I know you love the taste of slow-cooked smoky flavored meat but you also hate to babysit a charcoal smoker for hours on other ends, then a pellet grill would be a perfect option for you.
Pellet grills are the great edition to the world of BBQ. It uses a special fuel called wood pellets.
These pellet grills excel over the traditional grilling alternatives as they give off less amount of acrid smoke compared to traditional ones.
Pellet grills are a perfect choice for getting that tender and smoky flavored meat.
But as you know it is just a machine, it may undergo some issues.
Sometimes you may notice there is a lot of smoke coming from the pellet grill hopper.
Then you may wonder, why does smoke come out of the pellet hopper?
The Smoke coming out of the pellet grill hopper is not considered normal behavior. however, it is not typically dangerous.
There are myriad reasons for smoke coming from pellet grill like fan not working properly, bad circuit board or ash accumulation in the fire pot.
The pellets should be in good condition as dusty pellets or moist pellets may lead to clogging the auger and smoke coming from the hopper.
If you notice smoke coming from the hopper during shut down mode, this is also caused by backburn.
Though there are myriad reasons for this scary smoke coming from a hopper, still there are different ways to fix it.
Let’s find out here.
Why Is Smoke Coming Out of Pellet Hopper?
There are myriad reasons for smoke coming from pellet hoppers. You may notice during cooking time or shut down cycle.
Fan not working properly
Sometimes you may notice smoke coming from the pellet hopper during cooking with your pellet grill.
It seems so much frustrating.
But if you notice smoke coming from the hopper during cooking on your pellet grill.
There is no issue with pellets in the hopper ready to feed into the fire pot but it is an indication of airflow problem within the grill.
The fan is not blowing sufficiently to generate the pressure to vacuum out the exhaust. It leads to smoke coming from the pellet hopper.
Ash accumulation in the firepot
If the smoke coming from the pellet hopper, most of the time reason is ash build up in the firepot.
Ash build-up can cause airflow issues, which leads to smoke moving back through the auger into the hopper.
So, you may notice smoke coming from the hopper.
Excessive pellet dust
If the smoke coming from your pellet grill hopper, there may be the reason is pellet dust.
The excessive pellet dust that comes from pellet exposed to moisture.
If you have smoke coming from the hopper it might be caused because of dusty pellets as the sawdust gets collected in the bottom of the auger tube. It also may cause burnback or catch fire.
If you have an AC grill and you notice smoke coming from the hopper during shut down mode, this is caused by backburn.
Now you are wondering, what is backburn?
Then backburn simply means, the pellets within the auger are heating to a smoke point.
This causes smoke coming from the hopper instead of the firepot.
So, it is essential to solving the backburn if you notice smoke coming from the pellet hopper.
Leaving pellets in the hopper
In pellet grilling, wood pellets are the main fuel. So, you should take care of your pellets for efficient pellet grilling.
Some pellet grill owners leave the pellets in the hopper after cooking. But I don’t recommend doing the same.
Because all the humidity in the air trapped in the pellets in the hopper quickly.
Leftover pellets in the hopper swelled up and turned to sawdust.
The condensation occurring on the metal also may lead to wetting the pellets.
Even if you seem your pellets are ok, fill a fresh batch of pellets into the hopper just to be sure.
Sometimes, wood pellets can absorb moisture without us noticing.
Open the lid frequently while the grill running at high temperature
Sometimes running your pellet grill at a high temperature may cause smoke coming from a hopper.
If you are running a grill on high temperature and you open the lid too much frequently results in feeding lots of pellets to the fire pot to attain the desired temperature and you will get a huge fire.
In this scenario, when you finally turn the grill to shut down cycle.
You will get burnback from a huge fire back up to the grill hopper and get smoke coming from the hopper.
Directly switch to shut down cycle after running the grill on high temperature
If you are running your pellet grill at a high temperature, you should take care while shutting it down.
When you running the grill on high and after finishing the cooking you directly switch to shut down cycle, the smoke may come from the grill hopper.
You should not directly switch to a shutdown cycle after you are running the grill on high.
You should turn your grill on smoke mode for 10 minutes till the fire died down then turn into a shutdown cycle.
Bad circuit board
The circuit board is one of the most important parts of the grill.
It indicates the other parts of the grill are working properly.
The circuit boards control the auger speed and fan.
If the auger and fan are not running right in your grill because the circuit board is bad.
If you have the highest smoke setting on your grill, it won’t produce heavy smoke.
If your grill is producing heavy smoke especially if you notice smoke coming from the hopper even on the highest smoke setting and the smoke is white is then it is the sign of the circuit board not working properly or it is bad.
How to Fix Smoke Coming Out Of Pellet Hopper?
Get airflow properly
1.For ensuring sufficient airflow you need to check that the grill is on a level surface.
2.During the cooking time, check the fan and listen to the sound of a fan.
If the sound of the fan is weak, there might be some grime or build-up is preventing it to function properly.
For fixing this, turn off the grill. Allow it to cool.
