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heating element advice

LaLaMatt

Fire Starter
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3
Joined Oct 31, 2017
(MES 30" gen 1) Folks - so as i'd previous posted, I had an issue with my heating element in my brand new MES consistently being 20oF below its designated setting. I called Masterbuilt - they sent me a new control panel - didn't make any difference. I called them again, and I should receive a new heat element shortly....however...
I tried to do a fairly decent smoke in it the other night - had guests come over - ribs, pulled pork, corn, sausage. Thinking I didn't need high temps, I figured I could set it to 255-260oF and get 230-235oF, and cook everything just fine. WRONG!
It started out ok, but about two hours in, the temp. suddenly dropped to 180-195oF, for almost 2 hrs! I couldn't figure out why or how to resolve. Bumping the temp up to 275oF got me to 195oF. But magically, around 2hrs, it fixed itself and went back to 230oF. It really screwed up my cook times though, and I had guests coming and had to serve them late.

Anyhow, this is only my 2nd use of the smoker. I know when I first got the smoker 3 weeks ago, a couple of folks advised me to get some high temp. spade connectors for when the heating element eventually would have issues - and I did get some. I opened up the back of the MES, but the current spade connectors are well wrapped in some sort of black plastic, so I can't get a look at them - still, the area itself doesn't seem damaged/worn at all. What are the chances that I just need to replace the spade connectors on my current heating element (given the young age of the smoker) vs. having a defective element? I really want to avoid having this happen again! Any advice appreciated!!
 

daveomak

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Try using side cutters and crimp the existing spade connectors... they could be loose... NOW. don't cut them off... I suggested side cutters because they apply LOTS of pressure vs. pliers... Give the smoker a try....
Maybe the element is cracked or broken... Maybe the overtemp switch is faulty.. Hard to know until it fails... "lets all the smoke out"...
 

dr k

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CAM00740.jpg

The one on the left is about to fail. The right is failing.
CAM00742.jpg
New before use from MB.
-Kurt
 

exromenyer

Meat Mopper
232
36
Joined Dec 28, 2011
(MES 30" gen 1) Folks - so as i'd previous posted, I had an issue with my heating element in my brand new MES consistently being 20oF below its designated setting. I called Masterbuilt - they sent me a new control panel - didn't make any difference. I called them again, and I should receive a new heat element shortly....however...
I tried to do a fairly decent smoke in it the other night - had guests come over - ribs, pulled pork, corn, sausage. Thinking I didn't need high temps, I figured I could set it to 255-260oF and get 230-235oF, and cook everything just fine. WRONG!
It started out ok, but about two hours in, the temp. suddenly dropped to 180-195oF, for almost 2 hrs! I couldn't figure out why or how to resolve. Bumping the temp up to 275oF got me to 195oF. But magically, around 2hrs, it fixed itself and went back to 230oF. It really screwed up my cook times though, and I had guests coming and had to serve them late.

Anyhow, this is only my 2nd use of the smoker. I know when I first got the smoker 3 weeks ago, a couple of folks advised me to get some high temp. spade connectors for when the heating element eventually would have issues - and I did get some. I opened up the back of the MES, but the current spade connectors are well wrapped in some sort of black plastic, so I can't get a look at them - still, the area itself doesn't seem damaged/worn at all. What are the chances that I just need to replace the spade connectors on my current heating element (given the young age of the smoker) vs. having a defective element? I really want to avoid having this happen again! Any advice appreciated!!
My MES 40 did the same thing and it was the element piece in the back, it fried and I needed to get a new element. Someone on this site helped me with it YEARS ago but since then I have moved to a Weber Smokey Mountain 18.5 inch smoker and almost never use the MES. There is nothing about it I like anymore. It has to constantly be babysat.

This doesnt help you much but Masterbuilt still continues to make this faulty product. Mine is about 6 years old so that tells you alot.
 

