Excessive Mineral deposits clogging humidifier?

I'm having a problem with what I can only assume are mineral deposits. I usually run my warm mist humidifier in the winter and clean the heating elements about once per month with vinegar. I've never really had any issues with mineral deposits.
Yesterday I cleaned the heating elements with vinegar and ran the humidifier for maybe four to eight hours. I noticed it wasn't producing much steam despite being set to high. When I looked at the heating element it looked as if it was covered in wet sugar. I assume those are mineral deposits, except that I've never seen mineral deposits that look like that.
Any ideas as to what this problem is? I don't know if it's not producing steam because there are too many minerals or because there aren't enough. I don't know what the wet sugar like stuff is covering the heating element. Is there something I could add to the water in the humidifier tank? Interestingly, I have a 20 y/o vaporizer that says to add baking soda if the mineral content is low and a four y/o vaporizer that says to add salt if the mineral content is low. It seems like salt should be added if the mineral content is high since salt pellets are added to a water conditioner if the mineral content is high.
I do have hard water and use a water conditioner. I'm not the one who is in charge of taking care of the water conditioner so I don't know if the salt pellets were added this month. It would be a few days before I could find out.
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On Mon, 8 Dec 2008 22:54:27 -0800 (PST), "Mike S."
I am not sure about your current problem, but the water softener does not really help you in this situation. Water is softened by this kind of softener, not by removing the minerals, but by changing them. Once changed they don't give the feel of hard water and don't prevent soaps from doing what they should, but those deposits will still be there unless you move to distilled water(filtered water is not the same thing) or clean your own using an osmosis system.
Are the deposits you are seeing now new or might they have built up over a long time?
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

As it turns out no one had been putting the salt pellets in the water softener. Salt pellets have been added and now my humidifier is working properly again.
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fill humidifier with white vinegar, let sit half hour run half hour, turn off empty and cool, then rinse entire unit repeatedly.
then run a normal cycle, perhaps sit it outdoors, if t still smells like vinegar.......
its sluged up from hard water deposits, your softener isnt working properly
my old whole house humidifier would do this, looked like cave deposits.
vinegar is mild acid, deposits in humidifier basic and will remove them
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The reason vaporizer manufacturers tell you to add some salt to the water if it doesn't vaporize is to increase the conductivity of the water. The cheap, simple vaporizers rely on passing current between two metal electrodes to heat the water. If you have water that is too pure, then the resistance is so high it won't conduct well.
I don't know exactly what kind of humidifier you have, but if it worked before, clearly the water being used isn't the issue.
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If you plan a scientific approach to this, you need first to identiify the dissolved minerals in your water supply that precipitate (become solid) in your humidifier. Calcium is most likely, but is found in several different varieties, which react differently to other chemicals. Generally it is uneconomic to remove dissolved minerals at the source. "Water conditioners" alter their chemistry so that the water will do what you want (e.g. laundry.)
--
Don Phillipson
Carlsbad Springs
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the only answer I know is to open the humidifer and actually scrape off the minerals... I have to do this once or twice a heating season. My humidifer is the electrode type, two electrodes are immersed in the water and they pass the AC current directly through the water. The electrodes eventually get caked with minerals and you have to physically scrape and break the deposits off. Adding a little salt to the water will keep it going for a while.
CAUTION
DO NOT PLUG IN THE HUMIDIFER WHILE THE ELECTRODES ARE EXPOSED!!
The electrodes are electrified...
Mark
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