Leaky vape tanks have to be one of the most annoying things vapers need to deal with. A leak can happen anywhere and at any time, leaving you with a real mess that you need to clean up.
Imagine this – you’re walking down the street and, finally, there’s no one behind you so you can break out your mod and take a nice, long puff without enveloping someone’s head in your vapor – at least, I’m considerate like that. You reach into your pocket and…it’s a slippery mess in there! Your mod is completely covered in vape juice but that’s not all – your phone is slimy, too. To make things worse, there’s a pretty nasty wet spot growing near your crotch region. You know what’s going on and a fellow vaper might know it too, but there’s no amount of explanation that’s going to save you from getting mortified looks from innocent bystanders.
I’ve had this happen to me, twice. I’ve heard even worse horror stories regarding leaky vape tanks from people going on job interviews or meeting their in-laws for the first time. There’s no doubt – leaky vapes are the bane of vaper’s existence. The post on this link deals in detail with cartridge leaks. However, tanks are a totally different beast so I’ve decided to make this particular write-up all about them.
Remember, finding a solution to leaky vapes is not only about saving your vape gear and other valuable possessions, it’s also about saving face. So let’s explore the common causes of leaky vapes and see if there are any easy fixes that can be applied that don’t require buying a new tank or visiting a vape shop.
Why Is My Vape Leaking?
Unfortunately, there’s no universal answer to this question. Vape tanks can leak for a wide variety of reasons that can range from manufacturing defect and design faults to mishandling and simple bad luck.
However, let’s assume that you’ve had the good fortune of buying a decently designed (and machined) tank. Why is it then still leaking? Here are a couple of (more common) issues that might be causing it:
Mishandling your vape tank
Not keeping your eye on the parts
Improper vaping technique
Using the wrong vape juice
There are several problems that can cause leakage in each of these categories. Luckily, most are pretty easy to fix by using a few simple tricks handed down from one vaping generation to the other.
1. Fill Your Tank Up The Right Way
The most common cause for a leaky tank is tied to beginner vapers not knowing how to do it the right way. It’s pretty obvious – if you get things wrong straight from the get-go, you can only expect problems down the line.
Most tanks have a central tube leading from the coil to the mouthpiece. That tube is called the chimney and if you accidentally (or on purpose) get vape juice in there, your tank will most certainly leak. This particular problem is called flooding. Once the coil is flooded, it will start to gurgle and steep vape juice deeper into the assembly, until it finally starts oozing out somewhere.
To avoid this, make sure to pour the vape juice into the tank by letting it slide down on the inside of the outer glass. Tip the tank a bit for easier filling and then slowly straighten it as it fills. Stop when three-quarters full and make sure to remove excess juice from the central tube if some of finds its way there (use a cotton swab or a piece of tissue).
2. Keep the Tank Vertical at All Times
Whenever you’re not using your vape, you should ensure that it’s left in an upright position. Some tanks are not designed to spend extended periods of time in a laid down. This has to do with juice holes on the coil. If a tank is half-empty, the juice will easily seep through those holes and find it’s way to the chimney or the airflow holes.
3. Tighten Everything After Refills
Although vape tanks were designed to be opened up and closed again on a pretty regular basis, that’s not to say that there won’t be issues stemming from a bad fit or cross-threading. Usually, when refilling (and replacing the coil), you will need to unscrew two things: a) the tank from the base, and b) the coil from the base/top cap.
There are plenty of opportunities for something to go wrong here. To make sure that nothing leak-worthy happens, take extra time when reassembling your tank. Ensure that the coil is tightly secured to the base (or the top-cap, if you have a top coil tank) and that all the parts fit snugly. To avoid cross-threading, just follow these simple steps:
Line everything up when preparing to screw it back together
Turn anticlockwise until you feel (or hear) it click in place
Slowly screw it in by turning clockwise
4. Avoid Over-Tightening
As bad as not tightening everything during reassembly is, over-tightening can actually cause even more issues and lead to leaking. That’s because every tank is fitted with o-rings – gaskets that are designed to prevent leaking.
These o-rings are made of rubber and are pretty delicate. Since they are located near threading (and anywhere two parts of the tank meet), they can easily get snagged. If they do, over-tightening can damage them. All it takes is a little break in the o-ring for vape juice to find it and start seeping out.
Tightening everything back is, as you can see, a delicate job – what’s too tight and what’s not tight enough? This will depend a lot on the tank in question, but, generally, you want to screw everything firmly, but not so firmly that you need to use brute force to unscrew it again. In a nutshell – tighten until you feel a bit of resistance then give it a final (gentle) turn.
