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Too Much Fire!!! Traeger help sought

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by pokey, Sep 12, 2010.

  1. pokey

    pokey Meat Mopper

    I was smoking a rump roast, a couple of pounds of sausage and some salt pork in our Traeger Lil Tex with the LV180 optional digital controller from Pellet Grill Outlet. Things had been going fine with the temp set at 250 for about four hours. I decided to slow things down a bit and set the temp to 225 and loaded up the pellet supply bin. When I went back out to check things out about a half hour later, the temp had decreased to ambient. I made sure there was was nothing wrong with the auger and turned the control from 225 to Smoke (the start-up setting). In a couple of minutes, I saw white smoke start to get generated, so I figured everything was OK and set it to 225. The amount of smoke increased to a level I'd never seen before and I heard a whoosh sound. Smoke built up again to this max level I'd never seen before and the temp didn't seem to be rising like it usually would. Smoke, yes. Heat, no. I set it to 250 thinking there was something wrong with the controller. Now I saw the temp start to rise and rise until it hit 300! I opened the lid and through the thick smoke, I saw flames coming out from under the diffuser. I shut it down and after it cooled, I removed the grill, drip pan and diffuser and saw this:


    Clearly the auger pushed too much fuel into the firebox. Any ideas as to what might have caused this? Obviously I'm a little nervous about firing her up again until I know the cause. I cleaned it all out. I hadn't cleaned it before this use, and I had used it yesterday. Could too much ash have caused it?

    Anyway, I moved the roast into the oven for the foiled finish and will finish the rest another day. If too much smoke can ruin the food, I might have that to contend with.

    Thanks in advance for any advice.
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2010
  2. dave54

    dave54 Smoking Fanatic

    bumping you back to the top so the

    Traeger owners can help you out
  3. dave54

    dave54 Smoking Fanatic

    one more time
  4. pokey

    pokey Meat Mopper

    Thanks. Maybe there are fewer Traeger owners out there than I thought!
  5. johntroxel

    johntroxel Fire Starter

    It sounds like when you turned it to the smoke setting your flame went out.  If it is windy out this can happen depending on what setting you have it on.  When the flame goes out the auger just keep feeding it with pellets.  When you found out is was not lit you would not have realized that the firepot was prolly already overflowing.  You turned it on and it had a very time lighting because of all the extra pellets and lack of oxygen so it smoke like crazy until it finally lit and then the flame went crazy as it was burning all the extra fuel.  Just clean it all out, put a half of a handfull of pellets back into the firepot, reassemble everything and start it back up.   Next time you put it on the smoke setting make sure you turn the pellet box into the wind.
    armartin98 likes this.
  6. 1-wheel

    1-wheel Newbie

    had the same trouble need to vacuum it out
  7. carpetride

    carpetride Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Just saw this but as others have said....If you have a flame out you need to check the pot before restarting, it will probably be full or overflowing.  Starting a full pot is a ticket for trouble.  Flame outs happen, I've had two or three over the last several years.  The first time I had your same experience.
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2010
  8. I had the same thing occur. This was only the second time I used that traeger in only 2 days. Things were going fine when I noticed that the unit was no longer smooking. It was a little windy outside but nothing outrageous. So I shook the traeger thinking the auger was stuck, heard some pellets fall, then saw a lot of smoke, called my wife outside to take a look then woosh ! as I approached it. The lid flew open from the small explosion and a small fire continued so I shut it down, A bit unerving to say the least only having used it twice.

    I will be checking it out today to see what transpired. The wind obviously flamed the unit out. Thank you for your explanation. I will verify and let you know what I can see.

  9. big dee

    big dee Smoke Blower

    This has happened to me twice now. What I have found is that if you do not clean the ashes out on a regular basis this will happen. After cleaning everything out my treagar works good. Except when I forget to clean everything out.
  10. mleffler1787

    mleffler1787 Newbie

    This is now happening to mine. I spent an hour on the phone with the service tech & he had me change the P setting. I'm not sure how that works... What's the P-1, vs. the P-2, P-3, etc?
  11. pokey

    pokey Meat Mopper

    The way I understand it, the thermostat determines when the auger should add pellets to the fire box, which it does steadily until the desired temperature is reached. Then it goes into what I'll call a "maintenance mode" during which pellets are still added, just more slowly. That way the fire never goes out. When the temp drops below your setting, it adds pellets steadily again. The P-setting controls the rate at which pellets are added during the maintenance mode.

    The cooker doesn't really hold a steady temperature, but cycles between too high and too low. The controller stops adding pellets when the temp hits your setting, but the temp continues to climb as the already added pellets burn off. Then the temp starts to drop (how quickly depends on the P-setting, since pellets are still being added, just not as quickly) until it goes below the temp setting. Then more pellets are added, but there's a delay before the just-added pellets start to burn and the temp starts to rise. The P setting can control somewhat the magnitude of the swings, i.e. how much above and below the desired setting the temp will vary as it cycles. Folks find different optimum P settings for different ambient temperatures and wind conditions. Some of us leave it alone.

    I've hard it's possible that depending on a lot of variables (ambient temp, thermostat setting, heat output of the fuel pellets, wind, etc.), maintenance mode alone with a high enough P-setting can maintain a high enough temperature to cook.

    If you have a pellet smoker, you probably got it so that you wouldn't have to constantly monitor and adjust your smoker while it cooks. All this tinkering with the P-setting strikes me as moving dangerously into the realm of what I was trying to avoid by getting it in the first place.

