Why Is My Vicks Humidifier Not Working? [A Complete Troubleshooting Guide]

Many of us like Vicks humidifiers. It is not only of high quality but can work with an array of other cold reliefs such as Vicks vapopad and Vicks vaposteam. However, Vicks humidifier is a household appliance that can malfunction. 

Why is Vicks humidifier not working? It may be due to various reasons, but the main culprit is often the mineral buildup in the tank and base. There are often some other causes that are not so common.

In this post, I will analyze each cause and teach you how to troubleshoot. Don’t directly go for a professional, and you are likely to fix it on your own.

My Vicks humidifier is not misting

When people talk about their Vicks humidifier not working, they probably say that their devices are not producing mist. I have used a few humidifiers before, and I found some common causes of this issue, regardless of which brand the device comes from. You can check the post here.

Too much mineral buildup

Vicks humidifier works by means of evaporating water particles into the air. Even though Vicks provides various types of humidifiers, all of them are not immune to mineral buildup.

This buildup comes from the mineral components in the tap water, which accumulate gradually in the stagnant water. 

It can block the diaphragm in the base, stopping it from vibrating. Therefore, the water can’t be broken down into particles, and no mist will be produced. It could also build a hard layer on the carbon electrodes to interrupt the electric current. Wicks will also absorb these mineral deposits as well. 

Therefore, mineral buildup will cause a malfunction in every Vicks humidifier. 

To fix this problem, you should clean your humidifier regularly, at least once a week. You can pour two cups of white vinegar into the tank and scour out the base and tank. This is an effective way to remove it.

On top of it, changing out the water daily or adding a demineralization cartridge to the tank is also beneficial. 

If you are using Vicks warm steam vaporizer, you are recommended to use tap water as the mineral components can increase the conductivity and facilitate producing steam. You can even add some salt to it. Otherwise, using distilled water is your best bet.

No power

Sometimes, the water mist coming out of the Vicks humidifier can land on the cord or power strip, causing malfunction or breaker flipping into the fuse. Or you forget to plug it in fully. 

To identify the problem, you can plug in another small home appliance to see if it is working. If not, then the situation should be due to the power source. 

You may need to replace it with another power strip and go for an electrician. 

Lack of water

Almost all the Vicks humidifiers have an auto-shutoff function, allowing the appliance to stop working when running out of water. 

The solution is straightforward, just pull up the water tank, twist the tank cap, and fill the tank with distilled water or tap water. 

Many Vicks units can run up to 24 to 30 hours so that you don’t need to refill every day. But I suggest you do it for the sake of your health.

The device is not placed on the flat surface

For safety considerations, many humidifiers come with an anti-tip feature that will stop working while it is not level. 

Looking for a flat, waterproof surface to place your Vicks humidifier will immediately fix the problem.

It is working, but the mist is invisible

As we discussed before, Vicks manufactures an array of humidifiers, and not every model will produce visible mist. 

I have a starry night model, and it doesn’t come out of any visible mist at all. But it doesn’t affect its performance. It is an evaporative model and evaporates vapor through a wick. 

So you should read your manual instruction carefully to make sure it is a model that doesn’t produce visible mist.

Vicks humidifier is not working after cleaning

When you see a Vicks humidifier stop working, cleaning off the buildup is usually the first step. However, some customers found that the problem is not fixed even after cleaning the machine. 

If you happen to have a Vicks vaporizer, the problem may lie that the water is not so conductive that it is not powerful enough to turn water into vapor. 

In this case, you can try to add one pinch of salt to it and test if it works. If not, you can continue to add more salt, up to 3 pinches.

Vicks humidifier is not working with a red light on

Some Vicks humidifiers have a red light and green light to indicate the condition of your device. When the red light is on, you are low on water, and the machine stops working automatically. 

After you refill the tank, it will turn to be green again.

Vicks humidifier is leaking

It is annoying and dangerous to see a Vicks humidifier keep leaking water from the tank. The reason is often the gasket or O-ring is worn down.

Many models have a valve and tank cap integrated design, and when it is broken, the water will come out from the crevice between the base and tank.

You can get a new gasket or O-ring from the manufacturer or the local shop, making sure it can fit with the cap well.


Vicks humidifiers can stop working due to various reasons. But most of them can be fixed quite easily by following the steps in this troubleshooting guide. 

Instead of hiring a professional or sending it back to the manufacturer directly, you can check the cord, the placement, and the water in the tank. Then you can start to clean the mineral buildup off. 

If your Vicks is leaking, maybe you should replace the washer. 

Anyway, regularly cleaning and disinfecting the device is the best way to maintain your Vicks tip-top shape.

About The Author

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Liz Yang is the founder of Airsmartly. She has been working at home for a few years and realizes that the performance of the HVAC system plays such an important role in our life. She has tested dozens of products in person, like humidifiers, air purifiers, dehumidifiers, and ACs, and wants to share tips about using or troubleshooting these products with you. Her uncle is an HVAC expert with over 30 years of experience in the field, and often offers assistance when she is unsure how to handle a situation. He is also in charge of reviewing the articles on this site.

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