Updated: September 2021
Since we first wrote this post, technology has moved forward a lot.
If you have a quality tank or pod system, you’re far less likely to encounter a problem with flooding.
However, it can and does still happen. Fortunately, it’s usually not hard to solve the issue.
In this post, we’ll look at the signs of a flooded coil, what causes it, how to prevent it and 7 ways to fix it.
- What is a flooded coil?
- How do you know your coil is flooded?
- What causes a flooded coil - and how to prevent it
- How to clear a flooded coil
- How to fix a flooded pod
- Flood-resistant vapes
- Coils don’t last forever
Flooding occurs when the coil becomes oversaturated with e-liquid.When this happens, the coil can no longer absorb and heat up more e-liquid. When you draw, the airflow brings up e-liquid leading to that bubbling and gurgling sound. Some e-liquid may be vaporized, but this will leave you with a wispy, unsatisfying vape.
- A gurgling or bubbling noise when you inhale
- Little or no vapour
- A decrease in flavour
1. Incorrect draw.
Drawing too hard on some devices can lead to flooding, as the coil becomes over saturated.
Solution: Depending on the device you use, you may need to adjust your inhaling technique. Vaping requires a longer, slower draw than a cigarette. See our guide to inhaling for more info.
2. Not replacing coils.
As coils age, they can lose their ability to absorb e-liquid.
Solution: Coils vary significantly in how long they last. This depends on things like the wattage and e-liquid you use, as well as the coil design and resistance. For example, some low resistance coils, used at high wattages, may only last a few days. Some higher resistance coils, when used at low wattages, can last for weeks.
As a rule of thumb, replace your coils as soon as flavour or vapour starts to deteriorate.
3. A faulty coil.
Nowadays, coils from quality manufacturers are generally very reliable. Most problems are caused by user errors (such as not priming the coil, or using the wrong e-liquid or wattage settings).
But faulty coils can still occur, and these can cause flooding. If you’ve followed all the steps correctly and still get flooding, this is a good sign that you have a faulty coil.
Solution: Replace the coil.
4. Using too low a power level for your coil.
When you do this, the coil is not receiving enough power to properly vapourise the e-liquid.
Solution: If provided, follow the recommended wattage guidelines. You can usually find these on the coil itself, on the manual and on retailers’ websites.
5. Filling your tank incorrectly.
Vape tanks and pods usually have a centre tube. Getting e-liquid in these can cause the device to flood.
Solution: When filling a tank with an open center tube, ensure that the e-liquid goes down the side of the tank, and not down the centre tube. Also, be sure not to overfill the device.
Handily, since this post was written, most devices are now much easier to fill and have less room for error. Many have a filling port which makes the process foolproof. (See below for some recommendations.)
6. Damaged o-rings.
If o-rings are damaged or slip out of position it can cause flooding.
Solution: This can be hard to prevent, but do take care not to shift o-rings when changing coils. Again, modern devices with push-pull coils rarely suffer from this problem.
Large coils need careful priming. One way to ensure that enough e-liquid saturates the cotton is to inhale without pressing the fire button.
You can overdo this, though. That’s especially the case with higher resistance MTL tanks. These use high PG e-liquid and have less wicking to absorb e-liquid. If you draw on these without pressing the fire button, you may flood the coil.
Solution: It’s important to keep priming your coils. However, limit dry inhales to low resistance coils with larger coil ports.
8. Loose tank.
When you put your tank together, it needs to form a vacuum in order to work effectively. If you fail to tighten it enough, it can cause flooding.
Solution: Ensure that tanks are closed finger tight - but don’t over do it.
9. Air-pressure change.
When you fly, the change in the air pressure can cause your tank to leak, leading to flooding issues.
Solution: Empty your tank before boarding a plane.
There are numerous ways to clear a coil, but we are sticking to the simplest ways here.
1. Flick the device to remove excess e-liquid from it.
2. Blow through the tank in order to clear e-liquid from it. If this doesn’t work, remove the tank from your device and the coil from your tank, and blow through the coil to clear some of the e-liquid out. (One of our readers sucks the e-liquid out with a baby aspirator. (Presumably her children now no longer require the aspirator!))
3. Remove the coil and leave it to dry on some tissue paper. At the same time, turn your tank upside down and leave it to drain.
4. Fire up the device without inhaling (but don’t overdo it). This can sometimes burn off the excess e-liquid.
5. With some devices, you can remove the tank leaving the coil attached to the battery.
If this is the case with your device (and the previous step didn’t work) remove your tank, fire up the device and burn off the excess e-liquid. (But be careful not to burn out the coil.)
6. Replace the o-rings. Many tanks now come with replacement o-rings. If other methods fail, it’s worth checking these and replacing them if they are damaged.
(Many devices and kits come with spare o-rings, so don’t automatically throw away the packaging when unboxing.)
7. Remove the tank and clean with hot (but not boiling) water. Once you have done this, it’s important to ensure your coil is completely dry before using again.
For even more methods see 15 Easy Ways to Stop Your Tank From Leaking.
If you have a removable coil with your pod, the steps are exactly the same as for a tank.
Some pods come with fixed coils, though. With these devices, you can still try flicking them to remove the excess e-liquid. If that doesn‘t work, it’s worth emptying the e-liquid and allowing the pod to drain.
If neither of those steps work, you’ll probably need to replace your pod.
If you have a persistent problem with flooding, it may well be worth changing the tank you use. Many modern tanks are designed to minimise the chances of flooding.
For example, the Innokin Zenith D22 and Zenith 2 are easy-to-use tanks which automatically cut off internal airflow when you fill your tank to reduce the risk of flooding.
Meanwhile, the Vaporesso Luxe X uses two-level technology to minimise chances of flooding: e-liquid self-circulation and triple silicone rings.
The e-liquid self-circulation technology is particularly interesting. There is a ‘recycling tank’ at the bottom of the pod system which captures excess e-liquid and puts it back into use.
The Luxe PM40 also utilises internal cotton winding, which ensures that the cotton is neither too tight nor too loose. This helps the cotton absorb the e-liquid and ensures the e-liquid does not flow too quickly.
Simply put, vape coils don’t last forever. Sooner or later your coil will start to deteriorate, leading to issues like flooding.
Signs of a deteriorating coil can include:
- a decreasing amount of vapour
- strange or burnt taste
- just not working!
Fortunately, most devices come with replaceable coils now. To extend the life of these as long as possible, always prime the coil first (ensuring that the cotton in the coil is saturated before you vape it), while remembering not to overdo it. When vaping, always ensure that the coil is covered in e-liquid to ensure it doesn’t dry out and burn.