My smoke house problems.

Discussion in 'Smoke Houses' started by superd, Aug 7, 2011.

  1. superd

    superd Newbie

    Hello all,

    I posted this very same message on another forum a few hours ago and a user was nice enough to recommend this board to me thinking it might be better suited for my question so here goes...

    I'm VERY new to this hobby (for me) and with the kids out of the house I decided I would try my hand at smoking meats. So I built my smoker and used some ideas from a mixture of plans.

    I hope I'm in the right place to ask this question but I'm having some problems. The smoke house is 3' deep by 4' wide and about 6' tall. All wood and insulated. At the bottom on the front door I have a 6" vent and then is a 6" vent in the roof and another 6" vent in the side. I'm using a LPCAST10-2 from Tejas Smokers.

    One of the problems I'm having is getting the temp down. Even with the flame set very very low I can only seem to get the temp down to about 240. The second problem is when I open the door it will blow out the burner most of the time. I emailed Tejas Smokers and told them I thought maybe my burner was to large because I can't really adjust the heat. They said

    "If the flame goes out when you open the door…then you probably do not have enough chimney and air entry for the constant draft. What is happening is that when you open the door the pressure is changinginside the smoker, and the inside air is going to move around to equalize that change in pressure. First make sure you have adequate open chimney and about twice that cross sectional area in air inlet coming into the base of the smoker."

    So I'm here to ask the experts a question or two if I may. First if need to add another / larger intake how big should it be? Would I be ok with putting a vent on the back or side at the bottom? Should it be an adjustable vent like the one on the front and top or just leave it open all the time. If I understand it correctly if I have two 6 inch vents at the top I would need at least 4 six inch vents at the bottom.. is that correct. Basiclly double to what I have on the top is the way I read this.

    Tejas suggested I try this first and see if that doesn't help get the temp down but if not we could go with a smaller burner.

    Sorry to just jump in here and start asking a ton of newbee questions but I figured if anyone would know you guys / gals would. Before I just assume and start hacking more holes in my smoker I figure it's better if I ask.

    I know it is hard to tell but this smoker is on casters so I can roll it out of my garage when I want to use it so adding any large external hardware is really out of the question.


  2. meateater

    meateater Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

     Are you trying to cold smoke or hot smoke? If just cold smoking you can use a AMNS dust or pellet smoker, the link is in my signature. I'm not a propane user but someone will come by and answer that for you. 
  3. meateater

    meateater Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

     Welcome to the SMF. Glad to have you here. Lots of good folks, great recipes and knowledge. Looking forward to  your first qview. [​IMG]
  4. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    [​IMG]     Glad to have you with us!

    That is a really cool looking smoker.

    There are a lot of builders on here who can answer your questions. 

    I'm not one of them, hopefully one will be along soon.
  5. superd

    superd Newbie

    Thanks. I want to be able to do both that is why I have the smoke generator on the side.  I didn't take a picture of it but there is a Ventura Super 4 cold smoke generator mounted on the bottom of the smoker. I'm hoping it just requires a small change to the design. The smoke house is pretty air tight  which might be part of the problem.

    Thanks for the advice and the welcome.

  6. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Why not try a hot plate and see how that does for you?
  7. superd

    superd Newbie

    It's a pretty large smoke house and I'm not sure a hot plate will get up to that temp but I could try.  I know a company sells a 100 pound smoker with an electric setup and it has a 5000 watt element with a blower.  Not sure what the wattage of a hot plate is.
  8. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    SuperD  it's a no cost option,  Not sure where you are but if it's 100 degrees outside and you have an insulated smoker you may not need a lot of watts to get your temps up.  During the winter the gas burner may be more appropriate.  The other option is that some of the gas burners have to change out a needle valve to get a lower flame.  You may also try turning your gas valve from the tank or wall almost all the way closed.  Is the flame too high, will reducing the gas flow allow a smaller flame. 

    You can always add more chimney with a damper in it but as nice looking as your smokehouse is I would consider adjusting the amount of heat going into the smoker first.  The only thing inlets and chimneys do is move the smoke out, if you get poor combustion your meat will taste like creosote.  If you are not getting that icky black smear on the meat you may simply have too much heat for the conditions.
  9. superd

    superd Newbie

    Located in Northern Indiana and when I tested it was about 85 degrees outside.  If I get a chance I'll take a picture of the flame but it was barely lit on the burner which is one of the reasons I thought it was being blown out when I opened the door.... way to low.  When I ordered the burner they said this one would be fine but I agree it might be TOO big for this operation.

    They do have a smaller one or I could go with a pipe burner.  This one has the venturi outside of the smoke house so I can adjust the air and that is sort of the way I want to keep it so I don't have to worry about an air mixture inside of the smoke house.

    I appreciate the advice and ideas.  Like I said I really hate to start hacking this thing up if I don't have to.

  10. meateater

    meateater Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

  11. superd

    superd Newbie

    That might be just the thing to try.  Sounds like I might have to have a twin option with this smoke house.  Electric for low heat and gas for the higher heat.


  12. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Yea, if you are not getting poor combustion, creosote, then you just have to much heat.  When I suggested turning the gas down I ment the primary gas supply but if your flame is just big enough to stay lit you can't mess with it.   Try the electric or a smaller gas camping stove.   Remember with electric you want the burner hot enough to keep your chips burning or smoldering. So if the burner is to large you may solve your heat problem but still need to purchase some sort of smoke generator .

