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Ask a Bud: Troubleshooting Your Vape

By May 17, 2022January 4th, 2023No Comments

Vaping is a convenient way to enjoy your favourite cannabis, but a clogged pen can really ruin a session if you don’t know how to fix it. We asked Nathan Plichta, Budtender at West End Cannabis Co., to share answers to some of his customers’ most frequently asked troubleshooting questions about vapes.

For customers who are still experimenting with vapes, running into problems with new equipment can feel especially frustrating. Customers might be inclined to assume the cartridge is broken, toss it and buy a new one. But that’s where a great budtender comes in, offering solutions that go beyond just making a sale and ensuring the customer leaves with the education they need to make their experience better.  We know you’re probably getting asked a lot of troubleshooting questions about vapes, so we made a list of some of the most common ones. Then we reached out to Nathan Plichta at West Side Cannabis Co., the only cannabis store in Red Lake, Ont., for tips on how he tackles these questions.

Why can’t I pull air through the cart?

“This is one of the most common headaches,” says Plichta, “as even the highest quality carts will clog eventually.” He recommends a few fixes. The first is to warm up the distillate slowly to make it more viscous and easier to remove. “You can also ‘pulse’ the power button, by pressing and releasing it repeatedly, warming the distillate gradually,” he explains. “If your device doesn’t have this feature, or a power button, the cart can be removed and warmed up by holding it in your hand for a few minutes or placing it in a waterproof bag and submerging it in hot water.” You should also ensure that no vents are blocked when inhaling and the silicone covers for both the mouthpiece and the vent have been removed before initial use.

Nathan explains that if the clogged device is considered auto draw, it will only heat up when air is pulled through. In that case, some mild surgery is needed. “A low-tech solution for clogging is to carefully insert and remove a sewing needle into the mouthpiece of the cart. It’s simple, but it works!”

The device won’t turn on at all.

“Nine times out of ten, this is just operator error. Any vape device I’ve come across requires you to press the power button five times quickly to turn it on.” If you’re making the right motions and it still isn’t working, Plichta says to make sure the device isn’t out of batteries or able to keep a charge at all. And it’s always a good idea to contact the manufacturer if the device still won’t turn on.

My vape device charges, so why won’t it produce vapour?

“Make sure the cart is threaded in properly and a good connection is being made. In some rare cases, the connector on the bottom of your cart can get pushed in and won’t make contact.” Make sure the vape is turned off and gently unscrew the cartridge from the base or battery. Carefully clean the threading on the cartridge and within the battery of any debris and residue. An important tip to remember: Don’t apply too much pressure when cleaning, and when you screw the cartridge back on the base, do not overtighten it.

Why are my vape carts leaky and gooey?

“This can happen for a few reasons. It’s rare, but some cartridges will be a bit sticky right out of the package. It can be wiped clean easily and still enjoyed.” However, it’s also possible for a cartridge to be left in the heat or cold and to get leaky that way. “You sure don’t want to forget them in your vehicle. A hot summer day will turn your live resin into a fun sticky cleanup project right quick,” Plichta says. “More often than not, however, a leaky cart is a sign of a manufacturing defect.” In that case, you can contact the OCS directly about the issue. Once the OCS receives the claim, they will file a formal quality assurance investigation with the Licensed Producer, communicate the incident reference number to the customer, and outline the next steps within the process to both customer and producer.

What should I consider when purchasing and maintaining vapes?

Plichta says that like most things in life, people get what they pay for when it comes to vaping. An inexpensive pen will probably work great for a weekend camping trip or concert, but if vaping is your preferred method of consumption, a little investment goes a long way. That goes for investments of time, too. “One last little tip I can offer is to get in the habit of storing your carts properly. A cart should be stored upright to ensure the distillate is evenly distributed over the coil. An improperly stored cart could very well deliver a burnt or dry hit. When not in use, it’s best to disconnect cartridges from batteries and store them at room temperature in a dry location (see product label for any specific storage instructions) to avoid damage to the product. If your device has a charging port on the bottom, we recommend removing the cart first and storing it upright before charging your device.”

A Little Budtender-to-Budtender Advice

Nathan Plichta has a few recommendations for fellow budtenders. “We learn everything we can about our products,” he says, “because you have to have an answer to any possible question, and a lot of customers are still apprehensive about cannabis, so we try to take the fear and mystery out of it.” When it comes to vaping, the first mystery new customers may face is turning the device on. Like a lot of tech, it isn’t as intuitive as you might think. Offer to show customers how to turn their vape on before they leave the store. Ask if they’ve considered matching vape carts with the same branded battery for an optimal experience. And ensure they’re clear when they’re buying a product that requires a specific accessory. With vapes, it’s especially important to encourage your customers to follow the manufacturer’s guidance for product-specific advice on storage and use. One last thing: If you need to submit a quality assurance claim, please refer to this article on the Wholesale Learn site.

Are you a sought-out budtender with answers at the ready for all your customers’ questions? Want to be featured in an upcoming Ask a Bud article or video? We’d love to hear from you. Learn how to apply for our next content call here.