Ahhh, vape leaks. We’ve all been there, usually when we’ve just filled up the tank and taken our first pull, only to discover a long line of sticky vape juice covering our hand as it leaks down the tank. Or you’ve left it in your car or purse and forgotten about it, only to suddenly remember it and find a brown gooey mess completely covering our beloved vape. Worse still, you’ve dropped it and thought it was fine, only to discover hours later that your tank is empty and your vape is ruined. Which begs the following question: why does my vape leak? Today, we’re going to tackle some of the most common reasons why our vapes leak, as well as some weird reasons why your vape could be leaking.
E-LIQUID FILL PORT
This is actually one of the most common reasons. Your vape tank has a central tube that goes all the way through the center of your tank. This tube is responsible for bringing air, via the air slots, through the chimney as you inhale. But it’s also very easy for new vapers to confuse with the e-liquid fill port, as it’s usually very close to the central tube. Just keep in mind where you’re filling up your vape juice, and you should be fine. In the event that you do happen to get juice into that central tube, you can either tilt the tank to allow the juice to run out through the airflow slots, or you disassemble your tank and rinse everything out (except the coil - make sure to keep that dry!) Once the tank has been rinsed and dried, you can fill up your tank again, this time with the proper e-liquid fill port.
LEAVING THE DEVICE ON ITS SIDE
Again, for new vapers, this is a common mistake. A lot of times, new vapers will treat their vape kit like their phones or wallets...just place them flat on the counter, car cupholder, or bottom of a bag! This would seem like a safe precaution so they don’t tip over. And since the tank is made of glass and the buttons might depress unknowingly against a firm surface, it makes sense to try to eliminate those options. Unfortunately, this is an extremely easy way for tanks to leak, especially if the tank isn’t full. Atomizers are built to rest vertically in the tank. Each atomizer is built with something called “juice holes” that allows the juice to flow smoothly through the cotton. These juice holes are submerged in e-liquid when the tank is full, but as you continue to use your vape, gradually the vape juice level decreases. This isn’t a problem if the tank is standing upright. But once the vape is left to lay on its side, the e-liquid can slowly pass through the atomizer’s juice holes and leak out via the airflow slots or the central tube. Then you’re left with a sweet sticky mess and a lot of frustration. It may take some getting used to, but if you can learn to leave your tank sitting upright, you can eliminate one reason your tank might be leaking.
ATOMIZER: TOO LOOSE OR TOO TIGHT
Coils are the bane of vaper’s existence...they provide vapers with smooth and flavorful clouds, but they also create a world of headaches. Your coil can cause dry hits if the cotton isn’t saturated enough; different types and flavors of e-juice can clog the coil and make it completely unusable; and the average coil life span can last anywhere from a few days to an entire month. But atomizers can also be the cause of a leaky tank. If the coils aren’t screwed in tightly enough, there’s a gap between the coil and the base. Juice can then seep through that gap and drip out all over your hand and device. You might think the simple solution would be to screw in coils until they’re locked in tightly. But the tighter you screw in that coil, the more risk you run of cross threading the coil. Tightly screwing in the coil also puts unnecessary pressure on the tank’s base o-ring, causing it to tear or weaken. Now don’t throw up your hands in despair and give up completely. You’ll need a little trial and error before figuring out the coil’s sweet spot. Try to tighten it to the point where you know you can take it off easily when it’s time to change the coil, but not so loose as you can merely twist it and it spins.
This one is a bit more of a challenge, one that beginner and advanced vaper alike can struggle with. The o-ring on older tanks encircles the fill port, creating an air-tight seal. If the o-ring is damaged or broken, air can get into the tank and allows the e-liquid to leak out. Just stop for a minute and think how often you fill up your tank; how often do you tug, nudge, or bump the o-ring with the e-liquid dropper tip? Even worse, you may have gotten faulty o-rings right out of the box, either as the installed one or the spare one. But not to worry; spare o-rings can easily be found online or at your local vape shop. Installation is fairly simple; a pair of tweezers can be used to pick out the old o-ring, and a flathead screwdriver can be used to tamp down the new o-ring. O-rings will wear out over time, so make sure to check them for tears or overstretched elasticity if you find your tank to be leaking.
Learning how to use a vape, especially if you’re a cigarette smoker, can be a challenge. Believe it or not, the way you’re taking your first hit can be an indicator of why your vape is leaking. Cigarette/cigar smokers are accustomed to taking sharp and aggressive pulls, but thanks to the airflow slots in a vape tank, those methods aren’t necessary with your vape. In fact, the harsher and more aggressive your inhale, the more likely you are to flood your coil and end up with juice in your mouth. Instead of imitating the drag of a cigarette, take a gentle and relaxed breath. That’s how you should inhale when you take a hit of your vape. Don’t equate the sharpness of your inhale with the amount of clouds you’ll produce.
TYPE OF E-LIQUID
Many e-liquids are available for vaping and come in all sorts of flavors, consistencies, and VG/PG ratios. Yet certain e-liquids are more susceptible to leaking due to their consistencies. Remember in our last article how we learned that VG is used to thicken the consistency of vape juice? Here’s how that plays into possible vape tank leaks: the thinner the juice, the easier it is to seep out through the coils. If your favorite juice happens to be higher on the PG level, you can either add more wicking material (for RBA devices) or see if the manufacturer offers a higher VG ratio. While it might be frustrating to switch VG/PG ratios, it’ll save you a lot of headaches in the future with a non-leaky tank!
TRAVELING (ESPECIALLY BY PLANE)
Ready to explore the world with your trusty vape by your side? Here’s a word of warning for frequent flyer vapers: completely disassemble your vape setup before getting on the plane. Airplane pressure changes as you fly higher, and your vape may start to leak. Since you can’t vape in the airport or on the plane, you won’t need to have your vape completely set up until you exit the airport. I remember flying to LA from NYC and that first pull of my vape was glorious, but even more enjoyable because my vape was completely leak-free! The rules and regulations have fluctuated quite a bit since the popularity of vaping has increased, but you can check out the TSA regulations here. In my next article, we’ll discuss ways to travel with your vape.
Leaks can be caused by a number of reasons, some which can’t even be explained. In one of my previous blog posts, I mentioned how my entire tank was defective and I ended up having to send it back. In another article, I mentioned how much I love using my TF12 Smok tank, and the top-fill gasket folds completely inwards to close and leaves a slight gap in the top, and yet it doesn’t leak!
However, I’ve tried to list some of the common reasons why your tank might leak. If you’ve checked out all of these reasons why your tank is leaking and still have an issue, consider contacting the manufacturer about getting a replacement. If you’re out of warranty, check out your local vape shops. Those guys literally get paid to try e-liquids and tinker with vape setups all day. If they can’t fix it, they can definitely give you some options to buy a completely new tank or upgrade your current vape setup.
Do you have a story about your vape leaking? Share it in the comments below! While it may be annoying and frustrating in the moment, most of us can look back at our leaky vape experiences and laugh. Join the club of vapers around the world that have dealt with and conquered the leaky vape woes! As always, you can reach out via phone or email if you have a specific question related to your leaky tank. We'll see you soon in our next article!