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Running a humidifier is an effective way to boost the humidity level. Keeping indoor relative humidity between 30 and 50 percent has many benefits, such as promoting good health, preventing dry skin, alleviating snoring, and reducing static shock. Humidifiers provide these benefits by adding water vapor to the air.

So what happens if you run a humidifier without water? Consider the possible outcomes and how to ensure your humidifier never runs out of water again.

How Does a Humidifier Work?

Several types of humidifiers are available, but they all feature a water reservoir. Then, internal mechanisms—such as fans, rotating discs, vibrating plates, or heating elements—convert the water into vapor. Emitting this vapor into the air increases the relative humidity.

What Happens if You Run a Humidifier Without Water?

Humidifiers need water to function, so you should turn off the device if it runs out of water. Here’s what could happen if you attempt to run a humidifier without water in the reservoir:

  • The humidifier should shut down. Newer models have an auto-shutoff feature that prevents them from running once the water is gone.
  • The humidifier might expel dry air. If you have an older humidifier that doesn’t shut off automatically, it may continue to run without water. In most cases, this simply blows air into the room with no added moisture.
  • A humidifier without auto-shutoff could overheat. If this happens, the circuitry may burn or the motor may become damaged.
  • An overheated humidifier could start a fire. If left running without water for too long, a humidifier could become a fire hazard.

How to Ensure Your Humidifier Never Runs Out of Water

It’s easy to see why running a humidifier without water isn’t advisable. Follow these tips to prevent damaging the unit or risking a house fire:

  • Buy a humidifier with auto-shutoff: This way, you never have to worry, even if you run the device overnight.
  • Set a timer: If you know how long the water in your humidifier lasts, you can set a timer when you turn it on, reminding yourself to refill the reservoir before it runs out.
  • Empty and clean the humidifier daily: Start this habit so you have to top off the water before turning on the humidifier again.
  • Upgrade to a whole-house unit: Far superior to portable models, whole-house humidifiers connect to the HVAC system, delivering controlled moisture levels to every room. They also have a direct link to the plumbing line, so there’s no need to refill the reservoir or worry about running out of water.

Ready to upgrade to a whole-house humidifier? Parley’s PPM Plumbing, Heating & Cooling can get the job done. We have over 40 years of experience installing humidifiers and providing unparalleled customer service. To request an estimate, please call 801-226-3033 if you live in Utah County, or reach us at 801-229-2665 if you’re a Salt Lake County resident. You can also contact us online with any questions you have.

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