Common Vape Pen Problems: What to Do When Your Vape Pen Isn’t Working

oil cartridges and cannabis vape pens

When they’re working, vape pens are discreet and effective delivery systems for cannabis products. Occasionally, vapes have minor problems that result in weak draws, clogs, inactive batteries and beyond. When your vape pen isn’t working properly,  it can be hard to troubleshoot. Here are ways to figure out what’s wrong with your faulty vape pen, and some easy fixes.

Why is My Vape Pen Not Working?

There are several reasons why your vape pen may not be working properly. Some of these causes are easy fixes, such as oil setting and getting stuck in your cartridge. Others are more technical, like a battery, atomizer or coil issue. Most of the time, your vape pen isn’t actually broken. More often than not, once you identify the issue with your vape pen, you’ll be able to troubleshoot.

Common Vape Pen Problems

Oil settling in vape cartridges

Cannabis oil has high viscosity and the concentrate may become stiff. When cannabis oil is cold or settled to one side of the cartridge, it may fail to flow correctly. To fix this, apply heat to the cart. Heating up the cart lowers the viscosity of the cannabis oil, which allows it to flow when you pull.

The hairdryer cart-heating method

A common solution for freeing up your settled cannabis oil involves using a hairdryer to heat the cart. Separate the cart from the battery and set the cart upright. On its low setting, hold a hairdryer about six inches away from the cart. Apply heat for about 30 seconds. When you see bubbles forming, let the cart sit for a few seconds. Then reconnect the cart and take a pull. If your airflow is still obstructed, repeat the process again.

The steam cart-heating method

If you don’t have a hairdryer on hand, there are other ways to loosen up your cannabis oil. Heat a pot of water on a stovetop, until steam is produced. Then hold your vape pen over the steam for 20 seconds. This should result in the same effect as the hairdryer method, with your cannabis oil becoming less viscous.

Vape pen battery not working

Before troubleshooting vape pen battery issues, it’s important to know what kind of battery your vape pen uses. If your vape has a pull-to-draw battery, the battery is always “on.” Pull-to-draw batteries remain “on” until they die, and you recharge it using its USB port.

Other vape pens use batteries with push-button atomizer activation. To turn these pens on, you’ll need to push the battery button five times quickly and hold the button down when you pull.

If you’re using your vape pen’s battery correctly but it’s not working, inspect the battery’s contact point for damage or residue, like excess oil. If it seems clogged, clean it with rubbing alcohol and let it dry before reconnecting it to the cart.

Vape pen atomizer not working

If your atomizer (heating element) is having problems, or you’re seeing an atomizer error message on your mod, it can be due to a number of reasons. 

  • Check for debris: Before diving into technicalities with your atomizer, check for debris. Wipe down the pen with a damp cloth.
  • Over-tightening: A common cause of atomizer problems is over-tightening. If you tighten the atomizer with too much force, it can sever the connection with the device. If the connection is intact but it still isn’t working, there may be an issue with the center pin (510 connector). 
  • Chipset problems: Another culprit may be the chipset, an electronic part that controls features like wattage, temperature, and other variables. If the chipset is broken, you’ll need to replace it.
  • Shorting issues: If your coil is coming in contact with the sides of the tank, it may be shorting your coil. Make sure your atomizer is situated in the center, without touching the sides, and adjust it if it’s not.

Burnt or “off” flavors from a vape pen

Sometimes when you vape, you’ll experience a “dry hit” or a burnt one. A dry hit is a sign that the coil’s wick is drying up. When the atomizer starts burning the wick instead of vaporizing the cannabis oil, it creates a burnt flavor. Once the wick has been burnt, you can’t reverse the damage and you’ll need to replace the coil.

To avoid burning your cannabis oil and damaging your coil, use a lower wattage and a lower temperature setting on your vape pen. Using a higher setting can result in the atomizer vaporizing the oil too fast, and burning the wick. Additionally, taking shorter pulls reduces the heat exposure. If you take large draws, you’re more likely to burn your oil. 

Let your vape pen rest between hits to allow the wick to re-saturate with oil. Getting into the habit of cleaning your coil, as well as priming new coils, is another way to extend the lifespan of your coil while avoiding burnt wicks.

Over-tightening vape pen threading

Over-tightening your vape pen can sever the connection between the battery and the cartridge. The 510 connection pin on the vape pen needs to connect with the cart to work. If you tighten the vape pen too hard, it can damage this important connection.

Over-tightening can also break the rubber O-rings that seal the threading. Breaking these O-rings can cause the oil to become leaky and drip out.

Fluid leaking into the vape pen mouthpiece

If your vape pen is leaking, it may be caused by over-tightening. Other possible causes include leaving your vape pen lying on its side, instead of storing it upright. Storing your vape sideways or upside down when not in use can cause oil to leak into the vaporization chamber. When you go to take a pull, the atomizer can’t vaporize quickly enough to match the amount of oil present. This results in the excess oil being drawn into your mouth.

Other factors to watch out for to avoid leakage include how you fill your cart. If you accidentally get oil into the central tube when refilling, leakage can occur. To avoid this, fill up at a 45 degree angle. Additionally, avoid overfilling the tank with oil. Leave a bubble of air at the top of your cart, as it helps create a vacuum.

If you’re still experiencing a leaky pen, you might consider choosing a higher voltage and temperature setting. Raising the power means the atomizer can vaporize more oil for each pull, avoiding an oversaturated coil.

Oil amounts appear low in cartridges

Sometimes when you purchase a vape cartridge, the oil level looks much lower than you thought it would be. If your oil level looks low, it could mean your oil has settled on one side. To resolve this problem, apply heat to the sides of the cart with a hair dryer method mentioned above and check to see if the oil level appears higher than it was. 

Other problems with vape pen cartridges

If your vape pen seems to be in good condition but doesn’t work when you pull, it’s possible your airflow may be compromised due to a clogged cart. In order to unclog your cart, check to see if your vape pen’s airflow holes are open. If you see that the airflow holes are blocked, you’ll need to clean out any debris present.

If there isn’t residue but the holes are still blocked, it may be the way the device is constructed that’s preventing the airflow. Try reconstructing the vape pen in a way that lets the airflow holes go unobstructed. 

Need More Assistance with Your Vape Pen?

If you’ve exhausted this list of troubleshooting options for your vape pen and are still experiencing issues, please visit Happy Valley’s knowledgeable staff in Gloucester or East Boston

For more information on the cannabis industry, and access to premium cannabis resources and products, visit Happy Valley online or download the Happy Valley Insider App.

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