Vape Pen Cartridge No Airflow? How to Fix a Clogged Cart

Area 52
August 23, 2021 | Blog

Going to take a hit on your vape and finding that your cartridge isn’t working can be frustrating, to say the least. 

If you’re struggling to inhale, something isn’t right — your vape is most likely clogged. 

Making matters worse, when a vape cart clogs, you might get a mouth full of vape juice and sticky hands instead of a silky smooth hit of delta 8 THC

Here, we’ll explain how this can happen and how to fix it. 

What Causes Vape Carts to Clog?

Two main factors contribute to clogged vape cartridges — condensation and chamber flooding.

Both causes can be prevented and resolved quite easily with the methods described below. 

1. Condensation Buildup 

The most common cause of a clogged cart is condensation buildup inside the cart’s airway. Over time, this condensation can block the mouthpiece, preventing vapor from passing through as you take a hit.

Instead of a tasty hit of delta 8 THC, you get a clogged mouthpiece and a mouth full of bitter vape juice. 

You’ll usually notice condensation buildup before it becomes too much of a problem. If you’ve ever felt tiny droplets of liquid hit your tongue as you take a hit, this is due to condensation buildup. 

Save yourself the future hassle and take action to unclog your cart as soon as you notice liquid hitting your tongue when inhaling.

2. Chamber Flooding 

The second cause of a clogged cart is due to chamber flooding. 

Chamber flooding occurs when vape carts sit around for a long time. Delta 8 THC distillate thickens at room temperature. Over time, the distillate works its way to the bottom of the cart, oversaturates the wick, and “drowns” the coil.

When this happens, the heating element (the coil) struggles to get up to temperature and vaporize the liquid effectively. 

You’ll notice this issue if your vape isn’t producing a thick enough vapor and isn’t hitting correctly. You might also get a fowl burnt taste and smell burning when you go to take a hit. 

If you notice a burning smell or taste, you should stop vaping immediately. Continuing to heat a saturated wick can lead to permanent damage, rendering the cart and its contents useless.

How to Prevent Your Vape Cart from Clogging

close up image of a vape cart and hemp bud

Prevention techniques differ for each problem, but implementing the following methods should reduce your chances of condensation buildup and chamber flooding. 

Use these techniques to improve your vaping experience, reduce frustration, and ensure you get the most out of each delta 8 THC vape cart. 

Preventing Condensation Buildup

Preventing condensation buildup is simple. However, you’ll need to get into a strict routine when using your vape to ensure you get the best results.

1. Take Smaller Hits

The first step starts with your usage. Keeping your hits under three seconds significantly reduces the chances of condensation buildup. Instead of taking fewer large hits, take smaller hits with rest times in between to allow the mouthpiece to clear effectively. 

Smaller hits on your vape reduce the time vapor sits in the mouthpiece. This decreases the chances of condensation buildup since the cooler mouthpiece isn’t exposed to warm moisture long enough to condensate. 

2. Take “Dry” Hits

The second step in preventing condensation buildup is to clear the mouthpiece before each hit. Take a “dry hit” on the cart before heating the coil to produce vapor. Pulling on the cart first — without firing it up — clears any moisture out before the vapor comes through.

Just be sure not to pull too hard on the cart while the vape isn’t fired up. Doing so can flood the chamber, saturating the wick.

3. Clean the Mouthpiece

The last prevention technique is to use a small cotton pad or Q-Tip to wipe the mouthpiece periodically. You don’t have to do this after every hit, but regularly doing this helps keep the cart clean and clog-free.

Preventing Chamber Flooding

Preventing chamber flooding relies on careful usage of your vape. When we look at the leading cause of chamber flooding (leaving a full cart inactive for long periods), we can see how to prevent it. Here are some simple steps to take to ensure your coil and wick stay saturation-free.

1. Hit the Vape Every Few Days

Avoid leaving your vape sitting around at room temperature for long periods with a cart full of delta 8 THC. Once you use the cart, try and hit the vape every day or two to ensure the chamber doesn’t have time to flood.

The longer a primed cart is left unused, the more likely it is for the wick and coil to become overly saturated.

2. Make Sure it isn’t Primed

Make sure the cart isn’t primed if you won’t hit it every few days or need to store it for an extended period. Don’t store a primed cart without use for longer than a week. Make sure it’s disconnected from the pen and left in a cool, dark place to avoid deterioration.

3. Take Smaller Hits

As with condensation buildup, the way you hit your vape is an important factor in reducing the chances of chamber flooding. Taking large, deep, and powerful hits on your vape cart can overwhelm the wick and coil. 

