Why Is My Humidifier Blowing Out Water? 5 Main Causes & Solutions

The problem of a humidifier spitting out water instead of releasing gentle mist out of the nozzle is more common with warm mist units.

But don’t panic when you notice this problem.

Occasionally, as you can see in my post on Pure Enrichment humidifier not releasing mist, these units do experience problems. Luckily, they are solvable, like this one of a humidifier spitting water.

A humidifier will spit out water instead of releasing mist because of the following reasons:

  • Mineral scale on the walls of the tank
  • There is salt in the water
  • Over-filling the unit
  • The unit is too dirty
  • Manufacturing defects

Now that I have identified the most likely causes of this problem, let me expound on them a little more for you. The good news is… you don’t have to toss your unit into the trash!

1. Mineral scale on the walls of the humidifier tank

If you live in an area with hard water, you are going to experience this problem. Boiling the water in the humidifier does not solve the problem of minerals.

Only using a demineralization cartridge in the humidifier, or using a filtration system to filter the water, can help with minerals.

Sometimes, you could also add humidifier tablets into the unit to prevent the minerals from getting out with the mist, and forming humidifier white dust on your surfaces.

But as you can see, in all of these methods, somehow, the minerals remain in the tank. They then form scale on the walls.

Besides, using a demineralization cartridge only works in cool mist ultrasonic humidifiers, so you need to take good care of that.

Some of the mineral scale also forms on the nozzle area, clogging some of the outlet holes. This results in poor mist output, with the Vicks humidifier spitting out water instead of mist.

The solution

Switch it off, unplug it from the socket, remove the tank, and clean it very well. You can use vinegar to clean a humidifier tank because it will break the mineral scale.

Fill the tank to about 3/4 with a half-vinegar, half-water solution. Swish it around so that the solution gets to every part of the tank to break the mineral molecules.

After about 30 minutes, empty the solution into the sink and rinse it thoroughly with clean water.

Add filtered or distilled water to the tank before returning it to the humidifier. That should solve the problem.

2. Salt in the humidifier water

Okay, while I have said before to avoid adding fabric softener in the humidifier water, and other things, well, sometimes, you may find the need to add a dash of salt to make the unit perform better.

Salt helps the humidifier release more mist! However, the side effect of this is that the unit might start spitting water, instead of smoothly releasing mist.

Please note that you are not allowed to add salt to all humidifiers. Rather, you can only add it to warm mist humidifiers or vaporizers, to enhance the conductivity of the water.

Better conductivity makes the water in the warm mist humidifier boil faster, thus releasing more steam and raising the indoor humidity level faster.

But while the salt improves the conductivity of the water, the downside of this is that the humidifier will start spitting water instead of releasing mist.

The nozzles of the unit cannot disperse the mist fast enough when the water starts boiling, so the vaporizer starts to spit water.

This is hot water, and it can cause scalding hazards. This is why it is not advisable to use a warm mist humidifier in a baby’s room.


If you are adding distilled water to your vaporizer, just add a few pinches of salt. You can also stop using distilled water and use tap water in the humidifier. It contains minerals, which improve its conductivity.

If you must add salt, start by adding a very small amount, then increase it to a few pinches more. 1 to 3 small pinches of salt are usually enough to raise the water’s conductivity.

3. Over-filling the tank

When water boils, it rises up, and this could cause the water to start coming out of the nozzle of the vaporizer.

This is the same thing that happens when you are cooking in the kitchen when you fill the cooking pot. The water starts to spill over when it boils until you reduce the heat or the water quantity.

If you are sure you have not added too much salt to the water and it starts spitting out, then overfilling the tank is most likely to be to blame.


Just switch off the unit, let it cool down, and then pour out the excess water from the tank. This should solve the problem. Usually, overfilling also causes the problem of a humidifier making everything around it wet.

4. The unit is too dirty

When a humidifier is dirty, too many things can go wrong. I mean that you cannot expect the unit to work properly when you have neglected to give it the right care and maintenance.

A dirty humidifier can spit water instead of releasing mist, especially when the scale blocks the nozzle. As the water in the vaporizer boils, it will rise up.

This will cause the unit to spit the water out due to pressure since the nozzles cannot let the mist out fast enough.

When you clean the unit, make sure you swish the cleaning solution around so that it can dissolve all the scale, including in the nozzle area. This is going to clear up the nozzle and make the mist output easier.


It is good practice to keep your humidifier clean all the time. In the article on why a Levoit humidifier fails to work, you will see that dirt is one of the causes.

Clean it both in the interior and the exterior. Just make sure that water does not leak into the circuitry. This is one of the main causes of a humidifier not working after cleaning.

5. Manufacturing defects

I have had a 40-dollar humidifier spit water on me when I knew very well that it was not dirty and I had not added salt to the water. I was also very sure that I had not overfilled the tank.

Luckily, it had a 12-month warranty, so I just sent it back, and it was replaced with another. However, I feel that I should not have had to go through all that trouble.

If you have used it only once or twice since buying it, try cleaning the unit first. Vaporizers and humidifiers can become dirty pretty fast, especially if you live in a place with very hard water.

Is the Vicks humidifier supposed to spit out water?

Is the Vicks humidifier supposed to spit out water

When you have a Vicks warm mist humidifier, you should make sure that you do not overfill it because when the water starts boiling, it will rise up.

In turn, this will cause the humidifier to spit the water out through the nozzle instead of releasing steam properly.

Not only is this going to get everything around it wet, but it also poses a serious scalding risk to you, your kids, or even your pets. This is why I said it was not a good idea to use a Vicks warm mist humidifier for dogs.

If you have a Vicks vaporizer, running it with distilled water might not get it to make the mist that you need to raise the humidity level.

Therefore, you need to add a few pinches of salt to the unit. If you add too much salt, it might cause the unit to spit water.

Dirt in the tank also causes the spitting problem, so you want to keep the humidifier as clean as possible.

Clean your unit regularly, once to five or more times a week, depending on how often you use it. Remember to mix water and vinegar for cleaning the Vicks humidifier or vaporizer.

Wrapping it up

The good thing about humidifiers is that they are simple to operate, maintain, and troubleshoot. You can follow the humidifier instructions for cleaning, setting up, and operation and have it working as well as new in no time at all.

If you have a Vicks humidifier that does not mist but spits water, check whether you have added too much salt or whether scale has formed on the tank walls.

Usually, the problem of a humidifier spitting water is small and easy to fix. It does not mean the end of your unit unless it is new and has manufacturing defects.