The atomizer is arguably the most important part of the vaping experience, since it is the component that produces the vapor. Simply by using a different atomizer, you can optimize your vaping setup for bigger clouds, richer flavor or conservation of e-liquid. No atomizer lasts forever, though. An atomizer can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks, after which time you need to replace it to continue getting the best experience. Atomizers can be a bit costly, though — usually around $10-14 per five-pack for pre-built atomizer coils. If you build your own atomizer coils, the materials are cheap but the time isn’t. Either way, you want to continue using your atomizers as long as you can. In this guide, we’ll help you figure out when it’s time to replace your atomizer by learning to recognize the common signs of atomizer failure.

Atomizer Failure Happens Slowly

In most cases, an e-cigarette atomizer fails gradually before it needs to be replaced. The heating coil doesn’t work as it once did, causing gurgling noises, off flavors, poor vapor production and all-around unresponsiveness. Because atomizer failure tends to come on slowly, you may not notice that your e-cigarette has a problem and may simply believe that your e-cigarette isn’t as satisfying as it used to be. If you aren’t enjoying the e-smoking experience as much as you used to, that’s the first indication that it might be time to replace the atomizer.

Sign #1: Your Atomizer Leaks Juice

During your e-smoking experience, you might notice that your e-cigarette squirts juice into your mouth after you add just a few drops to it. You might try to solve this by blowing on it several times, yet the problem seems to persist. As it turns out, you may not have flooded the atomizer as you initially thought. This is a sign that your atomizer isn’t heating up nearly as fast as it should be, which allows the e-liquid to make its way onto your tongue.

Sign #2: A Symphony of Gurgling Noises

You’ll begin to notice a pattern with most of the signs of atomizer failure we list here. Each one could easily be mistaken for something else. Gurgling noises are no exception. They’re a telltale sign that you’ve flooded your e-cigarette’s atomizer, but they can also be a sign that your atomizer is on its way out.

We’ve found that this is an easy mistake to make because you begin to drift into a rhythm after dripping for a while. It doesn’t matter if it’s just one puff or twelve, your atomizer ends up being unable to keep up with your demand. When that happens, your atomizer isn’t heating up fast enough to vaporize all the e-liquid, which in turn results in a flooded atomizer. That’s when you know you need to replace it.

Sign #3: Poor Vapor Production

As you use your e-cigarette, you may not notice that the amount of vapor it produces is gradually becoming less with each passing day. Depending on how often you e-smoke and how much of a rhythm you have when you do e-smoke, you may not notice that your e-cigarette produces less vapor until you notice that your e-cigarette just doesn’t satisfy you the same way as it did before. Although you should always be mindful of your nicotine intake to avoid tolerance, it’s more likely that your atomizer is failing. If you notice that it doesn’t perform as well as it used to, then that’s just another sign that it may be time to replace it.

Sign #4: No Vapor At All

When you press the button or draw from your automatic e-cigarette only to find out that it does nothing, you generally think that you flooded your atomizer. You can blow out your atomizer and try again to see that your e-cigarette still works without replacing your battery or any other parts, but this is a sign that your atomizer may be going bad.

You can use any one of the previous three signs in tandem with this one to confirm that you need to replace your e-cigarette atomizer. The most common sign that accompanies your e-cigarette failing to start due to atomizer failure is a decrease in the quality of your vapor.