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Why Is My Vape Tank Leaking?

March 22, 2020 6 min read

E-liquid is a very expensive commodity. That fact only adds insult to injury when you wake up in the morning to find your vaping device resting in a pool of its own vape juice or look at your pocket and see that your vape tank has leaked down your pants leg. Vape tanks might be full of holes for airflow and wicking, but miraculously, they manage to hold several milliliters of e-liquid without leaking – most of the time, at least. When they don’t hold their e-liquid, though, things can get pretty messy.

Vape Tank Leaking

So, why is your vape tank leaking? The good news is that most of the problems leading to a leaky vape tank aren’t actually that difficult to solve. If you’ve been using the same tank for more than a year or two, though, we suggest that your best bet is simply to upgrade to a more modern tank. Every new generation of vape tanks is better than the last, with superior vapor production and better leak resistance. If you’re already using a current-generation tank, though, it’s time for a little troubleshooting. Let’s fix your leaky vape tank.

Tank Is Assembled Incorrectly or Has Worn Seals

One of the reasons why vape tanks are usually so good at holding e-liquid is because their reservoirs are tightly sealed by metal threading and rubber or silicone gaskets. Those design elements create a seal that allows the tank to maintain an internal vacuum. If there’s no seal, there’s no vacuum – and that causes e-liquid to begin seeping out through the tank’s coil housing and air intake vents. So, when you have a leaking vape tank, the first thing you should do is disassemble the tank and give it a good inspection. After disassembling the tank, rinse and dry the components to keep e-liquid off of your hands. Then, it’s time for a closer look.

  • Does the tank’s glass enclosure have any cracks or chips? Damage to the glass will prevent the tank from forming a proper vacuum. Replace the glass.
  • Are any of the silicone seals torn or stretched out of place? Replace them with new seals from the tank’s spare parts bag.

Incorrect assembly is another common cause of leaking vape tanks. If you find no damaged components after disassembling your tank, it’s possible that the tank was leaking because it was unable to maintain a proper seal due to an assembly issue. If you reassemble the tank properly, the problem may disappear. When you screw the tank back together, turn the threads slowly and carefully to avoid cross threading. If you feel resistance when turning the tank’s components, the threads are probably crossed. Back them up and try again. If you try to force the threads together, you could damage the tank permanently and prevent it from ever forming a reliable seal.

Lastly, it’s important to remember that, when you reassemble a tank, you should twist it together just until the components no longer turn easily. If you over-tighten a tank, you could warp the seals out of place.

Vaping Device Is Being Stored on Its Side

Many vape tanks can’t maintain airtight seals during long-term storage unless they’re stored upright – so if you won’t be using your vaping device for several hours, you should avoid storing it on its side during that time.

Here’s why you should keep your tank upright when you aren’t using it.

A Tank With Top Airflow Can Leak Through the Airflow Vents

Some vape tanks have their airflow vents at the top rather than the bottom. Top airflow keeps a tank’s noise level low during operation, and it also helps to prevent leaking because a tank with top airflow usually has a sealed bottom. The leak protection only works, though, if the tank is stored upright. A tank with top airflow has long air channels leading from the intake vents to the atomizer coil. Inevitably, e-liquid will find its way into those vents. If the tank is stored upright, the e-liquid will run back down to the coil where it can be reclaimed. If the tank is stored on its side, though, it’ll leak.

A Tank With Bottom Airflow Can Leak Because the Vacuum Breaks

Most vape tanks are designed to let air in through the bottom, so a tank of that type should be fine if it’s left on its side – right? Actually, a tank with bottom airflow can also leak if it isn’t stored upright. You can see why by simply looking at the tank while holding your vaping device sideways. Are the tank’s wick holes still covered with e-liquid? Most likely, some of the holes are covered, but some of the holes are exposed to air. That leads to air exchange between the tank’s reservoir and the outside environment, which eventually breaks the tank’s internal vacuum and causes e-liquid to seep through the coil housing and out the airflow vents.

E-Liquid Is Leaking Through a Faulty Coil Assembly

The coil assembly is the most important part of any vape tank – not just because it’s the component that generates vapor, but also because it regulates the flow of air and e-liquid in the tank. The Chinese factories that make vape coils are exceptionally good at what they do. The pump out thousands and thousands of coils every day, and those coils usually come out perfectly consistent in quality. Occasionally, though, you may encounter a coil with a manufacturing defect. Defective vape coils are rare, but they do happen. If you’ve tried the other tips in this article unsuccessfully, your problem could be as simple as a faulty coil; try replacing it with a new one.

When you install your coils, you should take care – just as you do with the tank’s other components – to avoid cross-threading or over-tightening them. A coil with crossed threads or warped seals will almost certainly cause a leak.

E-Liquid Is Too Thin

Most full-sized vape tanks are designed to work with fairly thick e-liquids because thicker e-liquids produce thicker vapor clouds. An e-liquid’s thickness varies depending on the amount of vegetable glycerin (VG) and propylene glycol (PG) it contains. That’s why most e-liquid bottles have their VG/PG ratios printed on their labels. Vape juice makers provide that information so you can have the vaping experience that you want and so you can buy e-liquid that’ll work well with your tank.

Here’s the good news: Most people never need to think about VG/PG ratios at all when buying vape juice. Most of the vape tanks on the market have virtually the same requirements for e-liquid thickness, which is to say that almost all tanks work well with a VG/PG ratio of about 50/50. That’s the most common VG/PG ratio that you’ll find when buying e-liquid, so most of the e-liquid that you buy will work fine with the tank that you own.

There is, however, one exception that can lead to a leaky vape tank. If your first vaping device was a small, refillable vape pen, it’s likely that the maker of that device sold very thin e-liquids containing little or no VG. Maybe you even found a favorite e-liquid flavor that you wanted to continue using after you upgraded to a larger and more powerful vaping device.

The problem, though, is that modern vape tanks aren’t designed to accommodate thin e-liquids. If you’re using a modern tank, the coil assembly has large wick holes to provide a good experience with thick e-liquids. Thin e-liquids, on the other hand, will soak right through those large wick holes and leak out the bottom of the tank. If you own a large vape tank, you need to use an e-liquid with some VG.

Tank Is Leaking Due to Air Pressure Changes

The final thing to look out for when troubleshooting a leaking vape tank is a change in the surrounding environment. In particular, a rapid increase in elevation is likely to make your tank leak. That’s because the air in the tank expands. The air pushes on the e-liquid, forcing it through the tank’s coil assembly and out the bottom airflow vents. So, if you’re about to drive through the mountains, prepare yourself; you’re probably going to have to deal with a leaking vape tank.

What can you do to prevent your vape tank from leaking if you’re going to be driving at altitude? One way is by emptying your tank before you drive and filling it when you reach the highest elevation of your trip. Your tank won’t leak on the way down; it’ll only leak on the way up.

Alternatively, you can travel with a half-empty tank. That leaves a bit of room in the tank for the expanding air, which can help to minimize leaking. If you use your vaping device periodically while ascending, it’ll help to maintain equilibrium in the tank and keep the e-liquid where it belongs. Your best bet, though, is to fill the tank when you’ve reached the top of your ascent.


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