Is Your Oil Diffuser Not Working? 7 Common Issues You May Face

Is Your Oil Diffuser Not Working? 7 Common Issues

Are you having trouble getting your fragrance oil diffuser machine to work properly? Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

Broken oil diffusers are a common issue that many people face. But before you toss it out and buy a new one, it’s important to identify the problem first. Check if the container breaks or leaks as it may cause the machine to malfunction.

There are several ways why an oil diffuser machine may stop working, from clogged air vents to malfunctioning electronic components. Regular maintenance can prevent some of these issues from occurring in the first place.

Additionally, reed diffusers are a great alternative for those who prefer a more natural fragrance.

By the end of this guide, you’ll be able to troubleshoot and resolve most issues with your oil diffuser and reed diffusers without having to spend money on a replacement.

Whether it’s a problem with the fragrance, air vent opening, or simply using plain water, we’ve got you covered.

So let’s get started!

Is Your Oil Diffuser Not Working? 7 Common Issues

Oil diffusers devices are easy to use and can be found in many homes, offices, and spas. However, like any other electronic appliance or device, oil diffusers may encounter problems that prevent them from functioning correctly.

If you want to add some extra flair to your diffuser, consider using reeds to help distribute the fragrance throughout the room. It’s an easy way to enhance the look of your diffuser while also improving its effectiveness.

Here are some of the reasons your oil diffuser is not working properly.

Power Issues:

Check if the Unit is Overloaded

One of the most common reasons why an oil diffuser or reed diffusers may not work is because it is overloaded with fragrance. An overloaded unit may cause the motor to stop working or even burn out completely.

If you have been using your oil diffuser or reed diffusers for an extended period without cleaning it, then it’s possible that it has accumulated too much residue on its base, fan blades, or reeds.

To fix this issue with your oil diffuser, turn off the device and unplug it from its power source. Remove any excess oils from the base and fan blades using a soft cloth or cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol.

If you’re using fragrance reeds, make sure to remove them before cleaning. Once you have cleaned the unit thoroughly, plug it back into its power source and turn it on again.

Ensure the Switch is Plugged in and Functioning Properly

Another reason why your oil diffuser may not be working could be due to a faulty switch. A switch that isn’t plugged in correctly or one that doesn’t function properly can prevent your diffuser from turning on.

If you are using fragrance reeds, make sure they are properly inserted into the diffuser to ensure optimal scent diffusion.

To fix this issue with your reed or essential oil diffuser, check if your switch is plugged in correctly by unplugging it from its outlet and plugging it back in again firmly.

You can also test the switch by using a multimeter tool to ensure that there is continuity between its terminals when turned on. If you are experiencing issues with a broken oil diffuser, ensure that the switch is properly connected before troubleshooting further.

Replace a Faulty Switch

If you have tested your switch with a multimeter tool and discovered that there is no continuity between its terminals, then it’s time to replace the switch.

You can purchase a replacement switch from any hardware store or online retailer. This also applies to broken oil diffusers or reed diffusers that may need replacement parts.

Essential oil diffusers can sometimes require new reeds to function properly as well.

To replace the switch on your fragrance oil diffuser or essential oil diffuser, turn off the device and unplug it from its power source. Remove the old switch by unscrewing it from the base and disconnecting any wires connected to it.

If your diffuser uses reeds, carefully remove them before proceeding. Install the new switch by connecting any wires to their respective terminals and screwing it back onto the base. If you use reeds, make sure to insert them back into the diffuser after replacing the switch.

Check Your Power Source

If you have tried all of the above steps and your oil diffuser is still not working, check if there is an issue with your power source. Ensure that your outlet is functioning correctly by plugging in another appliance or device into it.

Also, make sure that your fragrance is properly mixed with water and the reeds are placed correctly in the diffuser.

You may also need to check if your fragrance oil diffuser’s cord is damaged or frayed as this could prevent it from receiving power. If you find that your cord is damaged, then you must purchase a replacement cord for your device.

