Are you experiencing a frustrating issue with your pellet grill constantly shutting off mid-cook? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ll go over some common reasons for flame outs and provide troubleshooting tips to get your grill back up and running like a champ. So sit back, grab a cold one, and let’s get to the bottom of this fiery problem.
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Pellet Grill Keeps Shutting Off
When you are trying to smoke a masterpiece, it can be very annoying when your pellet grill turns off on its own mid-cook. This is a somewhat common occurrence with a pellet grill and is known as a flameout.
Experiencing a flameout is a surefire way to ruin all your dinner plans, but if you take the time to learn what causes flameouts, you can take steps to prevent them from happening in the first place.
Read on to learn more about pellet grill flameouts and how you can prevent one from happening in your pellet grill as well as troubleshooting tips when one does occur.
What is a Flame-Out?
A flame-out is a situation that is unique to pellet grills and is typically characterized by the pellet grill turning off on its own without input from the user. You know you have suffered a flame-out when your pellet grill turns off on its own, and you see a pile of unburned pellets in the fire pot.
Flameouts can also sometimes be characterized by a sudden drop in temperature as well as a bunch of white smoke coming from your grill.
There are several reasons your pellet grill may experience a flame out. It’s essential that you figure out what caused your flame out before you try to fix it. Different problems have different solutions, and performing the wrong fix could lead to a disaster!
Editor’s Note: Never just turn back on a pellet grill after a flameout. Flameouts are often caused by too much fuel in the firepot and can cause a large fire or explosion. Always take the time to investigate the cause of the flame out before turning the pellet grill back on!
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What Causes a Pellet Grill Flameout?
Before we start covering what you should do in a flameout, we need to discuss why flameouts happen in the first place. There are a few different causes of flameouts.
1. Your Burn Pot Has Ash Buildup
Flame-outs are a common problem when there is too much ash in your burn pot. When your burn pot is filled with ash, it makes it difficult for the augur to continue to introduce pellets. The ash isn’t fuel, so when there aren’t enough pellets in the burn pot (because it is full of ash) the fire will go out.
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2. Poor Pellet Quality
Your burn pot doesn’t just get full from negligence, it can also fill because you are using pellets that are of poor quality (too much ash) or that have gotten wet. Wet pellets become a mush that is difficult to light on fire, which is why your pellet grill flamed out.
3. No Pellets in Hopper/Auger
Another common cause of flameouts is when you run out of pellets. Even if you noticed your pellet grill was about to run out of pellets and added some, it may have been too late, leaving space in the augur. When this happens, the burn pot can’t get the fuel it needs, and the flame will go out.
It is also possible that the hopper or augur has a clog somewhere, preventing new pellets from reaching the fire pot.
4. High Winds
Occasionally, if your pellet grill is exposed to too high of winds, this can cause the flame to burn out. This is especially true when the burn pot is full of ashes, and the pellet grill is already struggling to stay lit. It may also occur when you are cooking at very low temperatures.
5. No Power
Your pellet grill requires power in order to stay lit. If the power to your pellet grill is interrupted by a blackout, or maybe someone bumping the cord, this will also cause a flame out.
6. Fan Not Working
The most nefarious cause of a pellet grill flame out is that the fan in your pellet grill has stopped working. This is common in older model pellet grills or ones that you have had for a long time.
If this is the case behind your pellet grill flame out, then unfortunately, there is no easy fix as you will need to replace the fan before you can use your pellet grill again.
How to Fix a Pellet Grill Flame-Out
So your pellet grill just shut off on its own, now what? Below is a troubleshooting guide for solving your pellet grill flame out.
1. Save the Food
Unfortunately, solving a pellet grill flame out can take a few minutes. If you were actively cooking something, take it off the grill and slip it into your oven before the pellet grill cools completely.
