Why Is My Vape Pen Not Working?

Scott Jones

It doesn’t take much more than that first puff to see the appeal of vape pens. The ease of use, the discreet nature, the clean but visceral satisfaction. These are all excellent reasons to choose a vape as your go to method for getting cannabinoids delivered to your bloodstream. But what if something goes wrong? What if when you go for that first pull, all you get is air? What if your vape pen isn’t charging? What if your vape pen isn’t working after a charge? There are some pretty common problems that can pop up with vapes and usually it doesn’t mean that your vape pen is done and dusted, ready to be consigned to the garbage bin. More often than not, some simple troubleshooting can solve whatever problem has popped up with your pen. In this article, I will walk you through some of the most common issues you are likely to run into with your vape pen, and what you can do to resolve them and get back to puffing. 

Vape Pens vs. Vape Carts

  • Vape pens are all in one smoking devices.  They come fully charged and ready to use and are meant to be thrown away once the liquid is gone.  
  • Vape cartridges are normally sold separate from the battery (heating element).  These need to be attached to the battery before use.  Cartridges are also intended for one time use and once separated from the battery can be thrown away.  

Different Kinds of Vape Pens

The first step in identifying what has gone wrong with your vape pen is going to be identifying exactly what kind of vape pen you are dealing with. I’m talking about the hardware of the vape pen, not the different types of cannabinoids you can find to vape, which are numerous. There are a lot of different kinds of vape pens available, so we’ll go over the most common types you’ll see on the market.

Disposable Vape Pens

These are the simplest kinds of pens you’re going to find. They come pre-charged and loaded with the cannabinoid liquid concentrate of your choice. They tend to operate in one of two ways, pull-to-draw or push-button, and both operate exactly how they sound. With a pull-to-draw disposable vape pen, the battery is activated when the user inhales from the mouthpiece. A push-button disposable vape pen has a button that activates the battery which then heats the atomizer. Disposable vape pens are self-contained units and once the available cannabinoid liquid is used up, it can’t be refilled, and you simply throw it away.

Rechargeable Vape Pens

There is more variety to rechargeable vape pens than with disposables and some of them have a wide range of features. Let’s go over the most common types of rechargeable vape pens. 

  • Fixed voltage – The most basic, and most common type of vape pen is the fixed voltage vape pen. These can be either pull-to-draw or push button, but they operate on a single, consistent voltage level that is fed from the battery to the coil and atomizer.
  • Variable voltage – Variable voltage vape pens offer a more customizable vape experience. They allow the user to raise or lower the voltage that is distributed from the battery. Altering the voltage can affect the intensity of the flavor, the density of the vapor, and the feel when it hits the throat and lungs. If you have a variable voltage vape but aren’t sure what voltage is best for you, you can read our helpful article here.
  • Variable temperature – Variable temperature pens are like variable voltage pens, but rather than set a desired voltage, the user decides on a temperature they want the vaporizer to atomize at. The vaporizer then modifies the voltage output from the battery so that the vape operates at the temperature the user has chosen.

How Does My Vape Pen Work?

Now you’ve identified the kind of vape pen that you’re working with, but the problem is that it’s still not working. So, the next step in solving the problem is understanding how the vape pen is supposed to work when everything is going right. I’m certainly no engineer, but when you boil it down, a vape pen is a fairly simple apparatus. You can really break it down into three parts.

  • Battery – Cannabinoids like THC need to be decarboxylated before they do what you want them to. You can learn more about that here, but that’s a fancy way of saying you need to apply heat. The battery is the source of energy in a vape pen that applies this heat.
  • Atomizer – The energy that the battery supplies goes to the atomizer, which is typically made up of a sub-ohm coil. Sub-ohm means that the resistance of the coil is less than one omega. The less resistance from the coil, the less voltage needed from the battery. The coil takes energy from the battery, heats up, and atomizes the liquid.
  • Liquid cannabinoid concentrate – The last element of your vape pen is the liquid that is going to be turned into vapor. Usually this is an oil or resin that has been made by concentrating one or many cannabinoids. If you’re interested in learning more about how resins are made, you can read all about it here. As mentioned before, in a disposable vape pen, this liquid is pre-loaded in the self-contained unit of the vape. If you are using a rechargeable vape pen, the liquid typically comes in a cartridge that connects to the vape through what is known as a 510 connection pin. 

The highlighted information isn’t completely accurate and could be confusing for customers.  Most vape pens are a single device and 510 thread often refers to carts/battery combos. 

Common Problems with Vape Pens

Alright, let’s get down to business. There are a variety of things that can go wrong when it comes to a vape pen not working. Most of them are simple to identify and equally as simple to resolve. These are the most common issues that are likely to pop up with your pen and how you can fix them. 

