How Long Do Humidifiers Last?

In this article, we discuss how long humidifiers should last. 

When buying a humidifier, it is important to consider how long it’ll last. Furthermore, there are a couple things you can do to extend the lifespan of your humidifier. 

Generally speaking, a well maintained humidifier shouldn’t give you too much trouble. Most modern units are so efficient and well-built that they can easily last you a couple years without any issues. 

Still, if you want to get the most out of your unit, there are some things you can do to ensure maximum longevity. 

Not to toot our own horn or anything, but we’ve pretty much cracked the code for extending humidifier lifespan, and we’d love to share our findings with you. 

For more information about the longevity of humidifiers and how to extend it, keep reading. 

How Long Should Your Humidifier Last?

So how long should a humidifier last? Well, generally speaking, a humidifier you bought new shouldn’t have any issues for at least a couple years. 

The truth is that there is no hard and fast rule for how long a humidifier should last. In fact, how long your unit lasts depends on a myriad of factors including the make and model of the humidifier, the type of humidifier, how well you maintain it, and of course how often it gets used. 

So if you were hoping for a definite answer, you’ll be disappointed. 

Still, in our experience, a brand new humidifier has the potential to last anywhere from a few months to a few years or more, depending on the quality of build, the components used, and even the features offered (more on that later). 

Signs Your Humidifier Needs To Be Replaced

So how do you gauge whether your humidifier needs to be replaced or not? There are a couple tell-tale signs that you should look out for. 

Spraying Water Instead Of Mist 

One of the most common signs that your humidifier is on its last legs is if it starts spraying water instead of mist. This could mean that there is something wrong with the mechanism that diffuses  the water and turns it into mist. 

These internal components are prone to failing after a couple thousand hours of use, which means water goes directly from the tank into the nozzle, and out into the air.

Poor Humidification

This one is pretty self explanatory. If your humidifier isn’t working as well as it once did, it might be time for an upgrade. You might notice that the humidifier doesn’t work as quickly as it once did. 

Besides taking longer to humidify a space, it also might be having trouble covering larger spaces effectively. Corners of a room that were previously nice and humid might now be as dry as the Sahara!

Excess Deposits In The Water Tank

You might notice that there are some stubborn stains, marks, or mineral deposits in the water tank of your humidifier. And try as you may, they just won’t budge. 

It’s even possible for the tank to develop mold. And while you can usually clean mold out of a humidifier, sometimes it’s just not in the cards. 

These kinds of persistent obstructions can render a humidifier totally useless. So if you notice something like that, consider getting a replacement. 

Higher Noise Levels 

Faulty internal components can cause the humidifier to run a lot louder than usual. And if you don’t notice this during regular operation, you’ll definitely notice it if you sleep with the humidifier running! 

If you notice higher noise levels, it is possible to find and repair the errant internal components. However, if that isn’t an option, you’ll have to get a new unit. 

How To Make Your Humidifier Last Longer

Say you haven’t experienced any of the above-mentioned symptoms of an aging humidifier. Instead, you want to extend the lifespan of your unit as much as possible. Well, here’s what you can do. 

Use Distilled Water

One of the biggest concerns with humidifiers that get used regularly is build up inside the humidifier. Your humidifier is especially susceptible to build up if you use hard water, tap water, and the like. 

The build up could be due to impurities and contaminants in the water, dust, and even heavy metals that proved too much for your humidifier’s filter. 

That’s where distilled water comes in. We are huge proponents of using distilled water over purified water in your humidifier. This is because, unlike purified water, distilled water is free of all minerals and heavy metal deposits, in addition to being free of contaminants and biological matter. 

Ergo, there is virtually nothing in the water to get stuck or deposited in the humidifier. 

Clean The Unit Regularly 

Too often, we have readers tell us about their humidifier malfunctioning, underperforming, or just failing on them completely. When inquired about maintenance, they give us some concerning reports of weeks, if not months without proper cleaning, full tanks left stagnant for days on end, and non-existent filter replacement. 

Folks, your humidifier needs regular cleaning and maintenance. That doesn’t mean a quick wash every other week. It means a full clean at least once a week; even more if the humidifier gets used a lot. 

