cUpdated January 2021
Why was everyone looking at him? Phil wondered as he made his way down the aisle.
A girl glanced at his crotch and then giggled before covering her mouth with her hands and looking away.
Then, he felt a cold dribble running down his leg and a sweet smell drifting up from his pockets.
Not again! he thought, as his face reddened with embarrassment…
Source: An embarrassed colleague!
Have you ever had a leaking vape tank? If so, you’re not alone…
Leaking tanks are one of the banes of my existence.
It’s not like it really does much harm.
After all, you can just clean it up and get on with your day.
But it’s still one of those annoyances that seems to amplify the longer it’s there, like the constant pattern of a dripping tap.
Thankfully, for most tanks, you can fix (or at least reduce) problems with leaking pretty easily.
- Fill your tank correctly
- Tighten everything up, & watch out for cross threading
- But don’t over-tighten!
- Leave the tank standing up
- Use the correct coils
- Check your o-rings
- Check for cracks
- Increase your power settings
- Add extra wicking (RBA only)
- Switch to higher VG juices
- Inhale slowly and softly
- Minimise condensation with long draws
- Clean the chimney
- Choose a leak-resistant vape
- Taking a flight? Empty your tank!
Want to know what causes most leaks?
It’s how you fill your tank.
Vape tanks have a central tube extending from the coil up to the mouthpiece.
If you get e-liquid in there, you’ll almost certainly run into problems with leaking or gurgling.
The fix for this is simple…
Ensure that when you fill up, you avoid getting any e-liquid in the central tube.
Tilt your tank at a 45-degree angle when you fill up - like you’re pouring a glass of beer.
This ensures the liquid runs down the inside of the glass or plastic of your tank – and stays as far away from the centre tube as possible.
As it fills up, gradually straighten the tank to avoid spills.
If you do manage to get liquid down the central tube, make sure that you clear the excess before use by:
- holding some tissue at the end, and blowing the excess out of the bottom.
- or by flicking the tank into some tissue
Don’t Overfill The Tank
Leaving a small amount of air actually creates a vacuum inside the tank which helps hold the e-liquid in the chamber.
Update: Since we first wrote this post there have been strides forward in filling technology, with many tanks and pods making it impossible to accidentally fill the center tube. The Uwell Aeglos, for example, now comes with a silicone valve to help ensure mess-free, leak-free filling.
There’s another basic issue that can lead to leaking.
When the various components aren’t securely screwed in, gaps are created.
Gaps, both where your coil meets the base of your atomizer or where the base of the coil meets the tank can be enough to create a leak.
This is easy to avoid by taking time to ensure that everything fits snugly when attaching the coil to the tank.
You should also check your coil head, even if you haven’t done anything with it specifically, because its connection can sometimes loosen when you are unscrewing your tank.
The biggest problem you’ll encounter is “cross threading”.
That’s where the threads on the two components you’re screwing together don’t line up properly, leading to an imperfect seal.
As we’ve suggested before, the best solution to this is to:
- line everything up
- turn it anti-clockwise until you hear a click
- screw it in clockwise.
There’s one problem with this…
and that’s when you over-tighten.
O-rings are tiny rubber rings. You’ll find them near the threading and where two parts of your tank meet.
They are key to making a perfect seal – and reducing the chance of leaks.
However, over-tightening can damage these little helpers.
A little split or break gives vape juice an “escape route” – meaning you end up with juice leaking out into your pocket.
(Which is embarrassingly close to somewhere you really don’t want e-liquid!)
Of course, the line between tight enough and too tight is a little hard to define.
The basic lesson is to screw everything in place firmly but to remember that you shouldn’t need to put much strength into it.
There’s no need to Hulk out; screw it in so it fits snugly – but not as tight as you possibly can.
When you are not using your vape, or even in between vapes, the unit should be left in a vertical position.
This doesn’t matter as much when the tank is full. However, it definitely has an effect when the tank is less than half filled.
This is due to the ports or “juice holes” in the coil.
When the tank is full, the holes are covered with juice and it is hard for the e-liquid to escape.