2. Allow the Grill to Cool
Once you’ve saved your dinner, it’s time to allow the grill to cool down enough that you can move parts and check out the firepot. If you have heat-proof gloves, you may not have to wait until the grill has completely cooled down, but allow it to cool enough that you won’t burn yourself as you move parts around.
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3. Check the Firepot
The first part of the grill you want to check is the firepot. This is because it is usually the culprit of a flame out, especially when it hasn’t been cleaned. Not only that, but restarting a grill with a full fire pot after a flame out can cause a large flame or excess smoke situation, which isn’t pleasant.
If you find your firepot is full of ash, take the time to clean it out before moving on to the next step.
4. Check the Auger/Hopper
If the firepot isn’t full, check out the hopper and auger. Are there pellets? Is there a jam somewhere? Investigate thoroughly to ensure the pellets can reach the firepot.
You should also take a moment to check the pellets. Ensure they are dry and not wet or retaining moisture. If your pellets are mushy, you’ll need to empty out the hopper, augur, and fire pot, clean them, and try again.
5. Check the Power Supply
After you have cleared the firepot, check to ensure your pellet grill is plugged in and that the outlet hasn’t experienced issues. You may need to reset a breaker if a power surge occurred.
6. Check the Weather
By now, you’ve probably been outside with your pellet grill long enough to notice if it is really windy. If it is, you may need to reposition your pellet grill out of the wind for the flame to stay lit. Remember, never operate your pellet grill indoors or in the garage.
If you are in a hot climate, you may need to move your pellet grill to the shade before you try to grill again. This is because the grill has flamed out due to the fact that the grill itself has risen to a temperature hotter than the fire pot, and the grill needs to cool down before it will be able to function normally.
Once you have checked all of these things, you can fire your pellet grill back up and try again!
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Tips for Preventing Pellet Grill Flame Out
As you can see, dealing with a flame out is no walk in the park. There are some things you can do on a regular basis, however, that will help prevent flameouts.
1. Clean Your Fire Pot Regularly
A dirty or full firepot is the number one culprit for a flameout. Resolve to clean yours frequently, or at least every few cooks!
2. Don’t Leave Pellets in the Hopper
Moist or poor-quality pellets are another common cause of flameouts. Resolve to clean your hopper out between each grilling session to ensure moisture isn’t allowed to get into the pellets and ruin them.
3. Load Enough Pellets
While you might be tempted to put as few pellets as possible in your pellet grill, this may lead to a flame out right when your meat is just about to be done. We recommend adding extra pellets to your hopper (above what you think you will need) to prevent this from happening. Just don’t forget to empty the extra out after you finish cooking!
Brand-Specific Problems (Pellet Grill Flameout)
Every brand of pellet grill is different, and therefore, they all have a few issues that may cause them to flame out that aren’t found in other pellet grills. Below is some brand-specific information that can help stop your pellet grill from flaming out.
Pit Boss: Hopper Design
The common flameout culprit in a Pit Boss is the hopper design which can often cause the pellets to bridge instead of feeding into the hopper.
If you have a pit boss pellet grill, you’ll want to check in frequently and press your hand on the pellets to ensure they are feeding into the augur.
Traeger: LEr Message
The LEr error message is a code that is specific to Traeger pellet grills only, and it happens when the grill is left at 125°F for 10 minutes. Because 125°F isn’t really a useful cooking temperature, this error message appears when the firepot is unable to maintain flame. It is usually caused by too much ash in your firepot.
Clean out your firepot first, and while you do so, take note of the weather. If it is very windy, and you intend to cook at lower temperatures, then you may need to move your Traeger to another location to keep the flame lit.
ZGrills: LEr Message
Like with the Traeger, the LEr or Low-temperature error is a common problem seen in ZGrills. In a ZGrill, the flame out will occur if the grill goes below 120°F. This usually happens when the pellets aren’t reaching the augur or if they have gotten wet.
But with a ZGrill, this can also happen when you are operating the grill at low temperatures when it is hot outside. (Common problem in Australia and Las Vegas/Arizona in the United States).