Additionally, ensure that the reeds in your diffuser are properly soaked in the fragrance oil to ensure optimal diffusion.

Water Level and Temperature:

One of the most common issues with oil diffusers is that they fail to work properly due to low water levels or high temperatures. Another possible problem could be clogged reeds, which can prevent proper diffusion of the oil.

Here are some talking points that can help you troubleshoot these issues:

Verify water level is sufficient for operation

Before you start using your oil diffuser, make sure that it has enough water in it. Most diffusers come with a fill line or a reservoir that indicates the maximum level of water you can add to it.

If you do not put enough water in the diffuser, it may not be able to produce enough vapor to diffuse the essential oils. Also, if you are using reeds, make sure they are properly placed in the diffuser to allow for optimal diffusion.

If you’re using a reed diffuser with essential oil, make sure that there is enough moisture on the reeds so that they can absorb and release the fragrance effectively.

Avoid using hot water in your diffuser

Using hot water in your oil diffuser can cause damage to its internal parts and reduce its lifespan. Hot water can also evaporate too quickly, causing your diffuser to run dry much faster than usual.

However, using reeds in your oil diffuser can enhance the diffusion of the essential oils and provide a longer-lasting aroma.

It’s best to use plain room temperature tap water when filling up your oil diffuser with reed sticks. If you have hard water in your area, consider using distilled or purified water instead as minerals from hard water can accumulate over time and clog up air vent openings.

Keep the diffuser away from direct sunlight or heat sources

Placing your oil diffuser near direct sunlight or heat sources like radiators or heaters can cause it to overheat and stop working properly. The heat generated by these sources will also cause more evaporation than normal, which means that your oil will run out more quickly.

Reed diffusers are a great alternative for those who want to avoid the risks associated with heat sources.

Make sure that you place your oil diffuser with reed sticks on a stable surface away from any sources of heat or direct sunlight. This will ensure that it works optimally for longer periods.

Check for any leaks

Make sure there are no leaks in the reservoir of your oil diffuser with reed sticks as this could cause it to stop working. If you notice any leaks, turn off the diffuser and unplug it from the power outlet immediately.

Clean your oil diffuser regularly

Cleaning your oil diffuser and reed regularly is essential to keep it working optimally. Residues from essential oils can build up over time, clogging air vent openings and reducing the surface area available for diffusion through the reed.

This can cause your diffuser to produce less vapor or stop working altogether.

To clean your oil diffuser, follow these steps:

  1. Unplug the fragrance oil or essential oil diffuser from the power outlet and empty any remaining water.
  2. Use a soft cloth or sponge to wipe down the inside of the reservoir of your essential oil diffuser or fragrance oil diffuser. In case of a broken oil diffuser, this step is still applicable for reed diffusers.
  3. Add a few drops of white vinegar or rubbing alcohol to a small amount of water and use this solution to clean any stubborn residue from your essential oil diffuser, reed diffuser, or fragrance oil.
  4. Rinse the reservoir of your reed diffuser, essential oil diffuser, or fragrance oil thoroughly with plain water and let it dry completely before using it again.

By following these simple tips, you can ensure that your oil diffuser works optimally for longer periods, saving you money in repairs or replacements in the long run.

Here is a video tutorial on how to fix a doTerra diffuser that stopped working.

Reed Issues:

If you’ve been using an oil diffuser for a while, you may have encountered issues with the reeds. Here are some common reasons why your oil diffuser may not be working and how to solve them.

Short Reeds

One of the most common issues with reeds is that they may not reach the oil. This can happen if you’re using a jar that’s too large or if the opening of the jar is too wide. To fix this issue, try using a smaller jar or placing something at the bottom of the jar to create an uneven surface.

This will help ensure that all of the reeds are touching the oil.

Debris on Reeds

Another reason your reeds may not be working properly is that they’re clogged with debris. Over time, dust and other particles can accumulate on the reeds, preventing them from absorbing enough oil to diffuse into your room.

To clean your reeds, simply remove them from the carrier and use a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol to gently wipe away any debris.

