Despite the fact that I'm always singing the vaping's praises, it must be said that there are more obstacles with vapes than there are with cigarettes.
If your cigarette isn't wet and your lighter works, you can smoke. When it comes to a vape mod, you can run into a number of problems, from something as simple as a coil resistance that's too low for the device, to issues that are more technical, such as a burnt taste when you vape or a flooded coil.
When you press the fire button on your device, you may see a "No atomizer" or "Check atomizer" message. Having a tank attached, full of juice, ready to go but refusing to work can be frustrating.
It's likely just a matter of checking your tank's connections and cleaning around the contact points that fix the "No atomizer" / "Check atomizer" issue. This is what you need to know to get your device working again.
What does “No Atomizer” or “Check Atomizer” Mean?
A "No atomizer" or "Check atomizer" message means your mod does not think your tank - or more specifically, your coil or atomizer head - is connected to the connection point. When you fire a mod without anything attached, you'll see the same message. If your tank or atomizer appears to be connected, it really just means that there is something blocking it from connecting.
It might seem strange at first, especially if you were vaping without problems before it appeared. However, connection issues can develop over time even if you don't physically move or change anything on your setup - although it is less likely to occur this way, it still happens quite often. When you refill your tank, you may move the atomizer head slightly, and this can eventually cause a disconnect.
Solving the Issue: Try a different mod or a different tank
It's a good idea to clarify the cause of the problem before you proceed with a fix, even if it's probably related to your tank or atomizer. You can do this by switching up your setup with another mod or tank.
When your mod works perfectly with another tank attached, you know that the problem is due to the tank you used.
When the mod still doesn't work with a new tank, it's likely a problem with your mod.
If your tank works with another mod, then the problem is with the mod, not the tank.
If it still doesn't work on another mod, you know it's the tank.
Most of the time, the problem will be with your tank rather than your mod. In that case, here's what to do if you're using a sub-ohm tank or most other types of tanks.
Don't forget to check your connections
There's a high probability that something isn't connected properly. You should first make sure your tank is securely attached to your mod's connection point. If it still doesn't work, unscrew the tank and reattach it. A message will pop up on most modern devices when you screw it on asking if it is the same coil as you were using previously. Try firing again if this doesn't happen and see if the error persists.
If this doesn't work, then it might be a physical issue with your atomizer head (or "coil") and the tank, rather than with the tank and your mod. The atomizer head can be accessed by unscrewing the base of the tank. You might need to empty the juice from the tank before doing this in some cases, but it depends on your specific tank. Find the point where your coil connects to the tank's base.
After removing the atomizer, screw it back in place, making sure it connects cleanly and you don't have any crossed threads (if you like, you can clean the coil and the connections first - since you're already removing it, you might as well - see below). The easiest way to determine whether everything is lined up properly is to put the atomizer head in place and turn it left as if you were unscrewing, until you hear a distinct click as it drops down the threading. When you hear this, you know it's in position and can turn it to the right to screw the coil in. Reassemble the tank and test it.
Clean the coil and the connections
If you still have problems - or if you just want to be sure - give your atomizer head a quick cleaning. Getting a cotton bud/swab/Q-tip and cleaning around the base of the atomizer head and the threading, where it connects to the tank, is all you need to do (there's no need to do a full hot water clean). You should also clean the tank where the atomizer head is connected.
If you have your cotton bud out, you should also clean around the 510 connection at the base of the tank (where it connects to your mod) and the connection point on your mod. Debris stuck here could disrupt the connection and result in the "No atomizer" message. Additionally, if some e-juice has leaked out, this could interfere with the connection as well. Clean the device thoroughly and the problem should be resolved.
Reconnect everything and try your device again. If everything works, you're good to go. If not, keep reading because it might be a more complicated issue.
Replace your coil with a new one
A coil is changed on a tank.
If cleaning and reconnecting haven't resolved the problem, the atomizer head could just be a dud or past its prime. The only solution to this problem is to try a new atomizer head and make sure it's connected properly. If this still doesn't work, there's either a bigger problem with your tank or (likely) a problem with your mod.