    BTW, another way of causing a flame-out is to turn the controller off and back on again in the middle of a smoke. When you turn it on, it goes into a start-up cycle during which pellets are added to the fire box at a rate to get things started. If there's already burning pellets in the fire box, initiating the start-up sequence can overload it, causing a flame out. I think I may have done that before the flame out that started this topic. Since then (touch wood), between being careful when I touch the controller and vacuuming out the fire box before every smoke, I haven't had a flame out.

    Good luck.
  12. kimers

    kimers Newbie

    The thermostat simply tells the the auger when to turn on. So if the temp. is below where it should be the auger turns on. When it reaches the correct temp. it turns off, and then when the temp. is too cool it turns on. The smoke setting is not set to a temp. it is set to 15 second intervals of 15 seconds of auger running. WHAT? So if your on P-1 then the auger runs for 15 sec. then turns off for 15 sec., then on for 15 seconds. But if you have it set on P-2 the auger runs for 15 seconds then turns off for 30 seconds (15 X 2), then on for 15 seconds. So if you set the grill to P-4 the auger runs for 15 sec. then off for 60 seconds (15 X 4), then on for 15 seconds. Knowing the timing is helpful becase if you are trying to smoke and your grill doesn't stay lit you need it to turn on the auger more frequently or have fewer seconds between when it runs, so a lower P- # then you currently have.
  13. armchairdeity

    armchairdeity Newbie

    Wrong, wrong and wrong.

    Just saying that so you get the importance of your misunderstanding.

    • First of all, the higher the P setting the SLOWER it adds pellets.
    • The P setting only applies to smoke mode
    • The P setting sets the length of time the auger is supposed to pause between adding pellets for 15 seconds. P2 (factory default) pauses the auger for 65 seconds after it runs for 15. Bumping that to P5 pauses the auger for 85 seconds.

    There's a P setting timer chart on this page: http://tipsforbbq.com/Definition/Traeger-P-Setting

    The thermostat controls the auger speed/duration at a fixed rate in all other modes.

  14. rugby8man

    rugby8man Newbie

    Wow this just happened on my first time using the smoker.  I had two conditions occur.

    1. The smoker seemed to overheat and shut down.  This I believe was caused by my not allowing a channel in the foil I lined and the grease from the whole chicken easy start up recipe maybe lighted.  I'm not sure but this makes sense and I'll check.  What a bonehead move if so. 

    2. Seeing the temperature just plummet to 80 degrees I switched the smoker off to get the heat restarted and this put the smoker in the start-up mode mentioned above.  It started kicking pellets in like chicklets and not long after I was swimming in smoke, then fire. I finally doused the flame which every time i turned it back on kept coming alive. As I dashed for my life and to save the smoker I'm feeling like a doomkoff.  I didn't find anything in the start up info about a startup sequence nor do I did I know about a P-setting which if someone can provide me and where the h the thing is I'd be grateful. 

    Now that the smokejumpers and fire department have left I'll vacuum it out, reload, and rechannel the foil.  Any insight would be helpful - Smoked out in Durango.
  15. mike w

    mike w Smoking Fanatic

    I had that happen over the winter here, which is extremely wet and humid. It was like a mini fuel air bomb going off, pushed the lid off and flames shot out. I make sure I clean and vacuum it out after every run now just to be safe. It seemed like I got too many pellets in which put the fire out then when it reignited it set off the wood dust.
  16. minedog

    minedog Newbie

    Today my Traegar literally caught on fire while making midnight brisket wooosh! It happend twice I cleaned the first time with vacuum not much ash there. 5 hrs later it went out temp drop, I let it cool down started back up went back to my yard work wife yell temp is 500 degrees.By the time I got there the paint was bubbling on the front. I raised the lid that was worse, turned grill off till it burned out took a while meanwhile most of the paint is bubbled on the grill and sure there is internal issues. Something bad wrong with these grills no wind here today. I am calling traegar tomorrow not happy could of burned my house down if asleep.
  17. I have had my Traeger for almost a year now. I had it really catch fire one time, a lot of pellets had accumulated in the fire pot and spilled out , catching fire. Now after EACH use I vacuum the unit, body and fire pot. I bought the $20 shop vac head and a five gal pail at Home Depot. Never had that problem again. I have the fire start to go out, large temp drop. I turned the unit off, waited about three minutes and turn it back on, no problem. Also I posted a thread about what direction to face your unit. Maybe you can find it under the Pellet Section. I'm not near my PC now so I can't search. Maybe some of this might help.
    mike w and minedog like this.
  18. I just had the same issue on my grill except it started a grease fire while smoking Thanksgiving turkeys. Anyone have an answer?
  19. pokey

    pokey Meat Mopper

    I have had my Traeger for about five years now. I had it really catch fire one time, as described at the top of this thread. Like graywolf1936, after each use I vacuum the unit, body and fire pot. and have never had that problem again. If the fire goes out, I turn the unit off, do the vacuum thing, wait a while and turn it back on. Seems to work.

    Grease fire sounds like a whole nother animal, though.
  20. sybersteve

    sybersteve Newbie

    I changed aluminum foil and thoroughly leaned out inside of Trager unit because last time I cooked chicken thighs the unit burst into flames and burnt chicken to crisp. Thought it might be too much grease on aluminum foil.

    So I smoked 16 chicken thighs again today.  The 3 hour smoking part went great. Then set heat to 300 for 30 minutes. After 25 minutes I saw smoke billowing out of unit, opened it up and again it burst into flames -- and again all of my chicken has turned to charcoal.

    It was definitely a grease fire that became intense when lid open and exposed to oxygen.

    Why would the grease build up -- shouldn't it melt and go into the pot?

    I recommended Trager to my neighbor and they recently bought unit at Costco. . Same thing happened to them on Thanksgiving with a turkey. It went up in flames and was uneditable. 

    Is there a design defect or are we doing something wrong?