Old or Damaged Reeds

Reed diffusers infused with fragrance oil don’t last forever, and over time, your reeds may become old or damaged. If you notice that your diffuser isn’t spreading the scent as well as it used to, it might be time to replace your old or damaged reeds with new ones.

Uneven Diffusion

If you find that some of your reeds are diffusing more strongly than others, there could be a few reasons for this issue. First, make sure that all of your reeds are evenly spaced in the carrier so that each one has equal access to the air around it.

You can also try flipping your reeds over every few days to ensure even diffusion of fragrance oil.

Carrier Issues

Sometimes, carrier issues can cause problems with how well your diffuser works. If you’re using a carrier made from a material that doesn’t absorb oil well, like plastic or metal, you may need to switch to a different carrier.

Glass is often the best option for reed diffusers because it’s non-reactive and absorbs oil well.

Air Flow Issues

Finally, if your fragrance oil diffuser has poor air flow, this could be impacting how well your fragrance oil diffuser works. Try moving your fragrance oil diffuser to a more open area of the room or using a fan to circulate air around the space.

Ultrasonic Plate/Chip:

If your oil diffuser is not working, one of the common issues could be a dirty ultrasonic plate or chip. The ultrasonic plate or chip is responsible for creating the vibrations that break down the essential oils into a fine mist. Over time, it can become clogged with buildup and affect the performance of your diffuser.

To avoid this issue with your reed diffuser, it’s important to clean the ultrasonic plate or chip regularly.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when cleaning:

Clean regularly

Cleaning your ultrasonic plate or chip should be part of your regular maintenance routine. How often you need to clean it will depend on how frequently you use your diffuser. As a general rule, aim to clean it every 2-4 weeks.

Avoid harsh chemicals

When cleaning the ultrasonic plate or chip for your reed diffuser, avoid using harsh chemicals that can damage the surface. Instead, use a gentle cleaner like white vinegar or rubbing alcohol.

Follow manufacturer’s instructions

Different diffusers may have slightly different cleaning instructions, so it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for cleaning. You can usually find this information in the user manual that came with your diffuser.

Wipe gently

To clean the ultrasonic plate or chip, start by turning off and unplugging your diffuser. Then remove any excess water from the tank and wipe down the surface of the ultrasonic plate or chip with a soft cloth dampened with your chosen cleaner.

Be sure to wipe gently and avoid scrubbing too hard as this can cause damage.

In addition to regular cleaning, there are some other things you can do to prevent buildup on your ultrasonic plate or chip. One of them is to avoid placing your reed diffuser near the device.

  • Use distilled water instead of tap water
  • Use high-quality essential oils that don’t contain fillers
  • Don’t overfill your diffuser beyond its maximum capacity
  • Empty any leftover water from previous uses in your reed diffuser before adding new water and oils.

Cleaning Steps:

Keeping your essential oil diffuser clean is crucial for ensuring it works effectively and lasts a long time. Here are some steps to follow when cleaning your diffuser:

Unplug and empty the diffuser before cleaning

Before you start cleaning, make sure your diffuser is unplugged and that there’s no water or oil left inside. This will prevent any accidents from happening while you’re cleaning.

Wipe down all surfaces with a soft cloth

Use a soft cloth to wipe down the inside and outside of the diffuser. You can use warm water or rubbing alcohol to help remove any stubborn residue. Be careful not to scratch or damage the surface of the diffuser.

Clean hard-to-reach areas with cotton swabs

For hard-to-reach areas like the corners or small crevices, use cotton swabs dipped in rubbing alcohol to gently scrub away any dirt or grime. This will ensure that every part of the diffuser is cleaned thoroughly.

Use vinegar for tough buildup

If you have tough buildup on your essential oil diffuser, try using vinegar instead of rubbing alcohol. Mix equal parts water and white vinegar in a bowl, then dip a soft cloth into the mixture and use it to wipe down all surfaces of the diffuser. The acidity of the vinegar helps break down any buildup, leaving your diffuser looking like new.

