Updated: March 2021
Vape shops do a lot more than just sell.
For many vapers, vape stores are their first port of call when they have a problem. The enthusiasts in these shops are often experts in diagnosing and fixing problems with vape devices – and this expertise can be essential in helping new vapers switch from smoking to vaping.
However, not everyone has the time to get to a vape shop. So we've put together this vape troubleshooting guide to help you resolve your issues, stay off cigarettes and carry on vaping.
- Not getting enough of a nicotine hit
- Not getting enough of a throat hit
- Not getting enough vapour
- Battery not working
- Leaking tank
- Getting a burnt taste
- Not tasting the vape juice
- Getting a dry/sore throat
- Gurgling noises
- Vape charger not working
- Coughing when vaping
- No atomizer message
- My screen is blank
- My vape juice has turned dark
- Not enough flavour
i. Using too low a nicotine strength
Many vape devices deliver nicotine more slowly than cigarettes.
Because of this, you may need a higher level of nicotine in your vape juice to get the same effect as a cigarette, so try switching to a higher strength.
Do note that strength is usually marked as either mg (e.g. 1.8 mg) or percent (1.8%).
Learn more: Nicotine & E-Liquid: What strength do you need?
ii. Using a low-powered vape battery
The type of device you are using can make a big difference to the nicotine hit you get. For example, if you are using an old-style clearomiser with an EGO battery or even a modern disposable vape, you can expect both less nicotine and less flavour than you would get with a modern tank or pod system.
If you’re using a basic tank, a good step up is the Aspire PockeX. While not the newest kit on the market, this incredibly popular all-in-one device provides a super vape and throat hit, and remains popular with both our customers and staff.
If you want something with a bit more oomph, you might want to try out the Smok Nord 2. This produces up to 40 watts of power and the 0.8Ω coil option is ideal for high strength e-liquids.
At the other end of the scale (albeit suitable for more experienced users!), the VooPoo Drag 3 provides 120 watts of power and offers a superb vape. This device is more suited to high VG e-liquid (such as those with a VG:PG ratio of 70:30) and will provide enough vapour that you will almost certainly need to decrease your nicotine strength.
iii. Using the device incorrectly
If you are new to vaping, you may simply not be using the device correctly.
Most tobacco cigarette smokers draw short drags straight to their lungs.
Vapers, however, tend to take a long drag into their mouths and then draw it into their lungs.
We find taking long, gentle drags produces a better nicotine hit.
Learn more: How to Vape - Inhaling
iv. Weak battery
Your battery may simply just be running out of power. Try switching to a fully charged battery and see if it makes a difference.
If you are using a variable wattage device, try turning up the power. Don’t overdo it, though, as too much power can burn the coil.
Check your coil. If you are using a coil with a low resistance (measured in ohms) you will need more power. You may need a more powerful battery, or you could try a coil with a higher resistance.
For more information see our Guide to Vape Batteries.
v. Tank issues
Your tank or pod may need a new coil, or it may be flooded. See below for the solutions!
vi. Type of vape juice
Most vapers who need a strong nicotine hit use regular 10ml e-liquids. An alternative is nicotine salts, and many users find these give a stronger, quicker nicotine hit than regular ‘freebase’ e-liquids.
i. Using the wrong vape juice
All vape juices maintain a balance between throat hit and vapour production. The exact throat hit/vapour production depends on the ratio of vegetable glycerine (VG) to propylene glycol (PG).
This is usually displayed on the label as a ratio e.g. VG:PG 50:50, which stands for 50% vegetable glycerine and 50% propylene glycol.
More propylene glycol (PG) leads to a greater throat hit, while more vegetable glycerine (VG) leads to greater vapour production.
If the throat hit is too weak, you may need a vape juice with more PG , such as Halo Vapour Co. 10ml. If it is too strong, you may need one with more VG.
ii. Using the wrong device
Again, some devices produce a stronger throat hit than others.
Tank and pod systems generally produce more throat hit than cigalikes (devices that closely resemble traditional tobacco cigarettes).
