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Common Coil Problems

31 January 2021

If you’re getting through e-cig coils (you may know them as an atomizer head or burner) faster than you think you should be, or you’re getting a burnt or bad taste, check our troubleshooting to see if you can resolve your problem.

There are a number or factors that affect the lifespan of a coil but expect anything from 1 to 3 weeks on average. This is a very general guide because it depends how much you vape and thicker, more viscous eliquid will clog up a coil much faster than a thin liquid.

PROBLEM - coil tastes bad or burnt (caused by not priming your coil)

The fastest way to ruin an ecig coil is to not ‘prime’ it or to not do so correctly.

Faulty coils are not common, however, burnt-tasting coils are common and the number one cause is in the priming process, or the lack of it rather.

Coils do not come from the factory tasting burnt.

If you don’t prime your coil properly it can be instantly ruined because that burnt taste probably isn’t going to go away, although you can try rinsing the coil through with water and tapping out the excess before you try and use it again.

See also our page about burnt coils.


So if you’re wondering how to ‘prime’, please click here for our article which will take you through it step by step, but it's very straight forward once you've done it a couple of times.

PROBLEM – coil tastes bad or burnt (caused by too much power)

Don’t subject a new coil to too high a voltage/wattage.

High voltage or wattage on a new coil may well make it ‘pop’ leading you to think you have a duff coil when you don’t.


Be aware that some coils are not rated very highly so you will need to subject them to even less power than you may think.

Increasingly the coils have their range written on them but if they don’t start low to be on the safe side.

On standard coils start at the lowest setting if you have a variable voltage battery and after approximately an hour of vaping you should be able to turn it up to your normal level.

On sub-Ohm coils, start at the lowest of its range (it should be written on the coil) and over the day you can turn it up to your desired level.

PROBLEM - coil tastes bad or burnt (caused by chain vaping)

Coils can easily burn out by chain vaping, ie, excessive vaping for a period of time.

e-Cig coils have not been designed to be fired continuously.

Chain vaping will significantly shorten a coil’s life.

Although most devices have a 10 second cut-off, ensure you turn your device off when it’s not in use (in your pocket for example). You could be firing in your pocket without realising!

If you get a burnt taste ensure it’s not because you're chain vaping.


Despite the urge to chain vape the only solution is to wait longer between puffs, around 20 seconds should be fine depending on the device but less or more time may be required.

PROBLEM - coil tastes bad or burnt (caused by liquid running low)

If you vape when the liquid in your tank is below the saturation holes in your coil, this can cause your coil to burn out and you may experience a burnt taste or a dry hit.


The liquid needs to cover the coil so ensure you keep your tank topped up and don’t let it run too low.

PROBLEM – clogged up coil

The more VG (vegetable glycerin) content in your eliquid, the thicker (more viscous) it will be, and some flavourings contain more sugar and they create additional viscosity.

In some instances the wicking material inside the coil may not saturate fast enough before the coil is being heated, so the coil is getting hot but there are dry parts inside the coil and this can and will burn, and when this happens both the performance and life of the coil is severely impeded. 

Not only will it not taste good, unhealthy chemicals are produced by burning coils, cotton coils in particular.


If you’re using a basic or standard ecig coil (ie a coil with a minimum resistance of say 1.5 ohm, so that will also include 1.8 ohm coils and 2.5 ohm coils etc), there is no requirement to use high VG liquids. These coils are ideally suited to a 70% PG / 30% VG mix.

PG stands for propylene glycol and it’s thinner than VG. Click here to see all our eliquids and PG/VG ratios.

Although VG is thicker than PG there are other things to bear in mind too. Some flavourings in the liquid have a high sugar content and can cause burning on the wick when heated too hot (actually it’s more like the sugar turning to caramel as it’s heated) which has the same effect as burning, and when the coil gets clogged up in this way it cannot saturate.

eLiquid with a high sugar content will reduce the life of coils compared to thinner and sugar-free liquids.

PROBLEM – leaking coil

Leaking around the area where the coil sits in the bottom of the tank is usually due to the O ring not being present or out of position, which means the coil isn’t sealed and the liquid can run past it and out through the bottom of the tank.

You may also experience liquid running out through the air holes.

As an aside, leaking can also be caused by excessive vaping and the coil and tank becoming sufficient hot that the liquid starts to exit because it cannot be vapourised fast enough.

See also our page about flooding and leaking and gurgling.


Check that the coil O ring is where it should be (check a new coil if you’re not sure) and check it seems tight, a bit like an elastic band.

Check you’ve screwed the coil in until it feels tightly snug (not too tight; not forced).

If you can’t find the problem and you have more than one battery or mod device check this isn’t just happening on the one device.

You can also try easing off (unscrewing your tank) just a little to see if that makes any difference.

Leaks can also be caused by very thin liquids (more PG than VG for example). If you’re using very low Ohm coils and thin eliquid (a 70/30 PG/VG for example), you are not using the high VG liquid that the sub-Ohm coils were designed to work with.

Our Guide to Vaping

We have lots of useful information, guidance and helpful tips regarding vaping, plus you'll be able to read about common problems (and solutions) ...

Learn More