Oil Has Settled in the Pen/Cartridge

Because of the different levels of viscosity of cannabinoid concentrates, the oil tends to be thick and can sometimes settle in a way that can hinder airflow or cause the coil to overheat. This is the most common vape pen problem, and particularly an issue when the oil gets too cold. Which means the solution is pretty simple, you just have to apply heat. PLEASE DO NOT HOLD A FLAME TO YOUR VAPE. Not only is it dangerous, an open flame from a lighter can crack the cartridge and may also compromise the cannabinoids you want to vape. If the oil in your cartridge has settled, the best solution is to hit with a blow dryer. The heat will loosen up the oil and allow it to settle at the bottom of the cartridge. If you don’t have a hair dryer handy, you can warm the oil between your palms, or even apply steam. Just make sure the cartridge is fully dried before reconnecting it to the battery. After applying heat, it would be helpful to try to take a few short, hard puffs to help get it working.

Battery Is Not Working

If it seems like your battery is not working, the first thing you want to do is charge it. I know, I know, you charged it already. But sometimes the cable doesn’t connect right, or the outlet can trip, so just try to charge it again. There should be an indicator light that will let you know it’s charging. If the indicator light does not turn on or blinks, this would be an indication that the vape oil has settled, preventing airflow.  If you’re positive the battery is charged and you still aren’t getting power to your atomizer, you’re going to want to check and clean the connection point. Sometimes debris or excess oil can hinder the battery from connecting to the atomizer. The best way to clean the connection point is with rubbing alcohol applied with a q-tip or cotton swab. Once again, you want to make sure everything is fully dry before reassembling the pen. 

Atomizer Is Not Working

If your battery is charged and your atomizer still isn’t working, there are a few things that could be causing the issue. Let’s look at the most common causes.

  • Debris at the contact point – More often than not, this is going to be your issue. If you clean your connection point of any excess oil or debris, you’re likely going to resolve the problem and the best way to do this is with rubbing alcohol and a q-tip.
  • Over-tightening – I mentioned earlier that almost all vape pens have a 510 connection pin. If you screw your cartridge in too tight, you can damage some of the elements of that connection. Over-tightening can damage the rubber gaskets that set the distance between a cartridge and the connection point. Also, if a cartridge is too tight, you can also dislocate the center pin which establishes the connection between the battery and the coil.
  • Shorting – One of the rarer issues is that your vape pen’s coil can touch the side wall causing the circuit to short. If you can see that the coil is touching the side wall, simply move it towards the center with a small tool like a precision screwdriver or even tweezers.

Vape Flavor Tastes Burnt

A burnt or dry flavor when you hit your vape pen usually means that the oil is not settled near the coil, and so the coil is just heating the part of the cartridge known as the wick. Like a candle, a vape cartridge has a wick that absorbs the oil and is then exposed to the heat. If you’re getting a burnt flavor, make sure your oil hasn’t settled to one side. If it has, try the hair dryer method and store it upright. 

Liquid Is Leaking into the Mouthpiece

If fluid is leaking into the mouthpiece of your vape pen, this is almost certainly caused by storing the pen/cartridge horizontally. Ideally, you want your cartridge to rest in a way that lets the liquid settle at the bottom because this is where the coil is located. If your liquid is settled at the bottom of the chamber and you’re still getting some in the mouthpiece, try raising the voltage or temperature. It may be caused by liquid not receiving enough heat to atomize. 

Pen/Cartridge Mouthpiece Clogged

Vape pens tend to spend a lot of time in pockets, and pockets tend to be the home for a fair amount of lint. That means sometimes, the airflow holes of your vape pen cartridge can get clogged. A good way to unclog a cartridge air hole is to use something like a small pin or an unfolded paperclip.

Pen/Battery Overheated

When choosing a charger for your pen or battery, you need to be aware if you're using a high voltage charger, meaning ones meant for cell phones or laptops. You can either keep an eye on your device while charging and don't charge anymore than you have to or you can purchase a charger that is meant for vape pens and batteries.

Ready For Action

We did it! Your vape pen is fixed and you’re back in business. Now you just need to arm it with your favorite cannabinoid. You’re in luck, The Green Dragon has everything you need, from disposable vapes to rechargeable vapes and cartridges. Please feel free to browse our products and if you have any questions about what’s best for you, let us know! We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below this article or drop us a line through our contact page. 

Why Is My Vape Pen Not Working?
There are some pretty common problems that can pop up with vapes and usually it doesn’t mean that your vape pen is done. Read here to troubleshoot your pen.
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Why Is My Vape Pen Not Working?
February 2, 2024
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