5. Check and Replace O-Rings If Needed
It’s not only over-tightening that can damage the o-rings – they can also be damaged by vape juice or wear out after some time. That’s why it’s important to regularly check their condition (best when you’re cleaning your vape tank). If the o-rings are damaged, it will be easy to spot once you remove them from the tank. To remove them, you will need a small screwdriver or tweezers – anything that will help you pry them off the base/glass/threading, or wherever else they might be.
Also, o-rings don’t have to be damaged to cause a leak, they can simply be bent out of shape. Regularly check them for signs of damage or non-alignment. If they need to be replaced, you will find that most manufacturers include spares that should have arrived with your purchase. If they didn’t, you will have to order the right size or visit a vape shop. Fitting them back to the tank is not a problem and a new set of o-rings should clear up any issues you’ve had with leaking.
6. Use Coils That Fit Your Style of Vaping
There are two types of vapers out there – mouth to lung vapers and direct to lung vapers. It goes without saying that different types of coils are needed for each of these styles. M2L vaping requires high-resistance coils (over 1 ohm), which will generally have smaller juice holes. Pair that with a high PG vape juice, and you have M2L heaven. On the other hand, D2L vaping uses coils that have larger juice holes that were designed for high VG juices.
That’s where the problems start. If you want to use a predominantly PG vape juice (hence a thinner vape juice) with coils designed for D2L vaping, leaks will quickly follow. That’s because these coils will guzzle too much juice without being able to quickly vaporize it and the excess will end up flooding the chimney and seeping out of the tank.
Remember – use high PG vape juice only with M2L coils, that is, with coils that have smaller juice holes. Like that, you won’t have issues with leaking that can be traced back to the coil flooding because it’s not equipped to deal with that much vape juice in one go.
7. Close Airflow When Refilling
Ok, this one is a bit of an urban myth as I can’t find anything that proves that closing the airflow while refilling can prevent leaks. However, a bunch of people swear by it (and it worked for me in some cases, too), so I guess it doesn’t hurt to try it.
The general idea around closing the bottom airflow when refilling has to do with pressure and vacuum. If open, it will cause vape juice to be pulled into the airflow ring through the seams. Closing the airflow prevents that from happening. Some vapers even suggest turning the tank upside down when it’s full and briefly opening the airflow in that position before straightening it again.
Will this work? Maybe. Does it cost you anything to try it? Not really. If you’re having issues with a particularly troublesome and leaky tank, I would give this one a try, regardless of the fact that it might be nothing more than wishful thinking.
8. Take Slow and Soft Inhales
Depending on your inhalation style, you might be causing your tank to leak all by yourself. Most beginner vapers are not sure how to puff on an e-cigarette so they do it as they would on a regular one. Needless to say, vapes are pretty sensitive to how forcefully and quickly you inhale and you can’t treat them like analogs.
Quick and sharp inhales might be the norm with smoking, but will be a problem when you’re vaping. That’s because you might end up pulling more juice in the coil than can be vaporized at a given time. Of course, once that happens, the chimney will get flooded and the juice will start seeping out wherever it can.
Instead, try slow inhales because vapor will form regardless of how fast you puff. Longer draws are more flavorsome in any case, and you don’t risk flooding your coil that way.
9. Increase the Wattage
It’s pretty obvious by now that most leaking problems are caused by flooding the coil. One of the more common fixes for that is simply upping your wattage so your vape has more power to deal with stray vape juice. When you increase the wattage on your device, the coil heats up faster and vaporizers more e-juice with every puff.
This is not an ideal solution, however. Sometimes, more power means different flavor and can even result in dry hits. Still, it’s something that’s worth looking into if most of your vape leaks are caused by flooding.
10. Clean Your Vape Tank Regularly
A dirty vape tank will definitely be prone to all sorts of complications, including being much more likely to leak. The buildup of gunk from previous vape sessions can really affect all the parts inside – o-rings, airflow assembly, threading, and so on.
That’s why it’s important to clean a vape tank on a regular basis. Every week or so, just take it apart and give it a good rinse in warm water. Check all the parts and make sure to remove vape juice that builds up on everything, as well as small specks of dirt that will undoubtedly find their way in.
The ‘Leaky Vape Tank’ Problem Made Bearable
Implementing the solutions listed here will definitely make your leaky tank problem more bearable. However, it’s important to note that some tanks will never be leak-proof. All we can do is make sure that the issue is manageable.
Personally, my suggestion to all beginner vapers is to get a top-fill tank with a top airflow when starting out. I found that these tend to leak the least (saying that they don’t leak at all would be a flat out lie, unfortunately). After that, if you have any leakage problems, you will have to play with it until you find a solution that works for you. Hopefully, that solution will be on this list.
We can’t completely stop vape leaks but we can definitely fight them! Do you have a favorite solution for a leaky vape that I didn’t mention? Drop a comment below – I’m sure that there’s a frustrated vaper out there who will appreciate it!