral deposits. Waiting for about 4-5 minutes may fix the humidifier issue, but it's essential to check the actual humidity level in the area as well.

If the room's humidity level isn't above the level you set on the system; then there will be a problem of the humidifier not turning on. That's a standard error many people make, but you can also fix it with a digital hydrometer. These inexpensive devices and instruments allow you to measure the humidity level in a room, & they are straightforward to use.

Why is Humidifier Leaking Water?

If your home humidifier is leaking water, we have got all the troubleshooting & repair tips you need to get rid of the problem.

Usually, for portable humidifiers models, water might leak if the reservoir tank isn't placed correctly. So, before starting your unit, make sure that the tank is in its place entirely.

On the other h&, for whole-house units, different reasons might lead to water seepage.

Before calling a humidifier professional, you can try troubleshooting your humidifier by following some of these tips.

Water Pressure

You can start by examining the water pressure in your whole plumbing system. Most of the time, whole-house humidifiers use the same water source as the rest of your house. You may also find a small pipe connecting with the main water supply to the humidifier.

Generally, the pressure of your pipelines should be less than 125 psi. Unless you're a plumbing expert, it's best to call for a technician.

Drainage Pipe

Besides connecting to the main water supply in your house, whole-house humidifiers also have a drainage tube, which enables your excess water to flow out.

If there is any water blockage or if the downhill flow is unsteady, water leakage might be possible.

Make sure and check to see if anything is blocking the water hose. You can also remove the pipe from the humidifier & run water through it to remove any blockage. When attaching it back onto the humidifier unit, make sure there aren't any twists.

Evaporator Pad

Like many portable humidifiers, any obstruction on a whole-house humidifier's humidifier filter may also cause water leakage. Whole-house humidifiers create steam when air is blown through a filter known as the evaporator pad.

As with many portable humidifiers, the evaporator pad can get clogged over time due to minerals & other dirt. In most cases, you can clean the evaporator pad, & your unit will be as good as new. To better understand the humidifier cleaning process, see the instruction manual that came with your unit.

Solenoid Valve

This word 'solenoid' may sound technical for some, but trust us, it's nothing too complicated.

The solenoid valve means the electric valve that manages water flow from the main water supply to your unit. It monitors the water levels in the humidifier reservoir, allowing more inflow when the water level is down. Once the water has entered up to the needed level, the valve closes.

However, sometimes, dirt & debris can also accumulate on the humidifier valve, preventing it from closing completely. This may eventually result in water leakage.

You can fix this leakage issue by following these steps:

  • Start by cutting off the water supply & by unplugging the unit from the power source.
  • Remove the unit's valve; make sure you understand how it is installed before you remove it.
  • You can use air pressure to get rid of the debris from the valve.
  • Once the dirt & debris are gone, you install the valve back into the unit.

White Dust Coming from a Humidifier

The white dust issue with a humidifier is another big problem that many homeowners might have to experience. It can be alarming at first for some people, especially when the electric humidifier is placed near darker surfaces or anything black.

Well, that white dust is a mineral residue that's left behind when the mist evaporates into the air. It's because of hard water in a humidifier, but can be solved by switching to distilled water.

Bad Odor from the Humidifier

Whenever you turn on a humidifier & get a terrible smell, it gets your attention. The good news here is that as long as it isn't a burning smell, it's another easy fix. The most common reason for a bad odor from a humidifier is a lousy filter or mould & bacteria in your system.

This is remedied by cleaning your humidifier & setting up a regular maintenance schedule. It would help if you rinsed the tank after every use, but the humidifier system needs to be "cleaned" once in a week in most cases. If the wick filter in your humidifier system is dirty, replace it.

Humidifier Makes Noise

A noisy humidifier may result from a fan motor or a drive mechanism that is not lubricated or is clogged with debris. Periodically clean the water reservoir, fan, & nozzle to ensure they are working correctly.

Lubricate the fan motor bearings with oil. Make sure to see your owner's manual for other proper care & maintenance procedures to keep your humidifier functioning smoothly & efficiently.