Bearcarver

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(MES 30" gen 1) Folks - so as i'd previous posted, I had an issue with my heating element in my brand new MES consistently being 20oF below its designated setting. I called Masterbuilt - they sent me a new control panel - didn't make any difference. I called them again, and I should receive a new heat element shortly....however...
I tried to do a fairly decent smoke in it the other night - had guests come over - ribs, pulled pork, corn, sausage. Thinking I didn't need high temps, I figured I could set it to 255-260oF and get 230-235oF, and cook everything just fine. WRONG!
It started out ok, but about two hours in, the temp. suddenly dropped to 180-195oF, for almost 2 hrs! I couldn't figure out why or how to resolve. Bumping the temp up to 275oF got me to 195oF. But magically, around 2hrs, it fixed itself and went back to 230oF. It really screwed up my cook times though, and I had guests coming and had to serve them late.

Anyhow, this is only my 2nd use of the smoker. I know when I first got the smoker 3 weeks ago, a couple of folks advised me to get some high temp. spade connectors for when the heating element eventually would have issues - and I did get some. I opened up the back of the MES, but the current spade connectors are well wrapped in some sort of black plastic, so I can't get a look at them - still, the area itself doesn't seem damaged/worn at all. What are the chances that I just need to replace the spade connectors on my current heating element (given the young age of the smoker) vs. having a defective element? I really want to avoid having this happen again! Any advice appreciated!!

Matt,
Before you go hacking it up, are you sure you didn't have your Smoker door Window facing South, in the Sun??
Don't laugh, if the Sun shines through the Door Window onto the heat sensor on the back wall, it can fool the sensor into thinking it's warmer inside the smoker than it really is, causing it to shut the heating element off.
Then when the sun is no longer shining on the sensor (a couple hours later) it will go back to normal.
I'm not saying this is what it was, I'm just saying it could be, because it has happened to me a few times.
Now I keep a piece of Half inch plywood near my Smoker to lean on the front to block the sun from shining through the Window.

This part is what I'm talking about:
but about two hours in, the temp. suddenly dropped to 180-195oF, for almost 2 hrs!

Bear
 

LaLaMatt

Fire Starter
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Joined Oct 31, 2017
Bear - def. not my issue here (although interesting suggestion!) - while my MES was partially facing the sun, but it has no window!

Are there any step-by-steps for replacing the spade heads? I'm new at this, so particularly interested to how to securely crimp the new ones (do I solder?), and how I replace the black plastic bit which I assume has some heat resistance properties....
 

daveomak

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If you know how to solder, and have the stuff, directly solder the wires to the element... clean the element wire with sandpaper.. strip the wire to good clean wire.... tin the wire and element.. then solder together... You will never have a bad connection that fails... OH YEAH ?? slip heat shrink on the wire before you solder... then shrink the exposed, soldered section...
 

tallbm

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Do you have this MES hooked up to an extension chord by any chance?
If you don't have a properly gauged extension chord and a proper amount of length then you won't have this issue BUT you MUST make sure the extension chord can support your needs.

Do NOT discount this factor as it is a real issue. Here is a chart for Amps to wire Gauge to feet you can pull the amperage. In short you need to be able to pull 15 amps over an extension cord you are using. Use the chart to figure it out. Best of luck! :)
 

LaLaMatt

Fire Starter
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3
Joined Oct 31, 2017
thanks guys! I know how to solder so perhaps that's the way to go - no spades at all, just a straight solder. Could that solve my 'consistently 20oF under my set temp' issue as well, or is that likely to be something else, some sort of electric controller issue?
Yep, def. no extensions cords - I know that can be a factor. I'm actually hooked up directly to a 20amp outlet that itself is the closest outlet to my 200amp service panel - only about 8 feet away from it!
 

daveomak

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In my searching, it's the position of the temp sensor... When I close the exhaust down, after applying smoke, the temps read the same... The air gets stratified inside the smoker, when there's air flow.. Check the temp next to the meat or under it... Most folks never checked the temp in their kitchen ovens..
 

tallbm

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If you have a multimeter you can check the ohms of the heating element (when the wires are unplugged from it. I don't recall the number but there is a number that will let you know if your heating element is giving the proper resistance to heat up correctly. If it gives a bad reading then you have a bad element.

Just some more food for thought.