Manually spin the fan to loosen the build-up on the fan.
3.If you replaced the fan yourself, you need to check if the fan is fixed upside-down direction.
The fan should push the air towards the fire pot for proper airflow within the grill.
An upside-down fan will push air to the hopper instead of towards the fire pot.
You can also check the airflow by removing the grates, drip tray, and heat baffle.
Turn on the grill and place your hand near the firepot to check the airflow if it is coming out.
Clean out ash from the firepot
In most cases, ash in the firepot is a culprit for the smoke coming from the hopper.
Ash in the firepot may cause the fire to burn back.
So, you need to clean out the ash as and when needed. In fact, you always clean the fire pot before each cooking session.
Here each cooking session means those cooks less than 2 hours.
Let’s say, you are going to smoke your meat for about 4 hours continuously, you may find smoke coming from the pellet box or fire out of the auger tube.
The ash from a long cook also causes the same problem.
So, you should remove everything mid-cook and clean the firepot in order to continue leftover smoking.
Some pellet grills have an ash removal tray or some don’t have.
It’s pretty simple to clean out the ash if your pellet grill has an ash removal tray.
You just need to take out the grill grate, drip tray and just simply remove the little ash tray inside the firepot and discard ash.
If your pellet grill doesn’t have a removal tray, you need to vacuum out the fire cup.
Sift the pellets
If you have a smoke coming from the pellet hopper, it may be caused by dusty pellets.
Though you are going to use brand new pellets for your grill, you may find a lot of dust.
So, sifting of pellets of before filling into the hopper is crucial even your pellets are brand new as they are full of dust.
If the saw dust is collected in the bottom of the auger tube, there is a possibility of catching fire.
After 10 to 15 minutes, when no smoke coming from the hopper, turn the grill to shut down cycle.
Once the grill is shut down vacuum out the hopper and firepot.
So, always run pellets through a pellet sifter before going into the hopper.
If you find the dust even after sifting the pellets, it means those pellets easily break apart and form the dust. It means you need to change the pellets and switch to new quality pellets.
If you notice smoke coming from your pellet grill hopper during shutdown mode, it means there is a backburn issue and you need to resolve it quickly.
For solving the backburn problem, you need to turn your grill to SMOKE mode.
This will start feeding the pellets within the auger into the firepot.
Let your pellet grill run till the temperature of your grill reduces to below 225F. Arranging the Shutdown from this point helps to prevent additional smoke.
You also prevent backburn by following ways:
You should close the lid during shutdown mode.
If you are cooking on your grill at a high temperature, set the grill into smoke for few minutes before shutdown mode.
This helps to grill to cool down before keeping it into shutdown mode.
Cleaning out the ash pot and keeping the grill on a level surface also helps to prevent backburn.
Vacuum out the dust from the auger channel
In some cases, the reason behind the smoke coming from the pellet hopper is dust located in the auger itself.
Here vacuuming the dust will help. For this, you need to vacuum out the dust from the auger channel.
After vacuuming the dust, you need to reprime the auger before starting up it again.
Store the pellets precisely
As the wood pellet is the main fuel source for pellet grills, you need to store the pellets correctly.
If the moisture trapped in the pellets won’t burn at its fullest efficiency. It also causes to auger clogged easily and not turning.
If you are leaving the pellets in the hopper after cooking, don’t leave the pellets in the hopper.
So, I recommend not keeping the hopper full always. Only fill the pellets you need to cook each time. Even though there are some leftover pellets, empty the hopper and store the pellets in an airtight pellet storage container precisely.
Always buy quality pellets and make sure there is no sawdust and moisture trapped in the pellets before filling them into the hopper.
Adjust P setting
If your grill has P setting, try to adjust it if you find smoke coming from the grill hopper.
Initially, you need to adjust the smoke setting and then run your grill at high to smoke.
So, if smoke coming from your grill hopper adjusting the P setting resolve the issue.
Clean the temperature probe
Cleaning the temperature probe is crucial for preventing temperature fluctuation and attaining optimum temperature every time.
Dirt or grime on the temperature probe results in showing up the false temperature and may lead to overfilling the pellets into the auger and firepot.
You may end up a smoke coming from the pellet hopper.
You should clean the temperature probe after every cook. You can clean it easily with fine grit sandpaper.
If your temperature probe is not working precisely, replace it with a new one.
Replace circuit board
Checking the circuit board is crucial if you are getting smoke out of the grill hopper and it wouldn’t stop.
If your circuit board is bad, replace the circuit board and fixed it.
If your grill is under warranty, you can contact customer support of your grill and give your serial number of the unit.
They will send you another circuit board and you can replace it. Your grill will surely work great.
So, now you know what to do if you notice excessive smoke coming from the pellet hopper.
Even though there are various reasons for occurring this issue, still there are different ways to fix it.
Each pellet grill design is slightly different.
So, you need to find out the cause from aforementioned reasons as per your own pellet grill model and fix the issue accordingly.