However, when it is under half full, and not stood up, some “juice holes” come out of the e-liquid. This makes it easier for juice to seep through the coil, and into either the central tube or out of the airflow holes
Most tanks come with replaceable coils with varying resistances. These are suited for doing different things.
Higher resistance coils (above 1 ohm) very much imitate a cigarette in the way that they are used, and therefore tend to have smaller juice holes. This is ideal for higher PG (thinner) liquids as they can flow easily.
High VG (thicker) liquid used in one of these coils may clog up the coil a lot more quickly.
What’s more, higher VG liquid vaporises at a higher temperature. This can cause excess juice problems because the coil can’t vapourise the liquid properly.
Low-resistance coils (below 1 ohm) should be used with higher VG (thicker) liquid, as the juice holes and airflow holes are generally a lot bigger to allow for the thicker liquid.
If you try to put high PG (thinner) liquids in one of these coils you’re likely to encounter flooding issues. These coils allow too much of the thinner liquid into the coil, which will end up either in the central tube, or leaking out of the airflow holes.
Learn more about coils here
It’s not just over-tightening that can lead to issues with O-rings.
They can also degrade, get budged out of position over time or may just be faulty when you first receive them.
To check your O-rings, take your tank apart – this usually just requires unscrewing the various parts – and look for the rubber rings on the coil head and at the base of your tank.
You should be able to see if any are degraded or out of position. If they are, remove them– and replace them with fresh ones.
Something like a small flat-head screwdriver, a toothpick or a pair of tweezers can help with this.
Some tanks will come with spares, but if not, you’ll have to buy some more in the correct size.
It’s also worth checking that your O-ring is installed correctly, so everything fits together with no obvious gaps e-liquid can leak through.
Hairline cracks in the glass can easily lead to e-liquid seeping out. When that happens, you need a replacement glass for your tank.
Fortunately, nowadays most brands supply spare vape glasses, which can cost as little as 99p. In fact, you may even find a spare glass in the packaging your tank originally came in. Simply slip one of these on and away you go.
How do you prevent cracks in the first place? One way is to use a vape band, which offers your tank some extra protection (particularly useful with the Aspire PockeX).
One of the most common causes of leaks is actually flooding.
That’s when too much juice gets pulled into your coil for it to vaporise.
Tons of excess e-liquid that can leak out of the coil housing.
There are a few ways to solve this…
The simplest is to switch to a higher power or voltage setting.
This will vaporise more juice per puff, so it can cope with the amount of e-liquid making its way to your coil.
It will also lead to more vapour (which you may not want), and can bring out different elements of the flavour of your juice. So it isn’t always ideal.
It’s not the only solution, though…
If you are having leaking issues when using an RBA (re-buildable Atomiser), then it is nearly always down to the way that it has been wicked.
You need just enough cotton to fill up the space around the coils, but not too much so that the air can get through.
There should be just enough cotton to fit through the coil itself, without bunching up on either side when it's pulled.
If it is too tight, then the liquid won’t be able to get to the coil
Please note, this only applies to people building their own coils, we do not advise modifying stock coils.
This is a bit of a simplistic solution, but thinner, PG-based juices will generally leak more than VG-based ones.
So switching to high VG juices such as the IVG Mixer Range will often at least slow down the leaking.
You can add in extra wicking material or boost your power setting to prevent your coil head from flooding and leaking – as in the previous two tips. But switching to VG-based juices has pretty much the same effect, because the liquid can’t be drawn into the coil head as quickly.
If you combine approaches, you might have problems with dry hits, but choosing any one of the approaches should minimize flooding and leaking without taking things too far.
If you’re still having problems with leaky tanks, particularly if you’re relatively new to vaping, your inhalation style could be the cause.
There’s a core difference between inhaling from a cigarette and from an e-cigarette…
Drawing harder on a cigarette gives you more smoke, but inhaling more sharply on an e-cigarette accomplishes little.
In fact, when you puff sharply on your e-cigarette, you may be pulling liquid into the coil housing faster than it can vaporise it.
That leaves you to sucking some excess liquid up through the centre tube like a straw – and potentially causing leaking.
