Vaping has gotten easier and easier over the years, but the technology behind it still isn't perfect. From time to time, everyone's setup malfunctions. Be it leaking, dry hits, or just a complete lack of flavor, it can often feel like getting the perfect vape is impossible.
In this guide, I'll take you through some of the most common issues faced by vapers, and how to avoid them.
A leaky atomizer is probably the most common issue that vapers face. There's nothing worse than reaching into your pocket or bag for your mod, and discovering that eJuice has leaked out of your tank and gotten all over the place. How can this keep happening? Well, there are a few things to check to make sure that your vape doesn't leak again.
If you're using a rebuildable dripping atomizer (RDA or dripper) or a genesis style atomizer (genny), they will pretty much leak as a part of their design. There are methods to minimize leakage, but I would suggest that users of these types of atomizers simply keep their setups upright.
When using an RDA, it can be helpful to only stow your setup away once there is no eJuice sitting on the deck ready to leak out. Simply vape to the point where you would normally re-drip, and there won't be any extra eJuice to leak out of the sides. If your setup is left on its side for a considerable amount of time, a minimal amount of eJuice may ooze out of the wick(s) and leak, but it should be safe enough for a reasonable stay in a pocket.
If your RDA is leaking during normal use, or if every time you remove your RDA from your mod you find a puddle of eJuice sitting on the 510, you may want to make sure that all o-rings are intact, and that all fasteners (if applicable) are suitably tight.
I once had persistent leaking issues with an RDA that were only solved when I discovered that the insulator was cracked, and eJuice was trickling through that crack from the build deck onto my mod.
Those of you using genesis atomizers likely already know how finicky they can be, and every genny acts slightly differently. Advanced genesis designs such as those from VapeWare Mods and Athea are more resistant to leaking than old-school gennies such as the Kraken or Zenesis atomizers, but generally should not be laid on their sides or put into a pocket without some risk of leaking.
Rebuildable tank atomizers (RTAs) can leak seemingly randomly. You just built your new RTA, and it's been vaping great all night. Thinking all is well, you proudly leave your setup on your desk for tomorrow. Come morning, you find that all the eJuice has dumped out of then tank and onto your mod and desk. What happened?
Well, let's talk about vacuum. Almost all RTAs function with a vacuum system, which when working properly will draw more eJuice into your wicks as you take a pull. When this vacuum system isn't working right, bad things will happen. This vacuum system exists to defeat gravity, and all the parts involved need to be working perfectly for a great vaping experience.
With tanks, you have a reservoir of eJuice sitting on top of a coil, and that eJuice needs to feed into the wicking material surrounding this coil, but no further. If the juice doesn't get into that wicking material properly, you'll get a dry hit. If it moves too freely, you get gurgling and leaking.
If the wick is packed too tight, your eJuice may have trouble getting all nicely saturated. If it's too loose, it'll get right through that barrier and dump out of the airflow holes. I've found that a safe method of wicking most RTAs is for the wick to be loose enough so that it can be pulled through the coil (or coils) with only some resistance. If pulling your wick through is causing the coils to move, you're using too much wick. If the wick is so loose that it is not visibly not making good contact with the wire throughout the coil, you're using too little.
It can take some trial and error to really nail wicking an atomizer, but it'll definitely pay off in the end.
Another thing that can break the vacuum in a tank and cause leaking is bad gaskets or o-rings. A break in a seal, even a tiny one, can cause huge headaches. Think of it like holding liquid in a straw. If you've made a perfect seal at the top of the straw, all of the liquid will stay inside. If there's a small hole in the straw, or if your finger isn't keeping constant pressure, the liquid will leak out. If you're having consistent leaking issues in an RTA and your build seems perfect, check every single gasket. Even a small nick in an o-ring can cause issues.
The biggest headache I have ever experienced with an RTA was when I purchased a used Kayfun Mini V3. On first inspection, everything seemed perfect. I wrapped a simple coil and wicked it just as I have wicked prior Kayfuns, and all seemed well for the first few puffs. Then it started leaking. I re-wicked it, it seemed fine, then it leaked again. For weeks I kept trying and trying, I must have rebuilt that atomizer 30 times. I completely disassembled it several times, all of the parts seemed fine. The culprit? A small nick in one of the o-rings. I replaced this o-ring and all of the issues vanished.
