How to Fix a Humidifier That Doesn’t Steam: 5 Vital Checks

Knowing how to fix a humidifier that doesn’t steam is not too hard.

Your humidifier produces tiny droplets of water that come out of its nozzle as mist or steam, depending on whether it’s a cool mist or a warm mist humidifier.

If you are using an ultrasonic humidifier, it produces a cool mist and makes white dust. If you are using a warm mist unit, it produces warm steam.

In another article, we discussed the Pure Enrichment humidifier problems. One of them is failure to produce mist.

Here, we shall look at the problem of a warm mist unit not producing steam.

How To Fix Humidifier No Mist

How To Fix Humidifier No Mist 

A cool or warm mist mister is a pretty simple device, well, unless it is a whole house one. There really aren’t many things that could go wrong. Here is how to fix a humidifier with no mist.

1. Unplug your humidifier and empty it

Water and electricity cause serious hazards. Thus, unplug the humidifier from the wall socket and then empty the tank completely.

If you are fixing a battery powered humidifier, remove the batteries first if it is necessary to do so.

2. Check the basics first, like the cables

Always start by checking the simple things, such as the power cord. Is the unit plugged in properly? Is it running but not producing steam?

Check whether the humidifier contains water.

If the power cord is okay and the unit is running but not producing steam, you can move onto the other steps.

Most times, you might find that nothing needs fixing in the unit.

Read: Why is my dehumidifier blowing cold air?

3. Empty the base

Humidifiers can be weird. For instance, many people report that when the base of their humidifier is full of water, the unit simply refuses to pump out mist.

Even before you check the heating element, check the base. If it is full of water, pour it out and then test whether it will start producing mist.

4. Check and clean the heating element

Image of humidifier not putting out steam
heating elements with scale

Warm mist humidifiers have heating elements.

If you have been using tap water in your humidifier, a heating element caked with dried mineral deposits is the first culprit.

This is even more likely if you have hard water in your area, and have not been using a demineralization cartridge.

The heating element is made of titanium. When the water heats up, the minerals in the water start sticking to the heating element.

This continues until a time when the mineral scales do not allow the heating element to heat the water. That is why the steam humidifier stops producing mist.

How to clean Honeywell humidifier heating element

Let’s assume that you have a Honeywell humidifier, and you have now discovered that the reason for the humidifier not putting out steam is that the heating element is caked with minerals.

So, how do you clean the heating element off the mineral deposits? It is not too hard. Read on!

1. Clean the heating element with white vinegar

how to clean humidifier with white vinegar

After unplugging the humidifier and removing the top cover, remove the heating elements. Usually you just need to grasp a latch or the heating element cover and then pull it straight upwards.

This can differ from one unit to another, but the humidifier user manual PDF will have all of this information.

The heating elements are now exposed. Take about 4 cups of white vinegar and add it into the tank. It will drain into the heating chamber, the same way the water does.

Let it stay for about 20 minutes. It is going to loosen the mineral scale that coats the heating elements. You can also add the other accessories that you need to clean with white vinegar into the tank.

After 20 minutes, remove the accessories you had put in the tank so that you can access the heating elements.

Using a soft-bristled brush, scrub the heating elements. You can then pour out the white vinegar. You will notice that the heating elements now look cleaner!

Also Read: Effects of high humidity on the body

Add 4 cups of clean water in the tank. Swish the water around the tank and then pour it out. You want to rinse away the smell of vinegar from the tank.

Smell the tank and if it still reeks of white vinegar, add more water and swish it around some more.


2. Using bleach

Even if there are no signs of mold in the humidifier, it does not mean that it is not there.


Something very important to note here: Bleach and vinegar should never mix. If they do, they create a poisonous gas that can kill or take you to hospital.

how to use bleach to clean humidifier

After rinsing the white vinegar out, you need to add one and half teaspoons of bleach into a gallon of water.