The solution takes some getting used to, but it’s easy:
Make your puffs much longer, and don’t worry about inhaling sharply. Vapour will come even with gentle inhalation, and you won’t flood your coil.
There’s one source of leaking you can do little about.
It’s hard to inhale all the vapour you produce when you press the fire button and take a puff, and any remaining vapour will eventually condense into your centre tube or mouthpiece.
This is not a lot of e-liquid, but it will build up over time.
That’s why, even when there are no clear signs of leaking from the connections on your atomizer and no gurgling to indicate you’re flooding your coil, you may still notice e-liquid has leaked through onto your device’s connection.
To minimise this happening:
- inhale as soon as you fire up your vape
- take your finger off the fire button when you have finished inhaling
You can also clear any accumulated e-liquid out of the tube by removing your tank, putting a paper towel below the point that connects to the battery and blowing firmly through the mouthpiece.
If you do get condensation collecting in the drip tip, it’s well worth cleaning it out.
Simply remove the drip tip, roll up some tissue paper and push it through.
Since we first wrote this post advances in technology are continuing to improve the leak resistance of tanks.
That said, there still seem to be few devices that are fully leak resistant for everybody. I see devices which work perfectly for most people, but which do cause leaks for a handful of vapers.
Still, some tanks are better than others.
As we sell tens of thousands of tanks every year, I went to the experts - our customer service team - to see which tanks cause the least problems.
These were there top recommendations:
- Inokin Zlide Tank, or any kit which includes it (Adept Zlide, Kroma-R, Z50)
- Aspire PockeX
- Innokin Endura T18II (IF the coil is installed correctly)
New products are coming in all the time, so if you have problems with leaking tanks (and it seems to affect some people more than others) do ask your supplier for their advice.
Remember that story at the start of this post?
Well, here’s how to avoid it ever happening to you!
You see, your e-liquid and tank really don’t get on with aeroplane pressure changes.
I’ve noticed that after takeoff, and as the plane starts to level out a bit for the slow climb, my tank starts to leak.
Your e-liquid just wants out!
It’s pretty embarrassing when this happens and the smell of your e-liquid creates a sweet-smelling atmosphere around you
Particularly if the people sitting next to you notice that you have an electronic cigarette, and think that you’ve been using it.
(Which, on Qatar Airways at least, can lead to jail time!)
So before you board your flight, go to the bathroom and empty your tank into the toilet or sink.
Thanks to Barry Mihychuk for suggesting these additional tips.
Use Q-Tips (UK: Cotton Buds)
A tip to help prevent ‘miser leakage – I have a Kanger Mini.
I will remove the mouthpiece every couple of days if it is gurgling a lot and I will insert a Q-tip (twirl the cotton to a point first) and push it down the tube to the bottom of the cartidge and this will absorb the excess eliquid that may be pooling in there.
How to stop inhaling droplets
What I have done is insert a small piece of screen from a ‘420’ pipe into the base of the mouthpiece – this is where the flexible plastic mouthpieces come in handy.
Yes, the screen will plug up a bit and a couple of times a day I pull out the mouthpiece and blow it into a tissue or into the air to clear it but now I don’t get droplets in my mouth. Taking light, small draws also help.
If all fails… time for a new coil
If you’re like me, you try to squeeze every last puff out of your coil…
Unfortunately, this increases your chance of having leaking issues.
When your wick is dying or your coil isn’t functioning optimally, flooding becomes a much more common issue, and leaking quickly follows.
And – sadly for the misers among us – the only solution is to take out the old coil and replace it with a fresh, shiny new one.
If you really want to save money, you can try to remove and replace the wick. You may get a little bit more leak-free vaping out of the coil, but it’s only a temporary solution.
The battle against leaking: Hard to win, but easy to fight
Leaking is an unavoidable fact of life for vapers.
Preventing leaking altogether is almost impossible.
But you can keep leakage to a minimum.
The key is maintenance. The more you look after your atomizer and follow the best practices, the fewer leaks you will have…
And with the odd MacGyver-style fix thrown in for common issues, you’ll hardly have any leaks at all.
Unless you use RDAs, that is: then you’re pretty much on your own.
What are your top tips for dealing with leaking tanks? Let me know in the comments below!