Diffuser Not Working? Try This

Diffusers are awesome contraptions. They spread wonderful scents around your home without the need for the open flame that candles need. This is a lifesaver for those of us with fuzzy houseguests like my cat who likes to knock anything and everything off of surfaces for no reason other than to establish dominance. But if your diffuser is not working, it can be a pain to troubleshoot. Luckily, DreamyHome is here with all of the advice you could possibly need.

If your diffuser is not working, check the water levels, that it’s plugged in, and test your power source. Keep reading for the rest you’ll need to know!

Now without further ado, let’s get into it, shall we?

Troubleshooting a Diffuser Not Working

There’s a lot that can go wrong with such a small device. We’ll start with the easy stuff, and move on in time to the more complicated stuff so you waste as little time as possible getting this sorted. First things first – what is it doing?

The Diffuser Doesn’t Work at All

Here’s what to look for if your diffuser won’t do anything:

  • Is there water in the bowl? If so, how much?
    • Diffusers need a particular amount of water to function. Too much and it will spill and cause it to not work, not enough and it won’t be able to do its thing.
  • Is it plugged in? Be honest here.
  • Have you tried switching outlets?
    • You may have an issue with your outlet. Try switching the outlet and/or adapter that you’re using and try again. If it works, you may need to have an electrician take a look at the outlet in question.
  • Are you using distilled water? Stop.
    • You can use tap water, spring water, or filtered water. Do not use distilled water.

Especially if you have too much water in the diffuser (or some spilt in with the oils), you’re going to need to clean it out. Unplug the unit, remove all of the water, and clean it out. The oil and remaining water will need to evaporate before you can use it again – this usually takes at least a day.

The Diffuser is Weak

You should begin by checking everything above, minus the power-related bits. Make sure it has (undistilled) water, ensure it’s filled to the proper level, and clean it out (see below to learn how). After that, if it’s still running weakly, try the following:

  • Make sure the airflow is unobstructed. While cleaning, remove any hair or dust from the air intake to ensure it’s got all of the air it needs.
  • Keep the diffuser on a hard and level surface. Soft surfaces like rags or blankets can prevent the diffuser from getting enough air to function properly.
  • Is the water sensor clean and unobstructed? If not, make it so.
  • If all else fails, perform a hard reset. In other words, you’re power cycling the device:
    • Turn it off.
    • Unplug it.
    • Let it sit for ~5 minutes.
    • Restart and retry.

The Diffuser is Too Hot (Or Its Water Is)

First things first – don’t run your diffuser 24/7. Like all electronics, it can and will heat up with time. Additionally, really, really hot water is a sign that you overfilled the diffuser. Refill it to the proper level – overfilling can cause water damage. To prevent overheating, do the following:

  • Check the above steps first – cleaning, keeping it on a level surface, and checking the air intake.
  • Turn off the diffuser and let it fully cool down, replacing the water. Often, if you run it for too long, the water will get very hot. This is normal.
  • Refill and restart the diffuser. If it’s still hot, there’s an issue with the heating element, and you should replace the device and/or contact your manufacturer.

Light is On, Diffuser Isn’t Working

Check all of the above. This includes cleaning, air intake check, and ensuring it’s on a hard and level surface. Also, try restarting the device with new water – including the power cycle. If that doesn’t work, you have a defective item.

Cleaning a Diffuser

Just as with all things in life, it’s super important that you regularly clean your diffuser. Isn’t adulthood fun! You get to clean everything, all of the time!

And make sure to read the instructions before cleaning, some models require special treatment. Here’s how to clean a diffuser properly:

  1. Fill your diffuser with tap water to roughly the halfway point. Do not fill it entirely.
  2. Add a dash of white vinegar to the water. This will help loosen the essential oils that are in the diffuser and make the cleaning process much easier.
  3. Run your diffuser for ~5 minutes. This will move the vinegar mixture throughout the diffuser, cleaning the bits you can’t reach easily.
  4. Drain it.
  5. Dip a cotton swab in more vinegar and throurougly clean every bit you can reach.
  6. Rinse the diffuser with tap water.
  7. Run the diffuser again with just water to remove any lingering vinegar smell.
  8. Dry out the diffuser with a cloth or cotton swab – be careful not to leave fibres inside if you’re using a cloth.

Final Thoughts

Maintaining diffusers is a surprisingly involved task. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised, as it is oil that we’re using to make the house smell lovely, but I am nonetheless. Perhaps the most important tip I can give you is that it’s vital that you clean your diffuser between every use. Yes, it seems excessive; yes, it’s a pain; and yes, if you don’t, you will end up with a damaged diffuser.

Beyond that, if you notice it’s acting strangely, go through the above steps. Clean it first, check that the diffuser is on a hard, level surface, and switch plugins. And never, ever use distilled water. This is because distilled water has had the minerals removed, making it harder for your water to vaporize and diffuse the essential oils inside. It won’t actively damage your diffuser, but it will make it work much less efficiently.

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About the Author Harry Thompson

Involved in home renovations throughout his life, Harry is an expert in everything to do with home and garden DIY. In his spare time, he enjoys cooking and tending to his garden.