DIY Network

How to Maintain a Humidifier

These step-by-step instructions show how to clean and maintain a whole-house humidifier to prepare for the winter months.

More in Remodeling

clean and maintain a whole house humidifier
  • Time

    1 hour

  • Price Range

    $1 - $50

  • Difficulty



Step 1: Clean the Media Screen

Before opening the unit, locate the water shutoff, usually within reach, and make sure it is turned off. After the humidifier is unplugged the first thing to check is the media screen. The screen is what water drains across -- and it usually has a lot of mineral deposits. Use white vinegar and water to remove this buildup. If the media screen has as external housing, remove it before submerging in the vinegar bath, to make sure the solution gets into all the nooks and crannies. Let the screen soak to really loosen up the minerals. Most of the deposits will come off with a gentle rinse, but a toothbrush can be used to remove those stubborn deposits. It is a good idea to also give all the other parts of the assembly a scrubbing with the toothbrush. After a final rinse, reassemble the screen and housing and install it back into the humidifier.

Step 2: Clean the Fan and Pump

Evaporative humidifiers have fans that need cleaning, too. Wipe off the fan blades to remove dust or debris that might have collected. Clean off the intake vent for the fan before replacing the cover. Some humidifier systems have pumps to remove any excess water that flows through the humidifier. Clean the pumps by pouring a cup of vinegar solution into the system to clear out the drain line. Turn the water supply back on and check the humidistat. The humidistat functions by sensing the humidity that is in the room and will turn the humidifier on or off automatically as the humidity changes. If there is moisture on windows, walls or pictures, adjust the humidistat according to the manufacturer's instructions. Remember, the humidifier is used in the colder months. Be sure to turn it off when cold weather ends.