How To Know If A Humidifier Is Working? (FULLY EXPLAINED SOS GUIDE)

humidifier not working

Imagine, it's winter heating season and your humidifier let you down.


Amount of moisture that is naturally present during the warmer months of the year lacks when the winter comes and the heating dries up the air in your home.


So, a humidifier that works properly will maintain a comfortable moisture level in your home during the cold months.


You should know that extremely dry air makes the skin feel cold and has a bad influence on your health while increasing static electricity in your home.


But, how to know if a humidifier is working? I mean, the dusty old one you just brought back from the attic.


Fortunately, a humidifier is a very simple appliance that many people can repair and troubleshoot without the need for a repairman if the need for that arises.


I explain to you how to diagnose and, hopefully, repair a broken humidifier with a minimum investment in time, expense and effort.


It doesn't matter what type of humidifier you own.


In fact, most of this discussion can easily be applied to most brands of humidifiers.


One important thing, an estimate from the technician doing annual furnace cleaning and checkup is in a range of $200-$250.00.


I was able to fix the humidifier for about $60.00.




So, let figure out how a humidifier works.


A humidifier converts water into vapor and then circulate it through the furnace ventilation system to adds moisture to the air.


You can set the humidistat and maintain the wanted moisture level in the home by turning the humidifier on and off as needed.


So, when the humidistat senses that humidity is on a lower level, the humidifier solenoid valve opens and allows the water to flow through the water panel and the humidifier fan turns on.


Some amount of the water passes through the panel and vaporize by the humidifier fan and is directed into the furnace ventilation system.


On the other hand, water that is not vaporized exits the humidifier true a drain tube at the bottom of the water panel.


The humidifier shuts off when the humidity reaches the level set on the humidistat. Then the solenoid valve closes and stops the flow of water to the humidifier.


If you want to know more about how table top humidifiers work, I recommend reading this article.





The fact is that the air inside your home will become very dry if you don't use a humidifier.


Dry air causes your skin nasal passages to significantly dry out.


This condition could make you more susceptible to illness.


If you have a cool mist humidifier, you can't always see the mist that the humidifier is emitting.


There are a few ways to affirm does your humidifier is emitting the moisture you require.




Watch the water level in the reservoir of a humidifier.


You can be sure that your humidifier is putting moisture in the air if the water level falls at a decent rate each day.


One more tip, you can draw a line with a marker at the exterior side of a humidifier reservoir.


In that way, you'll certainly see the difference of used water, of course, if humidifier works.



Humidifier humidistat

Another way to figure out if your humidifier work is that you put a humidity gauge in the same room as the humidifier.


Check the gauge a few times daily to be sure the humidifier is keeping the room at a comfortable humidity level.


And, that should be between 40 percent to 50 percent.




You can place your hand over the vent of your humidifier, where the air is pushed out.


Feeling a cool breeze means that the humidifier is sucking air in and pushing it out through the wet filter and sending moisture into the air.





If you have doubt about the effectiveness of your humidifier, don't just take it immediately to the repairman.


You can determine yourself if a humidifier is working properly.


And, there are several ways to do it.


First of all, when you turn on the humidifier you should notice an audible click followed by the sound of the humidifier fan.


Second thing, you should see water running through the drain tube at the bottom of the device.


Keep in mind that the water panel needs replacement at the beginning of every heating season.


So, if your device works like it should, there would be a significant build-up of mineral deposits or scale most.


Here is a breakdown of the probable causes and the most common problems.




One of the possible problems is that you can't notice a click when the humidifier turns on, or water doesn't exit from the drain hose.

  • No click - solenoid valve is bad or doesn't get any power and that indicates a bad control board.
  • No water exiting the drain hose - solenoid valves have a blue orifice on the exterior and an in-line strainer on the interior side of the solenoid. Both can be clogged and require either replacement or cleaning.
  • A flow of water to the humidifier - the saddle valve that connects the humidifier water line to a household water line may be clogged and block water flowing to the humidifier.




You just turned your humidifier on, but there is no audible sound.

  • No power - the device's control board is bad
  • The motor is burned out - This situation is very unlikely, but it is possible to happen.




