How To Stop a Humidifier from Spitting Water? Causes and Fixes!

A humidifier should raise the indoor humidity level by releasing mist smoothly into your air. However, at times, something could go wrong, and the unit starts to spit out water instead of releasing mist.

Vicks is one of the most popular brand names in the USA for making humidifiers, dehumidifiers, vaporizers, and other air-quality devices. Therefore, it is little wonder that most questions about a humidifier not working properly revolve around this brand.

Today, we shall look at the problem of the Vicks humidifier spitting out water, which is a common problem with warm misters. The good news is that this problem is easy to troubleshoot and fix.

Here are the main reasons why your warm mist humidifier is not releasing mist, but is instead spitting water, posing scalding risks.

1. The unit is too dirty: There is scale from using mineral-laden water

You should try to use distilled water for your humidifier, something that I have repeated quite often in this blog.

However, distilled water might not be 100% perfect for a humidifier, because it has poor conductivity. Therefore, the unit does not release enough mist, and some even fail to release any mist at all.

That is why vaporizer manufacturers recommend adding a pinch or two of salt into the water, to make it more conductive. However, you may end up adding too much, and that is where the problem comes in.

If it has been some time since you last cleaned the unit, try doing that. You will be surprised at how many humidifier problems you can solve just by giving its interior and exterior a good cleaning.

If you live in a place with hard water or have been using tap water in the humidifier, clean the unit with water and white vinegar. The vinegar breaks the scale, and leaves the walls of the tank clean.

Also, ensure you clean the humidifier heating elements because they become caked in scale. This is one of the causes of a Vicks warm mist humidifier not working correctly.

You cannot really predict how a dirty unit is going to act. In some instances, the humidifier fails to work altogether, and in this case, it starts to bubble and spit water.

Keep it clean! Clean it at least three times a week, but if you use it daily, clean it five times a week, if not more often.

2. Did you add salt? Perhaps you over-salted the water

How Do I Stop My Humidifier from Spitting Water

Wait, do we even need to add salt to a humidifier? Well, not all the time. After all, I have often said that you should avoid adding fabric softener into a humidifier, among other things.

But if you have a warm mist humidifier, you can add a couple of pinches of salt. It helps boost the conductivity of the water.

While the manufacturer of the Vicks vaporizer may recommend adding a pinch of salt into the water, well, it can be easy to exceed that.

If you put more salt than necessary, it will cause bubbling when the humidifier starts to boil the water, the same way that a cooking pot has water boiling over and spilling.

Adding a small amount of salt is not enough because it all remains in the tank. Therefore, you need to clean it out. I recommend that you clean the tank daily.

The salt that you add to the water is not vaporized, so it stays in the tank after the water is gone. This is why you need to clean the tank as often as possible because the buildup will eventually be too much, and the gurgling and spitting will come back.

3. The heating elements are dirty

We did mention this in number one, but it is worth repeating. When the heating elements are caked with scale, they are not going to boil the water in the tank. If they do, they can cause the gurgling and spitting water through the nozzle.

You should read the vaporizer or humidifier instructions to clean the heating elements properly. If this does not stop the spitting problem, something else could be amiss.

If you have hard water in your home, and have been using it in your unit, the two heating rods will cake up fast with mineral scale. Therefore, you need to clean them more often.

4. You have overfilled the tank

This is a common problem, with many people adding water above the maximum mark. If you do this, the water will rise too high when it starts boiling, and this will cause the vaporizer to start spitting water out.

This is an innocent mistake, and many people don’t even realize it until it is too late. If you have filled the unit with water to the right mark, do not worry if the unit spits water a little bit, because it stops soon after.

How to stop your Vicks humidifier from spitting water

Knowing the causes of a warm mist humidifier spitting water is half the solution. Now, you need to know how to stop the same from happening. Just follow the steps below:

1. Clean the unit and the heating elements too

Soak the tank with water and vinegar, so that the mineral scale in the vents and on the walls of the tank can loosen up.

After adding the white vinegar and water solution, let it sit in the tank for 20 to 30 minutes. You can also swish it so that it gets to all parts of the tank.

The mineral caking on the Vicks warm mist humidifier rods can be hard. You can soak the rods, or you can use something to squeeze the rods gently and crack the caked minerals.

If there is mold in the humidifier, you can use bleach, but never with white vinegar because that could cause a toxic gas.

2. Add a little salt

Add a small pinch of salt, or at first, see whether the unit will work without salt, by adding plain water. If it produces mist just fine, well, use water without salt. But if you must use salt, add a small pinch, not daily.

Remember to clean the vaporizer tank often so that the salt does not build up inside. Remember, the unit vaporizes the water alone, not the salt. You must clean the salt out.

3. Pour out the extra water in the tank

If you notice that you have overfilled the tank, you need to pour out the extra water. This should take care of the problem.

Never exceed the recommended amount of water. Also, do not add Vicks into the water, and apart from salt, do not add anything else in the tank.


If you have a vaporizer or warm mist humidifier that spits water every 30 to 40 minutes, do not panic. First, the unit will make gurgling noises, and then it will spit out hot water through the nozzle.

This is why I recommend the best position for a humidifier to be at least 6 feet from the nearest person.

Also, you should not use a Vicks warm mist humidifier for dogs or cats because of the risk of scalding. But the best thing to do is to ensure that the unit does not spit water, by following the guidelines I have given you here.