All hookahs are vulnerable to a few common problems. Beginners often experience teething issues, primarily due to setup errors. Worn out hookahs tend to have more serious flaws that may require replacement of one or more parts. Teething issues in a new hookah, especially for beginners, can be easily troubleshot with a few simple tactful steps.
Diagnose the Problem
The first step is to understand the problem, so you can detect the actual cause. You may find very little smoke generated by your hookah. There could be no smoke at all. You may taste a choky and ashy flavor. The smoke could be uncomfortably hot. You may experience a gush of air when you draw a puff. Each of these is a common occurrence. Your hookah is not necessarily faulty, albeit it could be. If your hookah does not have any damaged component, and everything seems fine, then you must perform a series of tests to resolve the problem.
Review the Assembly
Check if you have properly set up the hookah. Start with the stem or pipe. The down stem should go into the glass base. The largest grommet should be used for a snug fit. The bowl should be properly fit atop the stem. The hose should be firmly plugged into the connector using the relevant grommet. The purge valve should be expectedly functional. The hole in the bowl should not be blocked by shisha tobacco. There should be adequate holes in the aluminum foil covering the bowl. If you are using a heat management device, then it should be fully functional without any glitches. The charcoal pieces should be well lit and burning before you place them on the foil or in the heat management device.
Leaks and Blockages
If your hookah appears to be assembled as required but the device doesn’t function as desired, then you must conduct two types of tests to identify leaks and blockages. Any leak in the hose, connectors, purge valve, down stem or the neck of the pipe, the base of the bowl, and in the foil or heat management device will affect your experience. Likewise, any blockage in these components will also render the hookah unusable. You have to fix the leak or get rid of the blockage.
Checking for leaks is simple. Take one hollow component of your hookah, block one end with your thumb or hand, and blow air through the other end. If air leaks, then the component needs to be repaired or replaced. Perform this test with the stem or pipe, bowl, and hose. Then conduct this test with the entire setup, including and excluding the bowl. Block the top of the stem and blow air through the connected hose. If there is a leak, then you will be able to keep blowing air in. Also, there may be a faint noise of the air leak.
You can check for blockage in the same way. If air passes through the hose, base, stem, and bowl without any blowback, then there is no blockage. Of course, there may be a blockage caused by the purge valve. The purge valve may get stuck. Most hookahs have a purge valve and there is a small ball bearing inside. If the ball bearing gets stuck, fixed either in its base or elevated position, your shisha will not work as expected. You have to reset the purge valve and ensure the ball bearing is agile to do its job. Else, you have to get a replacement.
Water, Tobacco, and Heat
Many people experience poor volume and quality of smoke. Unusually hot, ashy, or flavorless smoke is also common. These issues are essentially related to the quantity and temperature of water, the brand of tobacco and how much you use in the bowl, the number of charcoal pieces and how well you manage them.
Use water at room temperature or slightly cooler. You may add ice for denser and more flavorful smoke. Use just enough tobacco for a session depending on the number of people sharing the hookah. Do not overstuff. Ensure there is enough aeration inside the bowl. The hole in the bowl should not be blocked. Use a sufficient number of charcoals and keep rotating them. Ash the pieces as and when needed.
Excessive heat is unnecessary. The tobacco will burn. Low heat is insufficient to generate voluminous smoke. Excessive water will make drawing puffs a tedious affair. Very little water will fail to cool and filter the smoke. You have to strike a fine balance of water, tobacco, and heat for an optimum experience.