If this is the problem, then there are several things that you can check:

  • Fully close and open again the saddle valve. You should repeat this several times. This will help you loosen any deposits that may be blocking the flow of water to the humidifier.                                                                                                                                                       
  • Another thing you can do is to close the saddle valve than unplug the humidifier and disconnect the solenoid at the output and input connections.                                                                                                 Next step is to remove the blue orifice and the in-line strainer and clean them thoroughly. You should also inspect for any damage.                                                                                                                                   If there is no damage present you should reassemble the solenoid and test again. But if water still doesn't reach the humidifier you'll need to replace these parts.                                                                                                                      
  • You should know one thing: If you don't hear the solenoid click and the fan works, there is a possibility that the solenoid valve is faulty and needs to be replaced.



humidifier doesnt run


This generally means that humidifier doesn't receive electrical power or the controls have automatically shut down.


Follow the next steps to source the problem:

  • 1
    First of all, be sure that the unit is turned on and that the humidifier is plugged into an outlet that works. Use a working lamp or voltage tester to check the electrical receptacle for power.                                                                                                                 If the receptacle seems to be dead, check the circuit breaker or fuse that serves the humidifier’s circuit.                                                                                                                                           
  • 2
    Check the humidistat setting. If the room relative humidity is higher than one set on the humidistat, the humidifier won’t go on. The fact is that it may take several hours for the humidistat to respond to the room humidity changing.                                                                                                                                                               
  • 3
    Check the reservoir of the humidifier and be sure that is full of water.                                                                                                                                                                
  • 4
    Next step is to unplug the humidifier unit and check the power cord. If it's necessary, repair or replaces it.                                                                                                                    
  • 5
    Remove the cover panel from the humidifier. Then you should remove the humidistat and check it. If something's wrong with it just replace it.                                                                                                                                     
  • 6
    At the end, if the humidifier still doesn’t work, take the unit into an appliance repair shop, or replace the device by yourself.





It's possible that a humidifier works but not as it should.


Maybe runs constantly or doesn’t do a good job.


Another option is that the humidifier is undersized for space or humidified air may be running away from the room.


Follow the next steps to diagnose the possible problem:

  • 1
    First of all, you'll need to check the unit’s specifications to be sure it can humidify the room size.                                                                                                                                      
  • 2
    Now you'll need to be sure that your home’s windows and doors are closed. If you have a fireplace, check the damper of it.                                                                                                                                                             
  • 3
    It's very important that the reservoir has plenty of water. So, check it regularly.                                                                                                                                                                
  • 4
    This one will maybe sound a little weird but be sure that curtains or walls or are not blocking the humidifier.                                                                                                                 
  • 5
    Follow the owner’s manual to disconnect the power cord and clean the device.                                                                                                                                     
  • 6
    If the fan motor has oil holes lubricate them with a couple of drops of light oil. You should, also know that some units are oil-less.                                                                                                                                                     
  • 7
    If the humidifier still operates poorly, you have one option left - take the device into an appliance repair shop or call an appliance repairman.





There can be several reasons why this happens:


FAN MOTOR is not lubricated


A noisy humidifier may be the result of a not lubricated drive mechanism or a fan motor.


Advice from my own experience is to clean periodically the water tank, nozzle, fan, to be sure they are working properly.


I use SAE #20 oil to lubricate the fan motor bearings.


To keep your humidifier working smoothly and efficiently consult your owner’s manual for other proper care and maintenance procedures.




Vibrating parts may be another cause of noise humidifier.


Follow the next steps to check is vibrating parts causes noise:

  • 1
    First, unplug the device and then remove the cover. Look if there are any loose parts. If you found some loose parts, tighten their screws.                                                                                                                                                 
  • 2
    You should also check if the fan is loose on its shaft. Wiggle the fan to check this. Tighten the mounting fasteners if it is.                                                                                                                                                        
  • 3
    But it may happen that the humidifier continues to make noise. In that case, there is nothing to do accept to call an appliance repair person or take the unit into an appliance repair shop.




It's not that unusual that a humidifier leaks.


But don't throw them away or ask for professional help.


Try my advice first.


So, if water pools or drips at the base of your humidifier, do next:

  • 1
    An important thing, disconnect the power. Check the pan or tank. You should empty water from them if necessary.                                                                                                                                  
  • 2
    Be sure the hose, wick or other water-delivery system isn’t fouled.                                                                                                                                                         



Check also if there are no broken seals or cracks in the water tank.





Some of the tabletop and console humidifiers are controlled by a humidistat.

When the humidity levels stray from a set range the humidistat turn on and off the unit.