Rinse thoroughly

After cleaning your essential oil diffuser, rinse it thoroughly with warm water to remove any remaining residue or cleaning solution. Make sure that you dry it completely before using it again.

Clean regularly

To keep your essential oil diffusers working properly, make sure you clean them regularly – ideally after every use if possible! This will prevent any buildup from occurring and ensure that they continue working effectively for years to come.

Avoid using fragrance oils

While fragrance oils may seem like an easy alternative to essential oils, they can actually cause damage to your diffuser over time. Fragrance oils are often made with synthetic ingredients that can clog or corrode the diffuser, leading to malfunction or even permanent damage.

Misting Issues:

If your oil diffuser is not producing mist, it can be frustrating. However, there are a few things you can do to troubleshoot the problem.

Make sure there is enough water in the tank

One of the most common reasons for misting issues in an oil diffuser is that there isn’t enough water in the tank. If the water level is too low, the ultrasonic plate/chip won’t be able to create enough vibrations to produce mist.

To fix this issue with your reed diffuser, simply add more scented oil to the vase until it reaches the fill line. Be careful not to overfill it as this can also cause problems.

Try adjusting mist settings on your device

Another reason why your oil diffuser may not be producing mist could be that you need to adjust its mist settings. Some devices have different levels of intensity.

If you’re unsure how to adjust these settings, refer back to your user manual or contact customer service for assistance.

Clean any buildup on ultrasonic plate/chip

Over time, mineral deposits and other buildup can accumulate on an oil diffuser’s ultrasonic plate/chip. This buildup can prevent proper vibrations from occurring and result in no mist being produced.

To clean your device’s ultrasonic plate/chip, follow these steps:

  1. Unplug your diffuser from its power source.
  2. Remove any excess water from the tank.
  3. Use a soft-bristled brush or cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol or vinegar solution (50/50 mix with water) and gently scrub away any buildup on the ultrasonic plate/chip.
  4. Rinse off with warm water and dry thoroughly before using again.

By following these simple steps, you should be able to solve most of your oil diffuser’s misting issues quickly and easily.

Other possible reasons why an oil diffuser may not produce mist include clogged air vents, a damaged ultrasonic plate/chip, and faulty wiring. If you’ve tried all of the above steps and are still experiencing issues with your device, it may be time to contact customer service or consider purchasing a new diffuser altogether.


In conclusion, if your oil diffuser is not working, there are several common issues that you can troubleshoot. Power issues, water level and temperature, reed issues, ultrasonic plate/chip, cleaning steps, and misting issues are all potential culprits.

By identifying the problem and taking the necessary steps to fix it, you can enjoy the benefits of a fully functioning oil diffuser.

To ensure that your oil diffuser continues to work properly, be sure to clean it regularly and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use. If you continue to experience issues despite troubleshooting efforts, consider contacting customer support for further assistance.


How often should I clean my oil diffuser?

It is recommended to clean your oil diffuser after every use or at least once a week if used frequently.

Can I use tap water in my oil diffuser?

It is recommended to use distilled or purified water in your oil diffuser to prevent mineral buildup and prolong its lifespan.

Why isn’t my oil diffuser producing mist?

This could be due to a variety of reasons such as low water levels, clogged ultrasonic plate/chip or reeds, or power issues. Refer to the troubleshooting section for more information on how to address this issue.

Can I mix different essential oils in my oil diffuser?

Yes, you can mix different essential oils in your oil diffuser. However, be sure to follow recommended dilution ratios and avoid mixing incompatible oils.

How long does an average oil diffuser last?

The lifespan of an oil diffuser can vary depending on usage and maintenance. On average, a well-maintained oil diffuser can last up to 3-5 years.

What size room can an average-sized oil diffuser cover?

An average-sized oil diffuser can cover a room up to 300-500 square feet. For larger rooms, consider using multiple diffusers or a larger model.

Can I leave my oil diffuser on overnight?

It is not recommended to leave your oil diffuser on overnight or unattended for extended periods of time. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use and safety guidelines.