Temps too High in WSM - Can't Get Them Down

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by tom in nc, Dec 30, 2009.

  1. tom in nc

    tom in nc Smoke Blower

    Hey guys - I'm trying to do my first chuckie and I'm having problems getting the temp down in my WSM. I started with Cowboy Brand lump charcoal. Filled the chamber to about 1/2 full and added two small chunks of white oak and two small chunks of hickory. Then I put a small layer of charcoal over that so the chamber was about 3/4 full.

    I started a full chimney of lump charcoal and when that was ready I poured it over the unlit coals. I waited about 10 minutes then added another chunk of hickory and oak. I put the center section on the smokers leaving the lid off and the intake vents at 100% open. Exhaust vent is fully open and remains fully open. When the white smoke stopped billowing I set up my temperature probe and put the cover on. Initial temp reading was 255* so I closed the intake vents to 10% open. 2 minutes later the smoker temp was 296* so I fully closed the intake vents. 10 minutes later the smoker temp was 280*. 10 minutes after that the temp was still at 280* Its been another 10 minutes and the temp has risen to 297* with the intake vents still fully closed. [​IMG]

    I'm using a Maverick temperature probe and the water pan is filled with water, beef broth, and sliced onions.

    I have no idea what's going on and I'm looking for a little help. If you guys need any more info just let me know. My chuckie is waiting to go on the smoker but I don't know if I should throw it on or not.

    Thanks in advance for your help.
  2. fatback joe

    fatback joe Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    How tightly does each section fit and how well is your door sealed?

    If temp is still rising with everything closed, you are getting air in from somewhere. If you can find gaps, fill them with foil and you should get better control.

    FWIW The door on my WSM is completely sealed.......couldn't open it if I had to.

    Edit: throw the chucky in if you want....it will be fine. Just don't mess around with the lid off for too long.
  3. tom in nc

    tom in nc Smoke Blower

    Thanks Fatback Joe. The sections fit nice and tight. There is a small rock to the cover as the wire for the temp probe comes out at the interface between the cover and the center section.

    I'll take a look at the door but this is the first time I haven't been able to get the temps down.
  4. bbq engineer

    bbq engineer Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Just checking but you didn't say if you were using the water pan or not...and does it have water or sand?
  5. tom in nc

    tom in nc Smoke Blower

    Thanks for the reply BBQ Engineer. I've got the water pan in there with a mix of water and beef broth.
  6. fatback joe

    fatback joe Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    If you are sealed good and it isn't really windy out, your temps should settle down.

    Probably goes with out saying, but I will say it anyhow. Don't be afraid to close two of the vents and just keep only one open for adjustment.
  7. bman62526

    bman62526 Smoking Fanatic

    My thought, is that you used too much lit coal at the beginning...so now you are trying to fight back at the fire that you created.

    Take out some of the lit coal - about 1/3 of the lits coals...and then put the lids back on, open the top vent all the way and the intake vent about 1/4 of the way open...and check your temp. after 10 minutes.

    Should be closer to the range you want to be in.
  8. tom in nc

    tom in nc Smoke Blower

    Thanks for the advice guys. It's not real windy out here today but there is a small and steady breeze. It's been about 25 minutes since my first post when the temp spiked up to 297* and the temp has dropped to 270*. I need a bit more patience I guess. Hope this works out. If the chuckie turns out good I'll post q-view. If not, then I'll post q-view of a failed chuckie - maybe they'll be some learning from that as well.

    Thanks again for the help - you guys are the best!
  9. fatback joe

    fatback joe Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Yeah, patience can be a biatch can't it. LOL

    Don't worry about the chucky. It will be fine.
  10. mgnorcal

    mgnorcal Meat Mopper SMF Premier Member

    I agree with Bman62526.
    Main problem is starting with too much lit coals.
    That amount of coals would be great for maintaining 350, but for lower you have to choke them back way too much.

    Next time start with 1/3 chimney of fully lit coals, dump them on the ring of unlit, toss the wood chunks on, and assemble right away.
    Monitor the temp and start dialing back the bottom vents once you are close to target. Once you're holding pretty stable then add your meat.
    I wouldn't try to use water to regulate the temp. Seems like most WSM owners go with a dry pan anyway and use a clay pot base, sand, pizza stone or something instead.
    And if you do use water, I'd be surprised if anything you put in the water for flavor has any effect on the meat, although it will smell nice while cooking.
  11. 2007flstc

    2007flstc Newbie

    I also agree with too much hot coals. I had the same problem.

    Another thing to check is the air vent dampers. Two of mine are a little loose and letting in too much air.

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