At the other end of the scale, some modern tanks have massive airflow. If you have these set to wide open, you may find the vape too airy to provide a decent throat hit.
If a good throat hit is important to you, it’s hard to do better than the Aspire PockeX.
iii. Flooded tank
Alternatively, your tank may be flooded - see our section further down this post for tips and advice on what to do.
For more information see Vaper's Guide to Throat hit.
i. Check the mouthpiece
Mouthpieces can get clogged up with dust and dirt, especially if you vape outside a lot. This can be cleared simply by removing the mouthpiece and blowing through it to remove the dust and dirt.
From a vape hygiene point of view, though, it is also a good idea to clean the mouthpiece out on a regular basis.
ii. Check the airflow
If the airflow holes are closed off completely, you may not get any vapour. Check the airflow controls, and open them up if needed.
iii. VG:PG Ratio
Again, the VG:PG ratio may not be quite right for you! Using an e-liquid with more VG may increase vapour production.
iv. Use a more powerful device
This is starting to sound repetitive ;) But the more powerful the battery you are using, the more vapour you are going to get from it.
i. Is the battery turned on?
If you are using a manual battery, click it 3, 5 or 6 times (depending on the model you are using) to make sure it is turned on. The light on the button should flash when either being turned on or off.
ii. Connection issues
The issue could be the connection between your battery and tank. Ensure that the battery terminal and the end of your tank are clean. Using a cotton bud is sufficient enough, although you will find more detailed steps in our tank and battery articles.
If these steps don’t work, check out the battery troubleshooting section on our Guide to Vape Batteries.
i. Is the tank fitted correctly?
The best way to fit your tank is to give it a half turn anti-clockwise until you hear a click, then screw it on clockwise until it is firmly attached. This avoids mis-threading the tank.
ii. Check the o-rings
Some devices use o-rings in the tank to prevent leakage. If you have a leaking tank, it’s worth checking to see if the o-ring has moved or is broken. Some tanks come with replacement o-rings just in case this happens.
iii. Change the brand
If the problem is repeating itself, you may simply need to change the brand of device you are using. Some brands boast about their leakproof technology, but while they don't always highlight the fact, we find that Vaporesso are one of the best brands for leakproof technology. Some great options include Vaporesso iTank and the Xros Mini.
For more troubleshooting tips, see 13 Tips For Fixing a Leaking Tank.
i. Using the tank straight after filling
Have you let your vape juice soak in? Most tanks should be left for five minutes or so to allow the juice to soak into the coil, wick and atomiser. If you haven’t done this, you will probably get a horrible burnt taste!
It’s also a good idea (and essential with low resistance coils) to prime the coil first.
To do this, simply drip a few drops of vape juice directly onto the coil and into any ports in the coil.
If you have a more advanced coil, check out the video below for additional priming tips:
ii. Time to change the coil!
Coils (that’s the part that heats up the vape juice) don’t last forever. Most modern vape tanks come with replacement coils, and you will usually need to change the coil every few days or weeks depending on its resistance. If you use a tank, pod or cartridge with a fixed coil, you will need to replace the whole thing.
Tip: The longer you hold down the button, the quicker the coil will burn out. It’s best to give your device a few seconds break between each puff. You might also want to consider trying the Innokin Sensis EZ, which uses coil refresh technology to prime the coil between puffs.
iii. Insufficient vape juice
Coils will usually have little holes which soak in the vape juice from the tank. Always ensure there is enough liquid in the tank to cover these holes and prevent the coil from drying out.
For more tips see 7 Easy Ways to Stop Your Coil From Burning.
i. Blow on the tank
Try gently blowing back through the tank (don’t blow too hard or you will get vape juice into the centre tube, leading to flooding issues). This works surprisingly well at releasing flavour.
If that doesn’t work, it may be time to change the coil. As coils age, they degrade, and become less good at producing flavour.
ii. Change your vape juice
Alternatively, you may have the dreaded vaper’s tongue! This can be usually solved by changing the vape juice you are using.
If this doesn’t work, check out our post Vaper’s Tongue: What is it, What Causes it, and How To Cure It, which includes a description of the problem, possible causes and 9 solutions to try out.
