Vicks Warm Mist Humidifier Red Light: Fix It Fast!

Occasionally, the Vicks warm mist humidifier red light will come on. It will do this many times. If you check several places online, you will find many users complaining of the same.

But a Vicks humidifier red light does not mean the end of the appliance. In fact, most Vicks warm or cool mist humidifiers are fairly simple to use, in plug-and-play design.

Humidifiers increase the humidity of the room, so you can sleep at a good humidity level for the bedroom.

Warm mist humidifiers are great for sinuses and other health problems. These humidifiers also help with chest congestion.

However, they still have their fair share of problems! In the past, we have looked at several of these problems as below:

You can see they are quite a number. We have also written articles on a humidifier not working after cleaning, and in our post on Vicks warm mist humidifier instructions, we did mention briefly about the humidifier requiring a reset.

What does red light on Vicks humidifier mean?

A red light means something is wrong with the Vicks humidifier. And no, using a Vicks humidifier without Vapopads does not cause the red light.

Here, we shall try to look at some of the issues that might make the red light on your Vicks humidifier illuminate.

1. Vicks humidifier does not have enough water

vicks humidifier red light with water

This is the most common cause of the Vicks humidifier illuminating red light. If there is too little or no water in the tank, the unit flashes a red light.

Of course, by this time, the humidifier is not producing mist. It will shut down to prevent damage to the motor.

What happens when you run a humidifier without water is that the motor overheats. It can cause serious damage to the unit.

In some instances, it can also cause fire or melting of the plastic parts. Running a unit when it is low on water is also one of the main causes of Vicks humidifier burning smell.

Solution: Turn off the humidifier and unplug it from the wall socket. Give it 20 to 30 minutes to cool down. You should not remove the tank from the humidifier while it is still running. After it has cooled down, fill the tank with water and return it. Make sure you tighten the cap to stop your humidifier getting everything wet.

2. The Vicks humidifier tank is TOO FULL

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t! That’s what it sounds like.

It is not! The solution to the flashing red light of the Vicks humidifier is filling the tank with water. But this does not mean filling the tank to the brim with water.

If you do that, the red light will illuminate again.

Solution: Check the tank and if it is full to the brim, switch it off, unplug it and wait for it to cool down. Remove the tank and pour out the excess water. The red light should go off and if it does not, move on to the next step.

3. There is water in the base

water in the humidifier base

When cleaning the Vicks warm mist humidifier, you will use a water-vinegar solution to remove scale build-up on the heating elements.

But the heating element unit is attached to the base of the humidifier. Therefore, it is possible that water could leak into the base.

You should NOT IMMERSE THE HUMIDIFIER BASE IN WATER! Still, there is a risk of water finding its way into the base, and the circuitry.

Solution 1: If the humidifier is still under warranty, do not open the motor unit because that will void the warranty. Just put it upside-down on a rack to air-dry it for a few days.

Solution 2: If you love doing things with your hands, and the humidifier is not under warranty, use a screwdriver to see if there is water in the circuitry. If there is, use paper towels to dab it dry. Leave the dismantled humidifier to air-dry completely for some time and then put it back together.

Vicks humidifier red light fully filled

It is possible for the Vicks humidifier to show red light even when it is fully filled. If this is the case, check whether it is filled to the brim, because if yes, it is going to cause the red light to flash.

You can refer to the above sections to see what to do about the red lighting flashing on the humidifier.

If the water level is okay and if there is no leakage to the circuitry, check the following few things:

1. The humidifier needs resetting

After cleaning a humidifier, it requires resetting. First, fill the tank with distilled water because using tap water in a humidifier might cause scale on the tank.

The humidifier light might illuminate green to show everything is okay, but after some time, it might start to illuminate red.

If the red light comes on, switch the unit off for sometime, for about five minutes and then switch it back on. You could also disconnect the humidifier from power for a few hours and switch it on back again.

If the cause of the red light was the need for resetting, it shall go off and the humidifier will illuminate green.

If it does not go off, something else is wrong with the humidifier.

2. Water level sensor is loose

Sometimes, the water level sensor and the floating ring become loose. If that happens, the humidifier is going to show a red or yellow light.

If you have tried everything that we have advised here and the red light persists, you need to check the water level sensor.

You should only attempt this if you have knowledge. If you don’t, you could make things worse. Please take the unit to a technician to fix the level sensor and the floating ring.

3. The heating element is covered in scale

When you use tap water in the humidifier, it contains minerals and this forms scale build-up on the walls. Since this is a warm mist unit, even the humidifier boiling the water does not prevent this.

Remove the tank and the mist chimney to access the heating chamber. If the heating elements have scale, pour a water-white vinegar solution and let it stay for some time.You could then use a soft cloth to wipe the scale out.

Why is there a red light on my Vicks humidifier?

Although it can spark warning bells in your mind, a red light on your Vicks warm mister is a good thing.

It warns you not to use the unit without checking it. This can help to prevent blowing the motor of the unit.

Here are the most common causes of a red light on your humidifier:

  • Low water level or no water in the tank – If level is ½ inch or less, red light goes on
  • Heating elements are covered in scale
  • The unit needs resetting
  • Water level sensor is loose

Start with the simplest checks all the time, such as ensuring the unit has enough water and that it is not too full.

You could also try to reset the humidifier by switching it off and back on after a few hours. Usually, resetting is recommended after cleaning the humidifier.

If these fail, take it to a technician to check the water level sensor. You can also take it apart and check for yourself.

Vicks warm mist humidifier red light keeps coming on

Your Vicks humidifier is clean, there is no scale on the heating elements, the water level is perfect in the tank, and everything looks good.

But the annoying red light just won’t go away. It keeps coming back. You even double-check to make sure you have placed the unit on a level surface.

When all the simple checks and fixes do not solve this problem for you, it is time to try something bigger.

Start with the water level sensor and the float ring. This is a bit complicated so unless you are really sure you can do it, take it to a technician.

But even with the water level sensor checked, the red light could still come back. There is one final check to make, in the control board.

This is the heart of the warm mist humidifier. With many small parts and wires, something could go wrong. It could cause the red light to go on and off all the time.

If that fails, well, perhaps the unit is done for. If you open it up when it is still under warranty (Vicks humidifiers mostly come with a warranty of 3 years), it will be voided.

Final thoughts on Vicks warm mist humidifier red light

If the Vicks warm mist humidifier red light stays on, it means something is wrong. Everything is okay when the humidifier light is green.

Luckily, simple checks like the water level in the tank, cleaning the heating elements and resetting the unit seem to fix these issues.

If they don’t you could check the user manual the unit came with to find out what the manufacturer recommends.