This advice regarding o-rings and gaskets also applies to clearomizers and sub-ohm tanks. Beyond making sure that everything is properly tightened, o-rings and gaskets can be a common cause of leaky tanks. Keep the 'liquid in a straw' analogy in mind when troubleshooting. If your tank is leaking, there's most likely something wrong with the vacuum.
Another sadly common cause of leaking in clearomizers and sub-ohm tanks is defective coil heads. Disposable coil heads are made in mass quantities, and are not individually inspected for quality. Sometimes, the wick is packed too tightly or loosely. There could be a random defect in the cotton, or even the coil itself.
In general, if 80% of the coils in a pack work as advertised, I'm satisfied. Some brands fare slightly better than others, but the finicky nature of coils makes it difficult to guarantee that they'll all work flawlessly. Sometimes, you may encounter a mysterious wonder-coil that functions beautifully for weeks and weeks. Just as often, you'll encounter a stinker full of hot spots that will immediately scorch the wick and be useless.
After leaking, the most common issue people face when vaping is a dry hit.
Dry hits are the worst. You'll hit your atomizer expecting a nice, flavorful inhale when you're suddenly struck with a rank, burning taste that is likely to make you cough.
My personal solution to dry hits is to not use eJuice that is very heavy on vegetable glycerin, or VG. VG thickens juice, which causes it to not wick as easily as thinner juice. Think molasses versus water. This won't work for everyone, as the smoothness of VG can be very appealing. Also, some people can be sensitive or allergic to propylene glycol (PG), ruling out this option. I try to stick with 70/30 eJuices such as those from Teleos, as that ratio just tends to work well in every atomizer.
In an RDA, dry hits are most often caused by not re-dripping eJuice onto your coil (or coils). There are telltale signs before a dry hit, such as reduced flavor or a reduced throat hit. Experienced RDA users can recognize these signs and will re-drip at the appropriate time. Alternatively, take a look at your wick every few hits. If things are looking dry, re-drip.
Poor wicking can also cause dry hits in an RDA (or RTA). If your wick is loose and is not making good contact with a coil, those spots will eventually get 'cooked' by the heat of the coil and will scorch and cause a burnt taste.
Dry hits in a genesis atomizer are arguably worse than those in atomizers that use cotton as a wicking material. A stainless steel mesh dry hit is not one that you'll easily forget. Dry hits in gennies are usually caused by a hot spot in a coil, which can usually be 'worked out' by prodding the area with a small screwdriver or pair of tweezers.
If your coil is heating up evenly without hot spots and you're still getting dry hits, make sure that your mesh wick is tight against the coil. Gaps will cause dry hits just the same as in an RDA. If you're hot spot free and your wick is tight, it's also possible that your mesh is the wrong grade for the eJuice you're using, or that the mesh is too long or short for that specific atomizer.
In a clearomizer or sub-ohm tank, dry hits can sometimes simply be caused by using too much power. Check the suggested wattage for the coil you're using, and ensure that you're within that range. If you're still getting a dry taste, try turning the power down further. If you've exhausted all troubleshooting steps, it could be possible that the coil you're using is a dud.
Some of the same principles behind troubleshooting leaking can also be applied to dry hits. Just take a step back and think about how your setup should be working, and see if you can determine which step in the ejuice->wick->heat->vapor process something is going wrong.
The last issue I'll be going over is the dreaded vaper's tongue.
Vaper's tongue is an issue that has been occurring since the dawn of vaping. You found that perfect flavor and have been vaping it for days, possibly even weeks or months, when suddenly you're just not tasting much of anything at all.
Vaper's tongue refers to flavor fatigue, an issue found in all things related to taste or scent.
Imagine that a friend of yours has just started using a new perfume or cologne. Initially, you notice that scent right away. You can smell them coming from around the corner, or you know that they've just been in a room. As time goes by, the aroma doesn't affect you as much. Eventually, you barely notice it at all.
Your olfactory senses have become used to that scent and have decided not to bother your brain as much when they detect it.
The best way to avoid this is to switch up your flavors on a regular basis. It can be annoying not being able to stick with your go-to eJuice on an extended basis, but sometimes taking a break and returning to that flavor can be worth the hassle.
Sweeter flavors can be more fatiguing, some of the more subtle flavors can be more acceptable to your olfactory system for long periods of time.
Other solutions include drinking more water, trying a different atomizer, or blasting your olfactory system with something powerful like lemon juice or vinegar.
I hope that these tips have been helpful to the trouble-plagued vapers out there. Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful day!