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What Happens If You Run A Humidifier Without Water?

Stranger things have happened. But then, you can forget to add water to the appliance. Or perhaps you just want to run an experiment.

Modern humidifiers like Crane Drop Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier are designed to shut down when they run out of water.

But the auto-shut off feature could fail. You could also be running an old model that doesn’t have one.

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But really, what happens if you run a humidifier without water? Dry air will come out of the humidifier. Many people who have tried or forgotten to add water to their humidifying appliances reported that dry air came out. There was no burning smell, no extra loud noises or anything untoward, except the dry air.

Your humidifier can shut down if you run it without water

In the first place, don’t even think about it. Really! Don’t. A humidifier uses water to add moisture into your indoor air. Therefore, it is designed to run with water.

A dehumidifier on the other hand is designed to suck moist air in, remove the water and then blow the dry air out.

If the humidifier runs out of water, it is going to stop working. However, even if it continues to run, it is not going to do anything weird at all. It will not overheat, and it will not produce a burning smell.

For the humidifier’s safety, and to remove anxiety from your mind, just get a humidifier with an auto shut off feature. There are many such humidifiers on different online marketplaces. Check these humidifiers that you can buy on and other online marketplaces. 

Humidifier blows hot air if you run it without water

Let us for a moment consider how a humidifier works.

First, it sucks dry air in. It then moisturizes the air and uses a fan to blow the humid air out. How the humidifier moisturizes the air depends on its mechanism.

For example, an ultrasonic humidifier breaks water into very small particles with ultrasonic vibrations. It has a diaphragm for that.

It then releases these tiny water particles out into the air, whether they mix with the dry indoor air and make it humid enough.

You can see that when the humidifier tank is empty, it will not be releasing any droplets of moisture into the air.

Your indoor air will continue to be dry. You will not enjoy the associated benefits of humidified air, as you can see on Medical News.

How to ensure your humidifier never runs out of water

You have seen what happens if humidifier runs out of water. Nothing too weird and nothing good at all. Therefore, take the initiative of ensuring that your appliance always has water.

There are many ways to do that.

First, set a reminder on your phone. If you live in one of the driest cities in America, Italy, Australia or anywhere else, set a reminder on the phone. That way, the alarm beeps and it brings you the message why you set it. You can then check the water level.

Clean the humidifier daily. If you make this a habit, you will also have to add water to the appliance daily.

Check the humidifier every day. This works, and eventually, it becomes second nature. Can you use a humidifier every day? Definitely, you can. If it runs daily, you should check it daily.

Run Humidifier Without Water FAQ

If it is not yet clear just why this appliance really needs water, the following frequently asked questions regarding how to use your unit might help you:

Can humidifier be used without water?

Never. Water is the life and blood of a humidifying unit. Since this unit produces mist, it can only do so when there is water in the tank. Most units won’t even start to run if you switch them on when the tank is empty or absent.

Will an empty humidifier catch fire if it runs without water?

Your unit is made of plastic and electrical parts. Thus, if it does not have modern features such as automatic shut off when it runs out of water, it is possible it can overheat, melt its plastic parts and even catch fire.

Is it OK to use tap water in humidifier?

It is perfectly okay, but it is recommended that you only use distilled water. Tap water has minerals so it can lead to the formation of humidifier white dust. Minerals in the water can also shorten the lifespan of your unit’s filters. Check the user manual of your unit to see what the manufacturer recommends.

How long does water last in a humidifier?

It depends on the size of your unit. For instance, a 3 gallon tank can run for up to 16 hours without requiring a refill. If you set high mist production, the running time will be shorter and vice versa.


What happens if you run a humidifier without water? Nothing bad will happen to the humidifier.

Don’t sweat it too much if you forgot to check the water level in the morning. However, you will have dry indoor air until you add water in the tank.

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