As much as I’ll sing the praises of vaping at any opportunity, it must be said that there are more obstacles with vape devices than there are with a cigarette.
When you’re smoking, as long as your cigarette isn’t wet and your lighter works, you’re good to go. But with a vape mod, there is a list of potential problems you can run into, from something as simple as a coil resistance that’s too low for the device to slightly more technical issues like a burnt taste when you vape or a flooded coil.
One of the more common problems people run into is your device throwing up a “No atomizer” or "Check atomizer” message when you press the fire button. This can be really frustrating because you know your tank is attached, full of juice and ready to go, but it just refuses to work.
The good news is that the “No atomizer” / “Check atomizer” issue is easy to solve – it’s probably just a case of checking your tank’s connections and cleaning around the contact points. Here’s what you need to know to get your device working properly again.
What does “No Atomizer” or “Check Atomizer” mean?
When you get the “No atomizer” or “Check atomizer” message, it means your mod doesn’t think your tank – or more specifically, your coil or atomizer head – is attached to the connection point. You’ll see the same message when you try to fire a mod without anything attached. However, if your tank or atomizer appears to be attached, it really just means that something is preventing it from making a connection.It might seem like a strange error sometimes, especially if you’ve been vaping without problems just before it shows up. But connection issues can develop over time even if you don’t physically move or change anything on your setup – it’s less likely to happen this way, but it does still happen fairly regularly. For example, the refilling process for your tank might slightly move the atomizer head, and over time this can lead to a disconnection.
Isolating the issue: Check your tank with another mod or vice versa
Although it’s probably an issue relating to your tank or atomizer, it’s a good idea to clarify the cause of the problem before you go ahead with a fix. The easiest way to do this is to find another mod or another tank and try switching up your setup.
- If your mod works absolutely fine with another tank attached, you know the problem is related to the tank you were using.
- If the mod still doesn’t work with a new tank, it’s likely a problem with your mod.
- If your tank works with another mod, you know the problem is with the mod itself, not the tank.
- If the tank still doesn’t work on another mod, you know it’s a problem with the tank.
For problems with tanks...
In most cases, the problem will be with your tank rather than your mod. So here’s what to do if that’s the problem and you’re using a sub-ohm tank or most other tank types.
Check your connections
The most likely cause of the problem is that something genuinely isn’t connected properly. The first thing to do is to check you’ve screwed your tank down onto the connection point of your mod securely. Simply unscrew your tank, reattach it and then give it another try. On most modern devices, when you screw it on a message will pop up asking if it’s the same coil as you were using previously or a new coil. If this doesn’t happen, just try to fire again and see if you get the same error.
If this doesn’t work, it could still be a physical connection issue, just with your atomizer head (or “coil”) and the tank, rather than with the tank and your mod. Unscrew the base of the tank to get access to the atomizer head – you might have to empty the juice out of the tank before doing this in some cases, but this depends on your specific tank. Now find the point where your coil connects to the base of the tank.
Remove the atomizer head and then screw it back in place, taking care to ensure it connects cleanly and you don’t end up with crossed threading (you can clean the coil and the connections first if you like – since you’re already removing it, you might as well – see the section below). The easiest way to make sure it’s all lined up properly is to put the atomizer head in place but turn it left as if you’re unscrewing, until you hear a distinctive click as it drops down the start of the threading. When you’ve heard this, you know it’s in position and you can turn it to the right to screw the coil in place. Re-assemble the tank and see if your device fires now.
Clean your coil and the connections
If you’re still having problems – or if you just want to cover all your bases – it’s worth giving your atomizer head a quick clean. This doesn’t have to be anything substantial (i.e. there’s no need for a full hot water clean and then leaving it to dry for a day), just get a cotton bud/swab/Q-tip and clean around the base of the atomizer head and the threading, where it makes the connection with the tank. It’s a good idea to clean the tank where the atomizer head is connected as well.
While you have your cotton bud out, you should clean around the 510 connection at the base of the tank too (the part you connect to the mod) and the connection point on your mod. Any debris stuck here could disrupt the connection and lead to the “No atomizer” message. Similarly, if some e-juice has leaked out, this could be interfering with the connection too. Give it a thorough clean and the problem should be rectified.
Again, reconnect everything and try your device. If everything works, then you’re good to go. If not, read on because it might be a more complicated issue.
Try a new coil
If cleaning and reconnecting hasn’t solved the problem, it’s possible that the atomizer head is just a dud or past its prime. Unfortunately, there is no solution to this problem other than trying a new atomizer head and making sure it’s connected properly. If this still doesn’t work, either there’s a bigger problem with your tank or (more likely) it’s something to do with your mod.
