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Is Your Hookah Leaking?

Is Your Hookah Leaking?

By double allen / June 29, 2012

Note: This blog was last updated November 20, 2023

Setting up and putting together a hookah is pretty simple. However, making sure that you have all of the necessary, basic connection points with a good seal can make or break a solid hookah session.

You will probably notice right away if these connections are loose. The dreaded “airy” smoke pulls from a hookah is your first sign to take a second look at your bowl, hose, and base connections. You may even hear it - a whistling sound. In most cases a leak in your hookah can be fixed easily and doesn’t have anything to do with the build quality of the hookah itself.  

Use these steps if you’re getting less-than-expected volumes of smoke or if you notice the sound of your hookah doesn’t seem right.

Step One: Make Sure a Leak Actually Exists

This is always a bummer once you’ve gone through your setup process, but when the smoke isn’t thick and you can barely taste anything your first step is to stop pulling from your hookah. Save that shisha you loaded up and get on the right track right away. 

Carefully remove your coals [into a charcoal holder is best] and take off your bowl. Plug the bowl stem opening with your thumb and take a pull from the hose/adapter. If you’re getting air, something isn’t sealed properly.

Step Two: Check Your Hookah's Vital Points

The easiest first thing to look for is a leak with your base. It’s not common but check out your base for cracks. These can be hairline cracks that you may have not noticed before. If you’ve got any bubbles forming on your base or you can visually see water seeping from your base, it’s bad news and you’ll need to replace it. 

A quick side-note, glass hookah bases can develop hairline cracks with washing.

If you’re washing/rinsing out your base with piping-hot water and then immediately filling it with room temp or cold water, this can cause stress on the glass. The same type of situation can occur if you’re filling your base with room temp water and then bring your hookah outside into a colder environment.

It’s always best to temper your base after a wash when you want to smoke right away by using water in incremental levels of temperature: hot/warm -> warm -> room temp -> cold -> add ice (if you’re going to do so).

If there are no cracks in your base, move on to the following. 

Base Grommet

This usually doesn’t cause much of a problem but it can, so double check. Your base grommet should connect your hookah stem to the base with a good fit.

Sometimes, with new hookahs this connection is tight for the first few uses, and over time the base grommet will “learn” its connection and will soften up.

If you’ve had your hookah for a long while, your base grommet may have softened to a point where it needs to be replaced. Again, it’s not very common but if your hookah stem easily slips into your hookah base it may be time to replace your base grommet.

Hose / Hose Adapter / Hose Grommet

This is usually one of the culprits. First start with your hose. Remove it from your hookah, plug the heel end (the part that goes into the hookah hub) and blow into the mouthpiece end. If you can freely blow air into the hose, your hose has a leak and needs to be replaced :( Just be sure that your hose handle and heel tip are plugged in all the way [if they’re removable].

If your hookah hose is solid, then make sure your hose port is threaded all the way onto your hookah hub [for hookahs with removable hose adapters]. If it’s not, this can cause a small amount of air to be pulled into your hookah whenever you take a draw of smoke. 

After you’ve tested your hose and you’re sure that your hose adapter is tightly threaded to your hookah stem, you’ll want to make sure that your hose grommet is doing its job.

Just like with any other grommet on your hookah, new ones are usually more stiff until they get broken in and softened up. This can cause newer grommets to slide/slip.

A best practice is to put your hose grommet into the hose port and THEN put your hookah hose in.

Bowl Connection

Similar to your hose connection, the bowl grommet is the secondary culprit when it comes to leaks. This can be caused by a few different things. Hookah bowl grommets are included with hookahs and in most cases can be used with various types of hookah bowls outside of the one that shipped with your hookah. 

If you’re using a bowl that has a larger opening than the bowl that came with your hookah you may need a thicker bowl grommet. We’ll get into some quick-fixes shortly.

Like hose grommet connections, the best way to connect your bowl to your hookah’s bowl stem is to put the grommet on first and then fit your bowl on.

Purge Valve

This is something that often gets overlooked. Inside your hookah’s purge valve is a ball bearing. It can be plastic or metal, but over time these bearings can become sticky with the residue of smoke passing through your hookah.

When this happens, especially after cleaning your hookah, the bearing can be stuck in an open position. You can easily recognize when this occurs because you’ll hear a lot of air being pulled into your hookah when you take a draw. 

Step Three: The Fix(es)

Hookah base grommets, hose grommets, bowl grommets, and hose adapters

Assuming that your base has no cracks and your hose has no leaks of its own, here are some things you can do as a quick-fix to get smoking.

Base Connection

If you’re looking to smoke right now and you have a base grommet issue, one easy quick-fix is to add some thickness to your hookah’s stem underneath your base grommet.

You can wrap some tape around the part of your hookah stem where your base grommet rests to give your base grommet some extra help. Electrical tape works best because it rarely leaves residue and you can build up thickness easily, but you can get by with masking, painters, or duct tape.

Obviously the best fix is to pick up a new base grommet.

Hose & Bowl Connections

While we don’t recommend it, you can double up your hose and bowl grommets if you have extras on hand. A better fix is the all-magical-wonderful Paper Towel Trick!

Get a business card sized piece of paper towel and fold it onto itself a couple of times and put it under your bowl grommet or hose grommet. You can even use this piece of paper towel as a grommet replacement. [I use paper towel grommets for my bowls most of the time because I find it provides a better grip, and I can use them for any type of bowl].

Clean Your Hookah!

Yes, it’s time. More often than not, a good thorough cleaning will solve a lot of your hookah problems. I won’t lie and say I clean my hookah after every use, but that’s ideal. I smoke a hookah every day so I usually clean my daily smoker every couple of days, but when I notice my purge valve bearing is getting stuck more than I’d like or my hose port begins to have a hard time keeping my hose grommet it place, it’s time for a deep cleaning.

If you’re still having struggles with your hookah, reach out to us! You can always contact us via email, phone, or by live chat on our website with your hookah questions. We want to make sure you’re getting the most out of your hookah and we have decades of experience to share with you.

Some other useful hookah related tips can be found in the following blog articles we’re created:

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