adjusting vents on offset

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by bob hines, Nov 11, 2009.

  1. i'm new to this site it seems like alot of nice people here. could someone please explain to me how to adjust the vents on my offset smoker.
  2. meat hunter

    meat hunter Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    First off, welcome to the site. If your serious on learning the art, and that really is what it is, and art, then you have found the best place on the net. Many many great people here to help you on you way.

    With that said, give us some info on what type of smoker you have. A pic would be nice as well.
  3. scpatterson

    scpatterson Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    First off, wlecome to the forum. Second stop off at roll call and introduce yourself, tell us a little bit about you, what kind of smoker are you using and etc..

    I would think that most smokers are diff when it comes to the vents. I have a reverse flow and I keep my exhaust all the way open all the time and control my temps by my intakes. I dont want the smoke to sit on my meat...My 2 cents
  4. bbq bubba

    bbq bubba Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    With your hand? [​IMG]

    What kind of smoker?
    What are you using for fuel?
  5. i have a small brinkman offset i had trouble keeping the heat up over the weekend i had plenty of fire but main chamber kept cooling off i'm no expert on adjusting the vents. i just want to get out of the attage that when it's BROWN IT'S COOKIN WHEN IT'S BLACK IT'S DONE!!!
    thank you all
    Bob Hines

    ps i'm cooking with charcoal and wood chunks
  6. pignit

    pignit Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I have an Oklahoma Joe and a New Braunsfeld. The technique I use is to always leave the exhaust full open. The only time I close it is when I'm not smokin and don't want the rain to get in. I will fire me up a chimney full of charcoal and when it is good and red I will dump it in my charcoal basket in the offset. Depending on the meat I'm smokin and the amount of time I'll be smokin, I may put some unlit charcoal in the end of the basket towards the damper vents on the offset. I then open the dampers full open until I get close to the smokin temp I want and then I close them off watching my temp closely. If I start dropping too far below my desired temp I just open the dampers a little until I get it right. Not an exact science but this method works for me. Good luck.

    PS... very important to have plenty of air to your fire. If your not using a basket that has space under and all around, make sure your using a rack in the offset that allows for the ashes to fall through and still get plenty of air to your coals.
  7. billbo

    billbo Master of the Pit OTBS Member

  8. Thanks to all i will try to tweak!! this is a great fourm and website!!!
  9. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Basic rule is leave stack all the way open. Start with firebox vent fully open. Get fire going, check your temps, if too high close firebox vent 50%, wait 10-15 minutes check temp. again. Keep adjusting it by 50% till you get it to run at the temp you want, then remember where that sweet spot is. You will be always opening it when you first get the smoker going, but then you can dial it back to that sweet spot once the temps are up.
  10. geek with fire

    geek with fire Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    One of the best things you can do will only cost you about a bag of charcoal and a small box of foil:

    First, most budget horizontals leak like a funnel. Take foil and roll out several "snakes" about 1/2" in diameter. Then, mash the snakes all around any door opening; both in the smoke chamber and the fire box. This will seal the box allowing for more temperature control by evening out the draw; which I talk about below.

    Load your firebox up and dump a chimney of lit coals on top. Open your exhaust fully and set the intake damper to about 1/3 open. Let that run for 30-45 minutes to settle in. Take a temperature measurement in the center of the smoke chamber at grate level (it's best to use a digital remote so you don't have to open the lid. Whatever you use, don't trust the one that came with your smoker. It lies!). This is your "sweet spot" temp. Is it lower than you want (depending on what you are cooking)? Open it to about half and let it run again for 30 minutes. Check again and see how much it changed. At this point, don't constantly adjust your damper to "chase" a temperature. Make changes and wait. See where the temperatures settle given the location of the damper. This is why you don't have food in your cooker at this point. You are focusing on temperature control, not dinner. Use up the whole bag until you start to get comfortable with where your smoker want's to land.

    If your boxes are sealed well, and cooking conditions are fair (not terribly windy and no snot cicles) future cooks should be relevant. Temperature control is all about how much air the exhaust stack can suck air through the firebox intake and into your fuel source. This is known as "draw". You could close the exhaust to reduce draw, but that causes stagnant smoke which can lead to bitter flavors. Instead, control the draw by the amount of intake opening.

    Also, think of temperature control adjustments like driving. You don't come to a stop sign at 60 MPH and slam on your brakes, eh? No, you see the stop sign coming and slowly apply brake pressure. Think of the damper as a break pedal. When you see your desired temperature approaching, slowly make adjustments needed. When you are cooking don't wait until you are at the temperature and make a change, because you will overshoot. This is what causes most babysitting of smokers. If you are always overshooting, you will always be playing catch up. Get a feel for how long it takes for damper adjustments to change the temperature. Then, make sure you give yourself enough time before your desired temp is reach.


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