Traeger PTG -Smoke in pellet box

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Original poster
Oct 8, 2011
I've searched the internet without much success to figure out my problem.  I've used my PTG 7 times now and on two occasions I found a considerable amount of smoke coming from my pellet box.  No fire, but with the amount of smoke, maybe I caught it in time.  Times that this has happened, it wasn't breezy and once I turned the heat down, it was back to normal.  The items I was smoking weren't greasy.  The only thing I could figure was the pellets were burning its way up the auger.  Not sure how to correct this other than increase the temp thereby moving the pellets through the auger.  I have the digital controller installed.  Any ideas would be appreciated.


Jul 21, 2014
Portland, OR
I had this happen to me one time, and it may have had something to do with not following the start up instructions.  With the Door closed, I turned the Temperature/Dial to SMOKE.  In approximately two minutes, whitish-gray smoke appeared out of the Flue Pipe Assembly.  You know, good smoke is a terrible thing to waste, so I threw my food on the grill for a low, slow smoke.

Sometime later, my digital thermometer signaled that I was loosing temp.   When I went to investigate, the flame had gone out and the Burner Box Assembly was almost overflowing with pellets.  Realizing that I had failed to start up wit the Door opened, I turned the Temperature/Dial to OFF momentarily, then turned it back to SMOKE.  Bad idea.  In approximately two minutes, I had a raging inferno in the Burner Box Assembly.  Shortly thereafter, smoke began pouring from the pellet hopper.

Time to use my head.  I turned the Temperature/Dial to OFF, scooped the pellets from the pellet hopper into a metal can, and let the inferno in the Burner Box Assembly have its way.   30 minutes later, there was no smoke and the Traeger was cool.  I reloaded the pellet hopper and followed the Start-Up instructions - no problem.  Having followed the Start-up instructions since this incident, no problems to report.

Aside from my improper start up, I have seen similar problems from other users.  I wonder if the problems are with the Trager or, speaking from personal experience, self imposed.  For example, I live in the Pacific Northwest, and some of my best friends are molds, spores, and lichens.  I would speculate that if pellets were allowed to rest in the pellet box, they would absorb ambient moisture.  The mushy pellets might create problems in the Auger Assembly and Burner Box Assembly.

Here is my advise:

- Follow the Start-Up instructions.

- Use Traeger pellets or risk voiding your warranty.*

- Store Traeger pellets in a dry container (, that is sealed (*

- Remove unused pellets from pellet hopper ( *

- Protect the Traeger (e.g, your investment) from the elements the very best you can at all times.

- Call Traeger Customer Support (800.872.3437  05:00 - 19:00hrs PT).*

Best of luck, and please post your findings!


- Matt

* I do not work for or sell Traeger products.  I do not work for Home Depot or sell their products.  I'm just trying to give the best advise that I can.  Smoke on!
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Smoke Blower
Nov 19, 2013
Milwaukee, WI
Many units have a fan in the hopper box to provide positive pressure and prevent the pressurized air from the grill body from traveling back up the auger tube and eventually causing a pellet box fire. If that fan is not working or if the lid on the hopper box is not closed tightly smoke, and eventually fire, will be forced back through the auger tube. Always make sure that hopper lid is closed and tight.


Sep 10, 2015
I have a PTG.. On its second stock controller. Mine actually caught fire in the hopper. On smoke my auger would sometimes stick on and run the temp up over 400. I didnt figure out what was up untill after it ruined my cook and had flames coming out of the hopper when i opened it up.. nothing to do with startup. I think the controllers cant handle the heat and go bad especially on long cooks. Dont leave it unattended or have it where it cant cause a fire.


Mar 23, 2017
First time using my treager elite was tonight. When i had taken meat off the grill i turned dial to shut down mode and walked away. Next thing i know pellet box was smoking like crazy. What did i do wrong?


Jun 5, 2017
First time using my treager elite was tonight. When i had taken meat off the grill i turned dial to shut down mode and walked away. Next thing i know pellet box was smoking like crazy. What did i do wrong?
I experienced something similar with my junior elite. In my case, the pellet box wasn't smoking like crazy, but enough to raise some concern. I contacted Treager Support and was told that such a situation could occur from time to time, more likely after cooking at high temperature. Their suggestion was this... when you're done cooking, drop your temp to the "smoke" setting for 5 minutes or so before starting the shutdown cycle. This allows pellets that are smoldering in the elite's rather short auger some additional time to to burn off. Once the grill is turned off and cool, empty your remaining pellets from the hopper and check the ones nearest the auger for any charring. If you do see signs of charring, contact Traeger support before using the grill again. Happily my pellets looked fine and smoke coming up through the pellet box has been rare or at least minimal.

Let me emphasize that I am not a smoker "expert" by any means! Simply passing along the information I was given by a customer service agent. Use your best judgement and certainly call Traeger about any concerns. Hope that's helpful.


May 27, 2019
This is good advice. My smoker went out because it ran out of pellets.

I think the key step is that if your Traeger goes out, put it in shutdown mode until it finishes. Then, and only then, restart your smoker using the normal procedure.

Do not l, like I did, just add fuel to the hopper and then turn the temp up. When that happens, I think the circuitry gets roached and that’s when it starts piling up the fuel. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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