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 clearomiser?
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 patter of a dripping tap.
Thankfully, for most tanks, you can fix (or at least reduce) problems with leaking pretty easily, so here are 10 tips for staying leak-free!
How to Stop Your Tank Leaking: Downloadable Cheat Sheet
Get our best advice in a compact, printable guide
1 – Make Sure You Fill Your Tank Up Properly
Want to know what causes most leaks?
It’s how you fill your clearomiser.
All tank style atomizers 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 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 clearomiser 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.
2 – Tighten Everything Up – and Watch Out for Cross-Threading…
There’s another basic issue that can lead to leaking.
And that’s when the various components aren’t securely screwed in.
- where your coil meets the base of your atomizer
- or where the base of your atomizer meets the tank
can be enough to create a leak.
This is easy to avoid. Take time and ensure that:
- when you re-attach your atomizer head to the base (or to the top of the central tube, for top-coil tanks)
- when you re-attach the base to your tank
everything fits snugly.
You should also check your atomizer head even if you haven’t done anything with it specifically, because its connection can sometimes loosen when you unscrewing your tank.
The biggest problem you’ll encounter when screwing everything in 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 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
3 – …But Don’t Over-Tighten
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.
And a little split or break gives e-liquid 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 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.
4 – Leave the Tank Standing Up
When you are not using your vapouriser, 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 under half-filled.
This is due to the “juice holes” in the coil.
When it 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 air flow holes.
5 – Use the Correct Coils for the E-Liquid To Reduce Leaking
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 the 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 air flow 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 flooding issues. These coil allow too much thinner liquid into the coil, which will end up either in the central tube, or leaking out of the air flow holes.
Find out more about coils:
6 – Check Your O-Rings and Replace Them if Needed
It’s not just over-tightening that can lead to issues with O-rings.
They can also degrade or get budged out of position over time, and may just be faulty when you first receive them.
To check your O-rings, take your clearomizer or tank apart – this usually just requires unscrewing the various parts – and look for the rubber rings on the atomizer 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.
7 – Adding Extra Seals for the Aspire Triton and Nautilus
Sometimes, tanks and clearomizers could use more sealing – particularly where the atomizer head meets the centre tube.
For the Triton, you’ll just need one of those little silicone drip tip covers and a pair of scissors.
Unscrew the tank and remove the coil from the base.
There are two sets of threading on the coil, one at the bottom – which is surrounded by little O-rings on both sides – and one at the top, just above the ridged section.
The upper threading has no seal below (or above) it, which is the source of the issue.
Cut yourself a section of your silicone drip tip cover, so you end up with a ring just wide enough to fit between the raised, ridged section and the upper threading, and put it there.
You can cut the ring to size more precisely once you’ve got it in place. This makes it less likely to get in the way when you’re trying to re-assemble, but be careful!
Once everything is re-attached, you should be able to vape leak-free.
The problem on the Nautilus is almost identical (as so is the fix). The only difference is that you can use the lower O-ring from another coil instead of cutting one for yourself.
8 – Increase Your Power Setting
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…
9 – Add Extra Wicking Material
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 its 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.
10 – Switch to Higher-VG Juices
This is a bit of a simplistic solution, but thinner, PG-based juices will generally leak more than VG-based ones.
So switching to VG juices 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.
You can find a range of high VG e-liquids here.
11 – Inhale Slowly and Softly, Not Firmly and Sharply
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 atomizer.
12 – Minimise Condensation with Long Draws
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 e-cig
- 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 clearomizer, putting a paper towel below the point that connects to the battery and blowing firmly through the mouthpiece.
13: Choose a Leak Resistant Tank
Since we first wrote this post advances in technology are making some tanks leak resistant.
The one leading the field is the Aspire Nautilus X. The Nautilus designs aims to eliminate leaking by positioning air-flow at the top of the tank, replacing bottom-filling with top-filling and completely sealing the bottom of the tank with a rubber gasket.
The Nautilus X is not really suitable for sub-ohmers, but other e-cig manufacturers are likely to follow in their footsteps in the very near future!
14 -Bonus Tip – Taking a flight? Empty your tank!
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 airplane 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 eliquid creates an 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.
For more essential travel trips, check out our Guide to Travelling with E-Cigs. It’s already helped tens of thousands of travellers to travel safely – and avoid fines and jail time!
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 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 clearomisers? Let me know in the comments below!