After that all I can think of to do is to pull the back off and check the safety rollout limit switch to see if the connectors are failing there. If they are loose or failing then they may be triggering the switch to cut power to the element.
 

jted

Smoking Fanatic
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Joined Jul 28, 2013
Hi, Matt Tallbm has the right Idea. So does Dave You need to check your connections as well as the resistance of your element. Uncover the connector and unplug the wire connectors . When the male spades are uncovered use a Ohmmeter to check the resistance of the element your resistance should be very very close to 18. The formula is easy, voltage X Voltage divided by the Wattage equals the Resistance of a good or near new element . So 120 x 120 divided by 800 = 18
If it has a high number it is going bad and won't heat properly. A Low resistance reading will heat in excess.
After you check your connections and they are reinstalled wrap the heat shrink back around the connectors and use some electrical tape to hold it on and insulate it.. Jted
 

LaLaMatt

Fire Starter
36
3
Joined Oct 31, 2017
thanks folks. So I took the back off and did the ohm test with the existing heating element. Got 17.8 - so it would seem to be ok. I'm not really sure what happened - but while I had the back open, I decided to go ahead and change out the spade connectors for some high temp ones. I did that, put it back together, and then ran an hour test with it set to 275F, and with my personal thermometer showing it at 282F. So...not sure if I've fixed the issue...as I had a nice clean test before I started using the smoker, but at least right now it's reading right. I'm hoping it was just a lose/crappy spade connection, and my replacement has fixed the issue (fingers crossed!) I guess I'll find out soon enough next time I do a decent smoke!
thanks again for all the help.

Now - how did my first big smoke go other then temperature struggles......:

4.5lb pork picnic (pulled pork) covered it in 'salt lick bbq rub' the night before and a little brown sugar, threw it on at 11am 235F. Because of the temp. issues it took a lot longer then planned - pulled it at 160F IT (around 6pm), foiled, and then I threw it in my kitchen oven - why? Because I was supposed to be serving the food at 6pm and it still had another 42F IT to go! So I bumped up the kitchen oven temp and did what I could to get it up to speed. I ended up pulling it out at 195F IT, letting it rest for 5mins, and pulling it apart to serve for 7pm, because I really needed to serve. It was tough pulling it apart at first, but I have to say (and not to toot my own horn) it was some of the best pulled pork I've ever had. Beautiful smoky flavor, tender and juice - and nice bark too! I had a couple of guests over, and both took leftovers. One texted me the next day saying how much he enjoyed his leftovers, and then the day after I got texts from both of them saying they were still thinking about the pulled pork. I never get those sort of follow-up comments, so I know it was good! Next time my only change will be to start 'em earlier to get up to around 202F IT and still have plenty of rest time.

1 rack loin ribs: I tried a Memphis style, again the salt lick rub, I cut them in half and put them in a wrack to save a bit of space. Did a 2-2-1 - wrapping in foil for the middle 2, nothing added through the whole process, no sauce, mopping, juice etc. They were good - but not amazing. Nice and tender, good smoke flavor, but perhaps almost a little too much bark for my liking. Not sure what to change to improve them though.

Sausage: so not sure about these. I literally was in the market earlier in the day while the smoke was already going on, and saw some raw sweet Italian sausage links - decided I had the room in the smoker, so I got them, stabbed them with a fork a few times and threw them in. Turned them after 90mins, and took out after another 90mins. They had a beautiful consistent deep brown color - looked gorgeous - but the flavor was 'meh'. Didn't taste much smoke, and the sausages themselves were pretty plain and pretty dry. Not sure if it was my technique, or the sausage I purchased. Makes me hesitate to do sausage again actually. Still my 7yr old like them, so I guess it worked out.

Corn on the cob: lightly salted and thrown in for 75mins. Came out tender and lightly smoky - very pleasing.

Gladly take any tips on improving any of the above! Looking forward to the next one!!
-Matt
 

jted

Smoking Fanatic
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84
Joined Jul 28, 2013
Hi, I am happy your 30 seems to be working. A great save on your dinner. Also you have the right idea on starting earlier. I like to give myself a 3 to 4 hour window. I have never had a pork butt finish just when I wanted it to. It always seems to take longer. That is because I don't foil. That is till I pull it and it is resting in the smoker at about 140 till dinner. Jted
 

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