Another cause of a noise can be vibrating parts. To check for this:

  • Unplug the unit, remove the cover, & look for any loose parts. Tighten any loose screws.
  • Wiggle the humidifier fan to see if it is loose on its shaft. If it is, tighten the mounting fasteners.

If the humidifier continues to make noise, call an appliance repair person or take the unit into an appliance repair shop.

Possibilities Why your Humidifier Does not Work Properly

If your home humidifier not making mist, there are a few possibilities:

  • It’s Run Out of Water: The most straightforward solution of all – your humidifier's reservoir may have run out of water. Check it & fill it back up if it has.
  • There’s No Power: Another straightforward one – have you checked that the humidifier is plugged in or that you've not lost power?
  • Water Is Leaking from My Electric Humidifier: Perhaps it's not the lack of steam that's causing this issue, but the fact that your humidifier is leaking water from elsewhere. This can be problematic, & can be dangerous if you leave puddled water close to the cord, so always unplug your electric humidifier before attempting to clean up a leak.
  • Debris is Blocking the Electric Humidifier Spray Outlet: Lastly, there could be some sort of debris in the way of the mister. This could be a build-up of mineral sediment, which is the case when you use tap water in your humidifier. These tap water minerals aren't found in filtered water, so you may want to try it in your future humidifier.
  • Until then, you also need to get rid of the sediment build-up that stops the ‘humidifier no steam’ problem. You can do this by lifting the humidifier's cap, & scraping or chipping away the sediment. You need to be careful not to use any sharp objects, or you could damage your humidifier further.

    Effects of Humidifier Dust

    Does the humidifier leave white dust? It depends on which type you buy. If it is ultrasonic, it will. This applies to any other brand name. Always ask that question before buying.

    We agree that this dust is not cool at all. Due to this reason you are reading this guide to know all about it. However, it is harmful? We will look at that. We will see whether it has any adverse effects on your things or your person.

    • Effect on household items

    The white film produced by the humidifier is not harmful to any of your household items. It is nothing to be worried about.

    It does not, in any way, start the deterioration of your humidifiers' quality. Just as with the typical mist or dust, you can remove it from the surfaces with the help of a piece of cloth. It doesn't need any special treatment to get rid of it.

    If you have got mineral-laden water in your home, you will do better to find the best electric humidifier for hard water, to prevent the formation of too much white film on your things.

    • Effects of the Dust on Your Health

    In most of the cases, the humidifier dust is harmless to most items at home. It is nothing to be concerned about.

    However, inhaling white dust may cause serious health problems for infants. It can also be problematic for people who suffer from breathing problems such as asthma & allergies.

    As we mentioned many times in this post, tap water usually contains minerals, mostly rock dust.

    These minerals are harmless when they are suspended in the water. However, they can become toxic once they are aerosolized into small particles that freely float in the air.

    Once you inhale these fine air particles right into your lungs, they can turn out to be dangerous to your health. They can cause severe lung problems. Therefore, if you have got any respiratory issues, get a dust-free humidifier.

    One research conducted by the University of Utah found out that a baby developed severe lung problems after inhaling humidifier white dust.

    With that said, it means that as much as the pale dust might not pose a threat to your health, you need to be cautious about it.

    The same appliance that makes your house more comfortable can turn out to be a significant threat to your family's health. However, you can also use the following tips to avoid it or get rid of the dust in your home.


    While we just touched on the more common humidifiers problems & how to fix them, various other small issues plague users, including indicator lights not turning off, humidifiers not turning on or condensation around windows. Your user manual is the best defense against problems with a humidifier, but it's always important to consider things like humidifier placement & to size into account.

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

    Remember that a little care & maintenance can add to the efficiency & longevity of your humidifier.


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    I’ve got a brand new unit – just out of the box – filled the tank, plugged it in, it stops working after a few seconds, two flashing red lights (tank water is low – but it’s not, it’s full) – what can we do?

    Ken Grant November 22, 2021

    The humidifier stopped producing steam. Please help me with this. I got this last year but have only used it maybe 10 times.

    Toni sanchez February 15, 2021

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