In fact, besides regular cleaning, you also need to keep up with the disinfection of the water tank to avoid any build up of microbes, pathogens, and the like. 

And if your humidifier doesn’t get used that often, it is important to empty the tank in between uses. If left unattended, the water could become still. We hope we don’t need to tell you why that’s a serious problem. 

Replace The Filter

Another cardinal sin of humidifier use is not replacing the filter regularly. You don’t need to do this nearly as often as the cleaning, but some people still ignore it. 

An old filter can become logged with contaminants and impurities, rendering it less effective. In fact, the filter is the second most susceptible component to mold after the water tank. 

How often you replace the filter will depend on how much your humidifier gets used. However, even if you’re using distilled water and running the humidifier a normal amount, we recommend changing the filter at least once every 2-3 months. Again, your mileage will vary. 

Lower The Mist Volume 

One possible reason your humidifier is conking out is because you are asking too much of it. A humidifier, like any machine, will take a beating if you keep using it at high settings. 

And it’s not just high mist volume settings that can reduce the lifespan of your unit. If you use the warm mist mode often, you’re putting even more strain on the unit as it has to heat the water in addition to diffusing it. 

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use these functions and features; it’s what the humidifier was designed to do after all. But everything in moderation. 

Set A Timer

One of the most underrated ways of enhancing your humidifier’s lifespan that doesn’t get talked about enough, is using the timer. 

If you regularly leave the humidifier running while you sleep at night, it’s a recipe for reducing the effective lifespan of the unit. By setting a timer, you can allow the humidifier to take a breather after running for a while. 

Those precious few hours that you save definitely add up in the long run and give you improved humidifier lifespan. 

How To Pick A Humidifier That Lasts

So now that we’ve discussed why yoru humidifier might be having problems and what you can do to counter them, let’s touch on how to choose a humidifier that will last you a long time. 

Build Quality Matters

It might come as a surprise to a lot of people, but the build quality of a humidifier actually plays a role in how long it can last. Obviously, your humidifier won’t be getting kicked around the house or falling off shelves every day, but the fact remains that well-built units outlast lower quality ones. 

Build quality is important if only for the fact that a high quality shell points to equally high quality internal components. Conversely, if the outer shell of your humidifier is a clunky, cheap-feeling unit it’s probably a similar story on the inside. 

Look for durable, high quality humidifiers, and you won’t soon have to go looking for a replacement. 

Higher Performance For The Win

This is another factor that might sound counterintuitive at first. Surely, the higher the performance, the more strain on the internal components, and reduced longevity as a result? Right? 

Not quite. 

While it is true that the higher performing units sustain a lot of strain when running at the limit, odds are you won’t be using them at such high settings that often. 

Basically, you want a humidifier that has a higher ceiling for the performance. Most days, you’ll only be demanding, say, 70% of what the unit is capable of. Using it at these conservative settings means you effectively increase the lifespan, than if you had been using it at max settings 24/7. 

So look for humidifiers that have larger capacity tanks, higher coverage ratings, and higher maximum mist volume. 

If It Sounds Too Good To Be True, It Probably Is

Say you see a humidifier with every bell and whistle on sale for really cheap. The deal of a lifetime. You can’t afford not to buy it!

Often, we see humidifier units that offer great deals on a unit that seems to have it all, but it’s priced much lower than you’d expect. While you can get some great units for cheap on deals like this, not all that glitters is gold. 

If a feature-rich unit is selling for an unbelievable price, it’s probably because the manufacturer saved money by cutting corners. A low quality diffuser here, a faulty nozzle there, and voila! You’ve got the deal of a lifetime!

This is where you have to exercise some savviness of your own to make sure you don’t end up buying a lemon.


Shawn Willis is all about humidifiers. After working for some of the biggest names in the industry, he started HumidifierGuys with Scott Dawson. Now, the dynamic duo helps others figure out what they need in their next humidifier.

Shawn is an avid sports fan, motorcycle enthusiast, and has two dogs named Whiskey and Boba.