Look at the connection point on your tank
Although these issues are less common nowadays, thanks to most mods featuring spring-loaded contact points, the connection point on your tank might be too far recessed to make a good connection with your mod. Look at the 510 connection and you should see a (usually gold-plated) contact point protruding out from the middle of the threading underneath. In other words, the contact point should be slightly lower than the base of the threading.On most modern devices, this will be a flat, smooth surface and unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do if it’s pushed too far in. However, on older tanks, in particular, there is often a point for a flat-head screwdriver on the contact point. If there is, unscrew this very slightly – just enough so it protrudes below the threading – and try to connect again. Be careful with this, though, because unscrewing it too much can cause other problems since it’s also used to hold the bits of your tank together.
For problems with RDAs/RBAs...
If you’re vaping with a rebuildable atomizer of some type (whether a dripping atomizer – RDA – or a rebuildable tank) the advice is largely similar to the above, but there are a couple of extra potential issues to consider.
Are your post screws tightened down?
Aside from the issues you might encounter that overlap with sub-ohm tanks (e.g. a poor connection between the atomizer and your mod, dirty connections or a recessed 510 connector), one of the main things you should check is whether the screws you use to connect your coil to the post are tightened down enough. Like with the atomizer heads coming loose over time, these can loosen during general use.Provided you can’t see an obvious problem (e.g. one of the “legs” of your coil being completely out of the post) just grab your screwdriver and tighten them down. Give the device another try to see if this solves the problem.
Is the coil making contact with the outer chamber?
Another potential cause of problems with rebuildable tanks in particular is if the coil is making contact with the chamber that surrounds the build deck. This can happen on dripping atomizers too, but it’s more likely on RTAs (rebuildable tank atomizers) because the chambers tend to be more compact and offer less building space.
It’s easy to work out if this is happening if you just take a look inside the chamber, especially if you can see inside without removing the cap. If your coil is making contact (or looks suspiciously close to the edge) all you have to do is work out how to move it a little to avoid the issue – normally you can move it up or down slightly, bending the “legs” and moving it away from the cap in the process. At worst, you might have to unscrew the posts and simply push the coil closer into them.
Of course, you need to be careful to ensure the coil is cool before you do any of this, and it’s better to either switch off your mod or unscrew the atomizer to avoid accidental firing.
Check for breaks in the wire
Finally, sometimes – especially if you’re vaping at higher power settings – your coil can just break in-use. This will create a gap in the coil and lead to the circuit not completing, which will lead to your mod throwing up the “No atomizer” error because it can’t get a current flowing. This is pretty easy to spot if you look at your coil, but unfortunately can’t be fixed: you just have to make a new coil!
For problems with your mod...
In the unlikely event that it’s actually your mod causing the problem rather than your tank, there are a few things you can do to rectify the issue. Generally speaking, though, if it’s a problem with your mod the fixes are more risky to perform and it might just not be possible to solve.
Clean the connection point and look for debris
The only really easily fixable problem with your mod that could cause a connection issue is a build-up of dirt or debris around the connection point. Like the suggestion above for cleaning your tank or coil, you just need to get a cotton bud/Q-tip and clean around the threading and 510 connection.You can use a bit of kitchen roll if there is a big juice leak (this is a good idea anyway because you don’t want it to get into the internal circuitry of the device), but generally speaking you’re just looking for anything that could be blocking the connection between the contact point at the bottom of your tank and the matching point on your mod.
Is the contact point high enough?
Just like older tank designs tended to have adjustable contact points on the bottom to ensure you could make a connection, it is technically possible (though not exactly advisable) to adjust the height of the contact point on your mod. It’s important to note that most modern devices have spring-loaded contact points so you probably don’t need to do this unless you have quite an old device.
If your device is new or still in warranty, it’s worth contacting the retailer about the issue, just in case they can replace the device for you before you do anything that might void the warranty.
However, if you’ve ruled everything else out and your tank works on a different mod, it might be worth trying to raise the contact point slightly. You’ll need a small (precision) flathead screwdriver to do this. Around the sides of the (usually gold-plated) contact point, there should be a small space that you can get the tip of the screwdriver into. Put the screwdriver there and very gently wiggle the contact point up slightly, before doing the same thing on the other side. It’s better to be cautious when you’re doing this – move it a tiny bit and then re-check, then move it a tiny bit more and re-check again. If you go too far you could ruin the whole mod, so only do this if you’re out of ideas and don’t mind taking a risk with your device.
If all else fails...get a new mod
Unfortunately, some issues just aren’t fixable. For whatever reason, the mod could be malfunctioning or just failing to make a connection regardless of the situation. In these cases, you might just need a new mod altogether. It’s not the type of news you want to get, but if you’ve ruled everything else out and can’t fix the problem, it’s a sign of a more serious issue.
Any other Ideas?
We’ve covered the most common causes of a “No atomizer” or “Check atomizer” message in this article, but it’s a common issue and there are many potential fixes, especially if it’s a known problem with a specific device. So if you think we’ve missed anything important or you have some other advice that could help anyone who stumbles across this post, let us know in the comments!