    How about sending some of that 85 degree weather this way! 
  13. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I built a smokehouse similar in size to yours.  It is not insulated and sealed where it needs to be but allows air penetration where it needs to also.  I purchased a three stage burner so I could control the temps easier and it works very well, along with adding a needle valve, I have infinite control.  All three burners going full boar with no reduction in gas, it will top out around 280°+, but have no problem keeping it 220° summer or winter (and I'm in Texas... 107° in the shade, lol).  Total btu rating for the propane stove is 35,000 btu's max.  On two of the burners (center and one side) it cruises 180° or so, on the center burner only it's around 100° - 120° (well, during the summer a bic lighter will take it over 120°! lol!).

    I'd suggest getting a different burner (mine was under $40 from Northern Tool -   ) and a needle valve and not be so airtight on your box.

    Check out my build at the bottom of my post for ham and smokehouse threads.  My dad cured and smoked hams and bacons at his store for half a century and i modeled mine after the Koch smokehouses he had and it works great!
  14. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    SuperD,  Evening and welcome.   Nice smoker...I'm sure you'll get it figured out.......and soon....we need pictures of meat to go along with that cool smoker....Dave
  15. superd

    superd Newbie

    Hey Pops,

    Thanks for the link. From what you are telling me about yours mine is way to big.  Capable of 100,000 btu.  When I ordered it I told them what size my smoke house is and they seemed to think this one would be fine.  On your 3 stage burner did you have to play with the valves to get the air flow correct since it sits inside the smoke house?  That is one thing about the burner I have is the venturi sits on the outside of the house so I can adjust the air mixture.  Also, isn't there concern about the heat on the hose itself?  If you should crank it up to 250-280 will the hose with stand that kind of direct heat without any problems.

    My regulator does have a needle valve and the gas was open all the way and the needle valve was almost shut all the way down.  If I do need to add more air intake where do you suggest doing it or does it matter.  What size? My plan was if I needed to add more intake I would put another 4-6 inch vent on the back side directly across from the one on the door but from what I'm reading here it probably doen't really matter just as long as it's getting the proper air.

    BTW I looked at your build.  VERY impressive and the finished products look mighty tastey too.

    I'm off to get a different burner

  16. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    No, didn't have to adjust the airflow.  

    I too was concerned about the hose inside the smokehouse but it stays cool as the heat is above and the heat rises; I checked it many times at first but the fears were groundless.
  17. roller

    roller Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    Looks like somebody is making something besides Smoke....Ha Ha..   Nice smoker !!!!
  18. tjohnson

    tjohnson Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Insider OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Very Cool Smoke House!!

    More Pics and dimensions would be appreciated......

    100,000 btu's is way too much for your space. 

    Think about it, your furnace at home probably puts out the same btu's, and it heats the entire house!!!

    I'm thinking a 20,000 btu burner would be adequate for the space. 

    If your burner is too large, you'll be turning it down to a point where the flame can go out.  You may have a potential for a gas explosion if the burner does not have an inline valve that is attached to a thermocouple, to automatically shut off the valve if the flame goes out.

    Rather than cut more intake holes, I would take a serious look at using a fan to increase your intake pressure.  You could hook it up to a rheostat to adjust the speed.

    Keep Us Posted!

  19. hardslicer

    hardslicer Smoking Fanatic

    that unit is a beauty.......just like in life, figuring out this problem will be a learning experience and make you better at using it.....nicely done  [​IMG]
  20. awd1963

    awd1963 Newbie

    I am new to the forum, but that is a nice smoke house.  I am looking at build a smoker, gas grill, and charcoal grill unit just not sure out of what material or orientation, but after looking at this forum, I may just build a smoke house.

    To help you out a bit, it is not about the BTU rating as much as it is about controlling the temperature. To control the temperature, it depends on many factors such as materials of construction, how tightly sealed the unit is, and the exhaust vents.

    100,000 BTU burner will definitely put out the heat and burn through a 20lb propane tank in about 4 hours.  A 100,000 BTU rating is enough to heat a 1800 sq ft house.  The 100,000 BTU burner will offer an option over a smaller burner, it will get everything up to temperature faster, but it will make it harder to control the temperature even with a needle valve with the setup you have. Now you can put more intake and exhausts in and that will help with the temperature, especially the exhausts as heat rises.  The more volume of  the hot air that can escape the lower your internal temperature will be.  It would be like an oven set at 350 and just opening the oven door, not 100% correct but close. 

    I would think a multi-stage burner would be better as you can put out the heat in the beginning to get the internal temperature up as fast as possible to the desired set point, then turn it back to just maintain. Without doing the numbers, I would say something in the range of max 30,000 to 50,000 BTU multi-stage burner would probably be best.

    For additional information if you are curious:

    Propane burns at approximately 21000 BTUs per pound.  The burner is rated at 100,000 BTU and that is typically an hourly rate.    So a 100,000 BTU burner will consume about 5 pounds of propane per hour at 100% efficiency. 

    The flame issue:   The flame is probably going out because of air movement. With a low flame as you said above, the smallest amount of air movement could possibly put the flame out.  The air movement can simply come from opening the door.  The air inside is hot and wants to move out of the box as soon as you open it.  This will be true especially on tight sealed units and since yours is made out of non-thermally conductive material, it will probably be even more observable. 

    Hope this helps and good luck with your project.

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