Check humidistat of the humidifier If you think that your device doesn't maintain the proper humidity for your room or house.


A humidistat allows more or less “automatic” operation.


So, as the temperature changes, you will need to dial it up and down in order to maintain constant relative indoor humidity levels.


Keep in mind that the air feels much colder if there is a higher amount of humidity in the already cold air.


Maybe your humidistat is set improperly or may be working incorrectly if your house feels cold in the winter when a humidifier works, even when your heating system is working correctly.


You can do next, test a humidistat with a volt-ohm meter.

humidifier multimeter


To establish whether power is reaching the humidistat follow these steps:


  • 1
    Unplug the humidifier than remove the control panel, and lift the lid.                                                                                                                                                                
  • 2
    Test the humidistat with a multimeter or volt-ohm meter. Set to the RX1 scale or to K-? or ? resistance on a digital meter.                                                                                                                                                                                             
  • 3
    Now you should clip the meter to the humidistat terminals.  If you turn the humidistat from high to low the meter should jump. In other cases, if it doesn’t, humidistat doesn't work. Your option is to replace humidistat or return the humidifier to the manufacturer.                                                                                      




Now I will explain to you how to disassemble a humidifier.


You should read carefully to be able to follow those steps.


  • 1
    First, you should unplug a humidifier from the power source.                                                                                                                                                            
  • 2
    Then you should remove the humidifier body. This part is easy to remove, you just need to pull down on the plastic locking tab and swing the cover-up and toward you while lifting a bit.                                                                                                                   This way you will release the humidifier body from the other of the installation.                                                                                                                                                         
  • 3
    You should notice screws. You need to loosen them so the plastic frame that holds the guts of the humidifier, fan, motor and control board can be removed.                                                                                                                                                            
  • 4
    Now unclip the wiring assembly from the harness and then remove the frame. You should find this part in the lower left corner of the frame.                                                                                                                           
  • 5
    Lift out of the humidifier the assembly of humidifier fan, motor and control board cover and turn it over. You need to remove and inspected for any sign of damage.                                                                                                                                    
  • 6
    Make a drawing of the wiring before you remove the control board. This way each wire will be easily identified when you do the reconnection.                                                                                                                                                    
  • 7
    Now you can disconnect the wires from the control board and remove the screws that keep the control board in position.                                                                                                                                                            
  • 8
    Inspect the printed circuit in such a way, you'll flip the control board.
humidifier circuit board


If the problem is in circuit board you should notice some unusual things, like black spots.


So, if this is a problem, you can buy a new control board.


Don't panic, reassembly is simple.


Only you'll need to be cautious to avoid potential damage to the circuit board.


Follow the steps I describe to reassemble circuit board:

  • 1
    When you install the new control board doesn't tight too much the mounting screws.                                                                                                                                                              
  • 2
    Now it's time to reconnect the wiring to the control board. Gently work the connectors back and forth until you seat them properly.                                                                                                                                                  

Things To Note

Note: You should know that there are different types of a humidifier and also different control boards and other parts.


It's necessary to do little research to properly identify the correct parts for whichever brand of humidifier you are trying to fix.


You can find on the internet so many resources available that you shouldn't hit any major roadblocks.





So, you weren't sure if your humidifier worked.


And, you had the question - How to know if a humidifier is working after a year of not being used? Are there some signs I should pay attention to?


The answer was, yes, there are, and you can check and most likely fix everything yourself.


So, believe in your abilities and give it a try.


Just remember one thing, always pay attention to the user guide and follow them when you do some repair job on the humidifier.


I can tell, from my own experience, that sometimes it is possible to fix the problem at home and sometimes simply not.


Therefore, you can return the humidifier to the manufacturer, ask for some professional help or by a new humidifier.


Above I describe some of the possible causes and troubleshoot for them.


First, I described how humidifier work because it's easier to understand and diagnose the cause if you know this thing.


Also, I mentioned how to check with the help of humidistat or water level or just by yourself if your humidifier work.


I describe, as well, how to diagnose possible cause of the problem and how to fix them if possible.


At last, I write how to disassemble the humidifier in order to locate the cause and fix the problem.


I just hope that I was able to help you resolve your problem true this text.


If you have some experience with those causes and problems that are described here be free to share.


Maybe you have some additional problems and you were able to fix it. Or not?


Did someone's humidifier didn't work and this article was helpful to fix the problem?


Please be free to share your experience in order to help someone else.