When you pull too hard on your vape, the coil may struggle to vaporize the liquid fast enough to be inhaled. This can cause the wick to become saturated and the coil to become flooded. Make sure to take quick, light hits rather than large, heavy hits.

4. Check for Leaks

Sometimes, your vape cart can become loose, leading to air leakage. The cart must be completely airtight to work effectively. A small leak can quickly flood the chamber, making sure your cart is tightened fully before use. This is especially important if you have a fillable cart.

If you’re using a refillable vape cartridge, incorrectly filling it can lead to chamber flooding. If your tank has an open center tube, make sure you don’t spill any vape juice inside. This will instantly lead to a flooded chamber. 

Over priming your wick can also lead to chamber flooding. Before using a new vape cart, saturate the wick first by pulling the vape juice through without firing it.

If you don’t pull enough liquid, you’ll burn the wick; if you pull through too much, you’ll flood the chamber.  

5. Store Your Vape In an Upright Position

This is especially important if you plan to store your vape for extended periods of time. If left upside down, the contents of the reservoir could slowly leak down into the element — clogging up the device. 

By storing the pen in an upright position with the mouthpiece on top, you can prevent this from happening entirely. 

How to Fix a Clogged Vape Cart: Step-By-Step

Hemp leaf and dried buds with Delta 8 THC Vape Pen

If you’re here because you’ve already clogged your vape cart, don’t worry. It’s not the end of the world, and with our handy step-by-step troubleshooting guide, you’ll be vaping away as usual in just a few minutes. 

Method #1: How to Fix Minor Clogging (Condensation Buildup)

Step One: Pull Hard Through the Mouthpiece

The first step to unclogging a cart with too much condensation buildup is to pull hard through the mouthpiece without firing up the vape. 

Usually, this pulls through the excess liquid sitting in the mouthpiece. Although this is a quick fix, the cart will likely clog up again unless you implement step two.

Step Two: Remove All Excess Liquid

To clear the cart completely, you’ll need to remove all excess liquid from the mouthpiece. You can do this by using a thin piece of wire, a pin, or a paper clip.

Gently insert the wire or other object into the mouthpiece and scrape out the sticky residues by moving it side to side and up and down; be careful not to scratch the inside of the cart. You should remove most of the buildup this way as delta 8 THC is thick, dense, and stringy.

It’s best to do this while the cart is cool, so the liquid has a high viscosity.

Step Three: Dislodge Trapped Residues

The third and final step should help if you didn’t remove the clog completely using a thin object. It involves heating the cart to dislodge any trapped residues in the mouthpiece.

Don’t heat the cart with a naked flame. Instead, you can use the gentle heat of a hairdryer or place the cart in a water-tight bag and submerge it in a warm water bath. Once you’ve sufficiently heated the cart, let it stand upright, so the excess liquid settles once again.

Heating the cart lowers the viscosity of the vape liquid, causing it to run off the walls of the mouthpiece and back into the chamber.

Method #2: How to Fix a Major Cart Clog (Flooded Chamber)

Step One: Flick the Cart From Side to Side

The first step to fixing a flooded chamber is to flick the cart from side to side. This will help dislodge any excess liquid and disperse it evenly. 

Step Two: Blow into the Cart

After step one, blow through the cart to clear liquid out of the wick and off the coil. If you have a refillable cart, remove the chamber, clear the excess liquid from the coil, and wick manually before reassembling it. 

Note: only blow through the chamber to clear the flood. Never pull it through by inhalation, as this will saturate the wick further and worsen the problem.

Step Three: Fire Up the Vape

Once you’ve cleared out as much liquid as possible by blowing out the excess liquid, you can fire up the vape without inhaling. It’s important not to overdo this, but one to two seconds on the button should be enough to vaporize the excess liquid without burning the wick.

This should be enough to clear the flooded chamber. If you’re still experiencing problems, it may be time to purchase a new cartridge or a replacement coil and wick if your tank is refillable.

Final Thoughts: Avoiding Clogged Vapes

Clogged vapes are a common issue. While there are ways to avoid it entirely (such as keeping your vape in the upright position while not using and giving the vape a final blast of heat before you put it away), it’s easy to forget one of these steps experience some clogging. 

Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to fix vape clogging. 

The ingredients in the device are thick and sticky while cool, but they become runny again with just a little bit of heat. This means you can easily clear the vape by blowing into it or giving it a couple of quick blasts on the heat to melt the contents clogging the airway. 

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