The propylene glycol in e-liquid can cause a dry/sore throat. Most people find that a drink of water is enough to resolve the issue, but a very few people may need to switch to a high vegetable glycerine (VG) e-liquid such as Wick Liquor.
If you get a gurgling noise when you are using your vape device, you probably have a flooded tank or pod. Possible causes include:
- shaking the tank too much or too vigorously
- inhaling too hard
- overfilling the tank or pod
- cross-threading the tank (always give a half turn anti-clockwise first to ensure correct threading)
- screwing the tank on to the battery too loosely or too tightly
- pressing the button for too long before you inhale
- incorrectly filling the tank (e.g. accidentally filling the centre tube that runs through the tank).
Solutions to try include:
- removing the drip tip and blowing through it
- cleaning or changing the coil
- draining the e-liquid and cleaning it with some tissue paper
- cleaning the tank by running it under hot but not boiling water. If you do this, ensure the coil and tank are completely dry before using it again.
i. Are you using the right charger?
We have found that many problems are caused by using the wrong charger or plug. If you’re having problems, try using a Veho plug and AnyVape USB charging cable.
ii. Are the terminals clean?
Ensure that the charger and battery terminals are clean – if not, clean them with a cotton bud.
Also remember that electronic cigarette batteries are not designed to be used with tablet or phone chargers (again, electronic cigarette batteries should only ever be charged using the charger provided).
iii. Are the terminals touching?
Sometimes it’s possible for the charging terminals to be pushed in and not making proper contact.
iv. Check the USB charger
Before reporting an issue to your vape vendor, it’s worth doing some checking to isolate the problem. Charging with a different USB charger will identify whether the problem is with the battery or the USB charger.
Spitback, in vaping parlance, is when your tank spits back a little bit of hot vape juice. If you get a little pop when you first fire up your vape, you’ll know what we are talking about.
You can read more about spitback and its causes here, but essentially it’s an easy problem to solve. Simply point your vape away from you when you first fire it up!
If you continue to find spitback annoying, you might want to consider switching to a device designed to eliminate it. The Vaporesso Luxe XR uses leak prevention technology which can reduce condensation and spitback.
Some new vapers cough when they vape.
We’ve written extensively about this, but for a quick solution, try changing your vaping style.
Take a long slow drag, and ensure you do not breathe air in around the mouthpiece.
For an in-depth guide, see: Why you cough when you vape, and how to stop it.
Sometimes when you are using a mod you’ll get a message saying “No atomizer” or check “Check atomizer”. (Atomizer here refers to the coil).
It’s annoying as, usually, you do have a coil attached when you vape!
When this happens, it’s worth:
- Checking the connection between your tank and your mod
- Cleaning the coil and the connection
- Trying a new coil
For more details and more solutions, see Getting a “No Atomizer” Message on Your Mod? Here’s How to Fix It.
Stealth mode hides your screen when you are vaping, so it’s worth checking to see if you have accidentally put the device into stealth mode. Controls for this vary depending on mod, but if you have lost your instructions you can:
- try pressing the fire button three times to enter the menu
- press the up and down buttons together.
If that fails, the manufacturer will usually have the manual on their website.
As we explored in our interview with Dr Jacques Le Houezec, nicotine can turn dark when it is exposed to light or oxygen. This may also affect the taste, but should not change the effects.
Dr Houzec recommends keeping the bottle in a cool, dark place to avoid this.
This is a big topic, and if you’re serious about flavour it’s well worth checking out the linked tutorial below. Some tips to try, though, include:
- Using a more restricted airflow
- Adjusting the wattage
- Trying out temperature control
- Using a narrow bore drip-tip
- Ensure you are priming your coil
- Cleaning your coil
- Changing your coil
- Ensuring the drip tip is clean
It’s also worth experimenting with different devices. The Uwell Calibun G is widely regarded as the best device for flavour. It’s also worth trying the Innokin Sensis. This device uses auto-priming and refresh technology which allows you to boost the flavour between inhales.
Learn more: 10 tips for flavour chasing vapour