Why Does My Vicks Humidifier Smell Like Burning?

Have you noticed the Vicks humidifier burning smell? Well, it should not be there.

This kind of problem is not the preserve of Vicks humidifiers alone. It can happen with any humidifier; as we saw in the article on Honeywell humidifier smells like burning.

If you look around a bit on the web, you will find many complaints of a burning smell from humidifiers.

Because of the way they work, humidifiers can have different types of smells from time to time.

The best thing is to find out what could be the cause of the burning smell and stop it before it escalates.

Humidifiers can also cause a musty smell in your house. In this short post, though, we shall look at what could cause your humidifier to smell like burning.

Main reasons why Vicks humidifier smells like burning

Vicks humidifier smells like burning

The first thing that you need to do is determine what kind of smell is coming from the humidifier. If your Vicks humidifier smells musty, you could mistake that for burning.

1. You are mistaking a musty smell for burning

You do not want a humidifier that produces a musty smell. Such a smell occurs because of mold in the humidifier.

Once you get rid of the mold by cleaning the humidifier with vinegar, the musty smell will go away.

Mold is also a sinister indoor allergen. Thus, if you do not get rid of it, it might cause humidifier sickness symptoms among your family members.

Also, inhaling the mold spores or letting them come into contact with your skin can cause serious mold exposure symptoms.

The sooner you can get rid of the mold, the better.

2. The humidifier does not have water

In another post, we asked: what happens if you run a humidifier without water? It will switch off, most definitely. But …

But only if it has an auto on and off function.

If it does not have this function, the humidifier might start producing a burning smell if it continues running without water.

Frankly, it is hard to say how a humidifier would behave under certain conditions. You shouldn’t run your Vicks unit without water.

3. It is overheating

You have to determine where exactly the humidifier’s burning smell is coming from. If it is coming from the electric cord, the cord could be faulty. You can determine this by smelling the cord itself.

If the burning smell is coming from the humidifier base, the appliance becomes too hot. They usually do that if they overheat.

In extreme cases, an overheating humidifier can cause fire if it is left plugged in for too long.

However, it can never explode.

4. An electrical burning smell

Burning smells are not the same. For instance, electrical burning smells like fish. If you are experiencing this kind of Vicks humidifier burning smell, the electrical components of the humidifier could have burned up.

Another cause of a humidifier’s burning smell is faulty wiring. This has to be a factory defect.

If your humidifier is still under warranty, you can have it replaced. If it is not, perhaps you can find a repair shop that can rectify the wiring.

Vicks Humidifier Burning Smell – What To Do

Vicks humidifier has burning smell

If the humidifier smells, and you determine that it is a burning smell, you need to act. First, unplug it from power immediately.

That way, if it has run out of water and is overheating, it can start cooling down.

If the humidifier smells like mildew, the cause of that is most likely mold buildup in the filters. Thus, you need to clean the humidifier filters with vinegar. You could also replace the filters with new ones.

If the humidifier smells like fish, there is burning in the electrical components. Switch it off immediately and unplug it from power. Do not use it again until a technician looks at the wiring and okays it.

Some people also complain that their humidifier smells like a wet dog. This sulfur smell comes from the humidifier because of mold or mildew. If you notice this, you just need to clean the humidifier thoroughly.

Vicks humidifier smells like burning plastic

why humidifier smells like burning

It is possible to experience a burning plastic smell from your humidifier. If this happens with your furnace humidifier, the blower motor is usually to blame.

If such a smell comes from the portable humidifier, most likely it is because of faults in the circuitry. For instance, a humidifier can stop working after cleaning because of water in the circuitry. But the water can also cause a short circuit, and there would be a plastic burning smell.

Check the power cord, too. If the fuse has blown, it will have a plastic-burning smell.

Sometimes, the humidifier can just smell if it is new. However, this should be a chemical or plastic smell, and it should go away after a few days of use.

The plastic wrapping on the unit can also smell of newness. Unless the unit or its parts smell like smoke or fire, there is no need to be alarmed.


If you notice a Vicks humidifier burning smell, you now know what to do about it. If you are not sure whether this is the smell of burning, switch off the unit.

To be on the safe side, it is best to buy a humidifier that has a humidistat and an automatic on/off feature. That way, if it runs out of water, it will turn itself off automatically.

If you are looking for a good, foolproof humidifier for home use, you might want to try the Honeywell HWM-705B Portable Humidifier on Amazon.com.