Add the solution to the tank and use it to clean the sides of the humidifier reservoir/tank, and let it sit for 20 minutes.

Pour the solution out and then pour in enough water to clean any traces of bleach out, completely.

You can continue rinsing the reservoir until the smell of bleach is gone completely.

Also read: Is 70 percent humidity too high outside?

Replace all the accessories that you had taken out, add water to the tank and plug it in. Check whether it produces steam.

The main reason for using bleach is to kill mold and bacteria. If you do not, they will be passed out to your indoor air through the mist.

3. How often should you clean the humidifier heating element?

If you use distilled water, you can check the humidifier at least once a month. However, if you use tap water, you might need to clean the heating elements once a week.

If you do this, your humidifying unit will run efficiently, raising the humidity level in your house through the entire cold and dry winter season.

Image of How To Fix Humidifier No Steam
A clean heating element without scale

Don’t just check the heating elements. Check the humidifier filters too since they too get dirty. Also, check the health of the power cord.

Do not clean the reservoir only. Clean the exterior of the unit.

5. Replace the humidifier

Every electrical appliance has a lifespan. Thus, if your unit is too old, perhaps it is just time to get a new one!

Small, cheap units break down after 12 months or so. If you paid $30 for your humidifier, it does not make sense to replace anything if it has served you for 12 months or more.

How to Fix Humidifier Mist: FAQ

Knowing how to fix your appliances can help a lot to get full efficiency out of them. However, when you have the issue of an evaporative or ultrasonic humidifier not steaming, it can be flustering.

If you are still not sure what to do, these frequently asked questions might help you:

Why is my humidifier not misting?

There are many reasons. If it is a cool mist one, you can check the base, empty it and try again. You can also check basic things such as power cord, whether it has enough water in it and so on.

If it is a warm mist unit, check the heating element. If it has scale, it is preventing the production of mist.

How do you unclog a humidifier?

Humidifiers can get clogged up if you have made a habit of adding essential oils into it. To unclog it, empty it, add a few cups of white vinegar and let it stay for some time. It will break the molecules of the grease or scale that is clogging the unit.

Why is my humidifier not putting out steam?

The main reason for a warm mist humidifier not giving warm mist is the heating element not working.

Check the element for scale formed by a coat of minerals, or find out whether it is just broken down. If it is not heating the water, there will be no steam.

How can I make my humidifier produce more mist?

To get the humidifier to produce more mist, increase the temperature of the room where it is working.

There is a relationship between humidity and temperature. The higher the temperature of the air, the more moisture it can hold.

Also, turn the mist knob the furthest it will go. This will increase the mist production. If you need less mist, turn the knob down a bit.

How do you fix a low mist humidifier?

A low mist humidifier needs to be used in a small space so that you can enjoy a faster increase in the humidity.

If it comes with a knob for increasing or decreasing mist output, use it. If there is no mist at all, try different things like emptying the base, or checking the heating element for warm mist units.

Can you see mist from the humidifier?

Not all the time. However, you will definitely feel the difference in the humidity level. However, if it is a warm mist unit, you can definitely see the mist coming from the nozzle.

If you are worried that your unit is running but not releasing mist, put your hand against the nozzle. You will feel the vapor pumping out.

Why is my Honeywell humidifier not misting?

One of the causes could be damaged power cords or power sockets. If you certify that they are okay, check whether it has water.

If yes, check whether it is broken. For a warm mist unit, check whether the heating elements have scale.

Final Thoughts: How To Fix A Humidifier That Doesn’t Steam

During the cold season, you have to turn on the heating at home. Unfortunately, this heat dries out the air, which can allow certain winter season allergens to thrive.

The only solution is to turn on the humidifier and increase indoor humidity. You can use a cool mist or a warm mist humidifier. If you have the latter, it has heating elements that cake up with minerals, if you use tap water.

In that case, it is not going to produce steam! If that happens, this short post has 5 vital steps to help you fix it, and get your mist back.