Humidifier Not Working? 5 Common Problems

humidifier not working

All electrical appliances, including humidifiers, can malfunction sometimes. At most times, simple troubleshooting can help find a solution to the problem, which is usually the inability to provide the much-needed humidity to a particular room. It is thus important to check the humidity levels of your device to see whether or not it’s working properly. 

The humidistat in humidifiers maintains the humidity levels in a room by turning the unit on & off to preserve the set range. The temperature change can sometimes require you to adjust the humidistat to set your desired humidity level.

However, at other times, the problem might be more serious. In that case, you might have to consult a professional like Hurliman. It is crucial to know which type of humidifier you have so that you have a clear understanding of the problems that your humidifier might face and how you can fix them. 

5 most common humidifier problems

Some of the most common problems that humidifier owners face are-

Humidifier not making mist

A humidifier is supposed to produce mist to increase a particular space’s humidity levels. However, humidifiers not producing mist is a common problem that might occur when there is not enough water. You also need to check the humidifier’s settings and machine level. It is important to ensure that the wick filter is operating properly and there is no need to replace it. Mineral deposits can easily clog up humidifier systems, irrespective of the type you own. 

A good idea is to use mineral water for your humidifier to prevent salts and minerals from building up inside. Regular cleaning of the tank and base prevents any buildup from ensuring the system’s proper functioning.

Sometimes, in warm mist humidifiers, the steam takes time to develop when there are mineral deposits inside. With time, in about 4-5 minutes, this gets cleared up as the heating elements become functional once again. Keep in mind to always check the humidity levels to verify whether the humidifier is maintaining the set level. 

Later, the deposits can be cleaned on your own or with the help of a professional. The humidifier might not switch on when the room’s humidity level is above the level set on the system. This can be avoided by checking humidity levels using a digital hygrometer.

Humidifier mist smells bad

This is a common problem which can be fixed quite easily. The presence of mould and bacteria in your humidifier parts is one of the primary reasons why your humidifier produces a bad smell when turned on. The humidifier system can provide the perfect habitat for breeding bacteria and mould, producing an unpleasant smell. A lousy filter that needs to be replaced might also produce such bad odour. 

However, this problem can be taken care of by a regular and dedicated cleaning and maintenance schedule. Some ways to keep your humidifier in perfect condition are- rinsing the tank regularly after every use, Cleaning the humidifier system once a week, replacing the wick filter when it gets dirty, etc.

Humidifier making noise

You do not want debris to collect inside the humidifier as it can make your humidifier produce noises. Noisy humidifiers can also result from a fan motor that has not been properly lubricated. The best way to prevent such a problem is to regularly clean the humidifier’s water reservoir, fan motor, nozzle, and other parts. 

Regular maintenance not only ensures that your humidifier functions properly but also increases its lifetime. Regular lubrication of the fan motor bearings with oil is mandatory. The instructions are usually written down in the user manual for proper maintenance and cleaning for maximum efficiency.

Vibrating parts of a humidifier can also produce noise in certain situations. You need to check for any loose parts after unplugging the unit and removing the cover. Any loose screws you find must be tightened. If the fan is loose from the shaft, tighten it and wiggle to ensure it’s tight. 

However, even after such fixes, you may find that the noise problem persists. In that case, you need to get in touch with a professional who can pay you a visit or ask you to take the humidifier to the service center.

Humidifier producing white dust

One of the most common problems is a humidifier giving out white dust. Although alarming at first, this white dust is nothing but mineral residue that collects inside the system when the mist leaves into the air after evaporation. Some people might not even notice this problem unless they place the humidifier against dark surfaces. 

This problem, however, has a very simple solution, which is the use of distilled water. Tap water which is hard, usually abounds in dissolved minerals and salts that might collect inside the system. The number of mineral deposits increases with the hardness of water, which means if your supply line water is hard, you are putting excess minerals into the system. 

However, distilled water, which is boiled and condensed, is free of such minerals. It is thus best to use distilled water for your humidifier system to increase its longevity and ensure proper functioning. 

Humidifier leaking water

There are numerous reasons why your humidifier may leak water. Some of the most common causes are:

  • Wrong placement of the reservoir tank
  • Water pressure in your home pipeline is over 125 psi
  • Water blockage in the humidifier
  • Unsteady downhill flow of water in the drainage pipe
  • Clogged evaporator pad in a humidifier system
  • Dirt and debris blocking the solenoid humidifier valve 


The mentioned humidifier problems are quite common and usually have easy solutions. Though some of these problems can be repaired on your own, for others, you’ll have to consult a professional HVAC provider like Hurliman, where we have the best possible solution for any problem with your humidifier system.

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