Humidifier Making Gurgling and Bubbling Noises

This article talks about the gurgling and bubbling noises some humidifiers make. 

All humidifiers make varying levels of noise. If you noticed your unit making gurgling and bubbling noises, it may or may not be of concern. 

The gurgling and bubbling noises coming from a humidifier can be due to air rushing into the water tank, or water moving from the tank to the nozzle. 

While gurgling and bubbling noises are completely benign in most scenarios, they could point to a more concerning situation inside the humidifier in some cases. 

We love diagnosing and solving different problems in humidifiers so that we can help make your experience better. If you’re concerned about excess noise coming from your humidifier, leave it to us. 

Keep reading for more information about gurgling and bubbling noises in humidifiers. 

Why Your Humidifier Is Making Gurgling And Bubbling Noises

There are actually a couple different reasons why your humidifier could be making gurgling and bubbling noises. Most are completely normal and shouldn’t concern you, but others might require immediate attention. 

Air Rushing Into The Water Tank

One of the most common reasons why your humidifier might be making gurgling and bubbling noises is because of air rushing into the tank. 

This problem is especially noticeable with cool mist ultrasonic humidifiers. That’s not to say that warm mist humidifiers and vaporizers don’t experience gurgling and bubbling noises; just to a lesser degree. 

The reason ultrasonic humidifiers are more susceptible to producing gurgling and bubbling noises is due to the mechanism of the diffuser. 

These humidifiers use an ultrasonic diaphragm that vibrates very quickly in order to convert water to mist. It’s also the reason cool mist humidifiers usually make periodic gurgling and bubbling noises instead of doing so constantly, as with warm mist units. 

The effect is similar to how air bubbles rush to the top when you flip a bottle of water. Or if you’ve ever used a water dispenser at the office, you’ll be familiar with how air bubbles rise to the top as you dispense water and make that gurgling sound.

Generally speaking, modern humidifiers are designed to reduce the amount of noise coming from the unit, but the effect can still be pretty noticeable in cool mist humidifiers. 

Overboiling In Steam Humidifiers

Another common reason your humidifier might be making gurgling and bubbling noises is overboiling. This is only true for steam humidifiers that boil water in order to make steam that is then diffused into the air. 

Boiling water makes a bubbling noise, which anyone who has ever made a cup of tea will be familiar with. In warm mist humidifiers and vaporizers, this will come out as a constant, low burbling sound. 

Because it’s so low and goes on constantly, it’s not nearly as noticeable as the noise coming from cool mist humidifiers. 

You only really notice it when the water starts to overboil. This causes slightly louder, more apparent gurgling and bubbling noises.

So why is the water overboiling? Well, there are a couple different reasons for this. One possible reason is that there is too much salt in the water. You may even have added salt to the water yourself, since it does have some benefits. 

Adding salt to water reduces the boiling point, i.e. the temperature at which the water starts to boil. But in a humidifier that is working normally, this can cause the water to over boil and make the gurgling and bubbling noises. 

That doesn’t mean you can’t put salt in your humidifier. Just be sure you don’t overdo it, or the humidifier could start to make those noises. 

Using Hard Water In The Humidifier

Another common reason why humidifiers make gurgling and bubbling noises is because of the use of very hard water. 

If you aren’t familiar, hard water is water that has a very high mineral content. We don’t recommend using hard water in your humidifier at all, as it can lead to other problems and health concerns besides gurgling and bubbling noises. 

Again, if the water you are using for your humidifier is extremely rich in minerals, the impurities lower the boiling point of water and overboiling occurs. 

Water Moving From Tank To Nozzle In A Brand New Humidifier

This one might seem weird to a lot of folks. After all, a humidifier is designed to move water from the tank to the nozzle. So why does it cause bubbling and gurgling noises?

Well, this problem only really plagues brand new humidifiers that haven’t been used that much. It is just a consequence of things settling and the unit getting used to the type of water you are using. 

In fact, if you noticed gurgling and bubbling noises coming from your brand new humidifier, it might be a good idea to let it run continuously for a few hours. The noises should subside automatically after a while. 

Are The Gurgling And Bubbling Noises Bad For Your Humidifier

So now that we’ve talked about all the different reasons why a humidifier might be making the gurgling and bubbling noises, we should discuss the effect these have on your humidfier’s efficacy, performance, and longevity. 

When it comes to gurgling and bubbling noises caused by air rushing into the tank, we can say with confidence that it has no adverse effect on the performance of your humidifier. 

As for the case where water is being overboiled, it gets a little trickier. Steam humidifiers are designed with water tanks that can withstand higher temperatures. 

However, overboiling of water beyond what the unit can handle could cause damage to the sensitive internal components. This is actually quite rare, but still something to keep in mind when diagnosing gurgling and boiling noises in a humidifier. 

Next, if you use hard water in your humidifier and notice it making gurgling and bubbling noises, you might actually have a pretty serious problem on your hands. 

We always recommend against using hard water in a humidifier, as it can cause various issues with the performance of the unit and even decrease the longevity by a fair bit. 

Using mineral rich water in a humidifier can lead to mineral deposits in the water tank, the filter, or even the nozzle. This reduces mist volume, runtime, and also affects the lifespan of the unit. 

But even more concerning is the fact that mineral deposits can lead to the development of mold. If released into your home, this mold can cause various illnesses and health problems for your family and pets. 

How To Prevent Your Humidifier From Making Gurgling And Bubbling Noises

So now, the million dollar question: how do you prevent your humidifier from making gurgling and bubbling noises? 

Use Less Salt In Your Humidifier

We made a whole guide that focuses on putting salt in a humidifier, which you can check out here. 

But if you notice your humidifier making gurgling and bubbling noises, it might be due to the excess salt being added to the water tank. 

Consider using less salt than you do currently, reducing the frequency with which you put salt in the humidifier, or stop putting salt in the humidifier altogether. 

Avoid Using Hard Water 

Hard water isn’t just causing the gurgling and bubbling noises in your humidifier, but also leading to the development of mold and mineral deposits in the tank. 

That is why we urge people to not use hard water in their humidifiers, as there are just too many risks and drawbacks to doing so. 

Use Distilled Water 

The best type of water to use in a humidifier is distilled water. This is water made using the process of distillation. Distillation of water involves boiling it, collecting the steam, and condensing it back to liquid form.   

This process removes all the contaminants and irritants in the water, but also eliminates all the minerals, and heavy metals that could indirectly cause gurgling and bubbling in the humidifier. 

Fix Or Replace Damaged Components 

Finally, if all else fails, you might just have to fix faulty internal components in your humidifier. These might include a malfunctioning diffuser, a spent water filter, or some other part that is causing the gurgling and bubbling noises in your humidifier. 

If fixing the problem is not an option, you might even have to replace the part altogether. If so, we highly recommend getting parts directly from the manufacturer, or from a trusted third party that the manufacturer refers you to. 

This will ensure that the parts work as intended and don’t end up causing any more issues with your humidifier. 


So, to sum up, there are a couple different reasons for your humidifier making gurgling and bubbling noises. 

Often, it’s just a result of the brand new unit settling in, and these sounds should subside over time. 

Alternatively, the noises could be because of the type of water you are using in your unit, or maybe it’s some other substances such as salt. In that case, it’s important to address the issue early on to prevent more serious problems down the line.


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.