Check the connection point on your tank
The connection point on your tank may be too far recessed for a good connection with your mod due to most mods featuring spring-loaded contact points nowadays. If you look at the 510 connection, you should see a (usually gold-plated) contact point protruding from the middle of the threading. This means that the contact point should be slightly lower than the threading base.
In most modern devices, this is a flat, smooth surface, and unfortunately there's not much you can do if it's pushed too far in. Older tanks, in particular, often have a flat-head screwdriver point on the contact point. Unscrew this very slightly - just enough so that it protrudes below the threading - and try to connect again. It's important not to unscrew it too much because it's also used to hold your tank together.
Problems with RDAs/RBAs...
If you're vaping with a rebuildable atomizer (whether a dripper atomizer - RDA - or a rebuildable tank), the advice is largely the same as above, but there are a couple of additional potential issues to consider.
Have you tightened down your post screws?
Other than the issues you might encounter with sub-ohm tanks (e.g., poor connections between the mod and the atomizer, dirty connections, and recessed 510 connectors), one of the main things you should check is whether the screws you use to connect your coil to the post are tight enough. During normal use, these can loosen just like the atomizer heads.
If you don't see an obvious problem (e.g. one of your coil's legs completely out of the post), grab your screwdriver and tighten them down. Test the device again.
Is the coil in contact with the outer chamber?
Rebuildable tanks can also have problems if the coil makes contact with the chamber surrounding the build deck. The same thing can happen on dripping atomizers, but it's more likely to occur on RTAs (rebuildable tank atomizers) since the chambers tend to be more compact and offer less space for building.
If you can see inside the chamber without removing the cap, you can easily tell if this is happening. All you have to do if your coil is making contact (or it looks suspiciously close to the edge) is to figure out how to move it to avoid the issue - you can usually move it slightly up or down, bending the legs and moving it away from the cap in the process. You may have to unscrew the posts and simply push the coil closer to them at worst.
Be sure the coil is cool before doing any of this, and switch off your mod or unscrew the atomizer to prevent accidental firing.
Wires should be checked for breaks
Also, sometimes, especially when you vape at higher power settings, your coil can break while you're using it. As a result, a gap will be created in the coil and the circuit will not complete, which will result in your mod throwing the "No atomizer" error because it cannot get a current flowing. If you look at your coil, you can spot this pretty easily, but it can't be fixed: you just need to make a new coil!
Problems with Your Mod...
In the unlikely event that your mod is causing the issue rather than your tank, you can take a few steps to resolve it. Generally, though, if there's a problem with your mod, the fixes are more risky and it might not be possible to fix.
Check the connection point for debris and clean it
A build-up of dirt or debris around the connection point is the only thing that could cause a connection issue with your mod. As suggested above for cleaning your tank or coil, simply get a cotton bud or Q-tip and clean around the threading and 510 connection.
You can use a bit of kitchen roll if there is a significant juice leak (this is a good idea anyway since you don't want the juice to get into the internal circuitry of the device), but generally speaking, you should just be looking for anything that could block the connection between the contact point at the bottom of your tank and the matching point on your mod.
How High Is the Contact Point?
As with older tank designs that had adjustable contact points at the bottom for connecting, it is technically possible (though not advisable) to adjust the height of the contact point on your mod. Most modern devices have spring-loaded contact points, so you probably won't need to do this unless you have an older device.
If your device is new or still under warranty, it's worth contacting the retailer about the problem, just in case they can replace the device for you before you do anything that voids the warranty.
In other words, if you've ruled out everything else and your tank works with another mod, it might be worth trying to raise the contact point slightly. This will require a small (precision) flathead screwdriver. Along the sides of the (usually gold-plated) contact point, there should be a small space that you can get the tip of the screwdriver into.
Put the screwdriver there and gently wiggle the contact point up and down before doing the same on the other side. If you're doing this, be cautious - move it a little bit and then re-check, then move it a little more and re-check again. You run the risk of ruining the whole mod if you go too far, so do this only if you're out of ideas and are willing to take a risk with your device.
When All Else Fails... Get a New Mod
Some issues can't be fixed. Regardless of the situation, the mod could be malfunctioning or just not making a connection regardless of the reason. In this case, you may just need a new mod altogether. It's not the kind of news you want to hear, but if you've ruled out all other options and can't fix the problem, it could be something more serious.