Trouble keeping the smoker up to temperature

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by chcolmenares, Apr 20, 2014.

  1. I got a Smokey Mountain smoker for Xmas and I've been using when weather allows. One thing I struggle with is keeping the temperature. I can get to 200 easily but struggle to get past it. I've tried adding the amount of lit charcoal I put at the beginning -I use the Minion method - to no avail. The lower temps work fine for ribs but I don't think it will work with the pork shoulder that's been on since late last night.

    Any advise on maintaining higher temps?


  2. Hello Carlos.  Welcome.  I see this is your first post.  Please take some time and swing over to Roll Call and introduce yourself so that we may give you a proper "Hello".  All info you can provide us with such as smoker type, location and so on will help us answer any questions you may have.  As for your question:  I don't have a WSM but the top vent should be left fully open and then use the lower vent/s to control heat, so open all the vents up and the temp should start to quickly rise.  Not sure but I believe the WSM has a water pan, if so take it out and see what happens.  Also make sure the ash has built up so that it is stopping the air flow beneath your coals.  About all I've got.  Hopefully someone who owns a WSM will come along quickly and educate us both.  Good luck.  Keep Smokin!

  3. waterinholebrew

    waterinholebrew Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    How's your vents set ?
  4. Danny,

    Thanks for the welcome. I'll make sure and introduce myself properly!

    Top and bottom vents are open all the way. I also thought about ash blocking the vents, but that doesn't seem to be the case. I did "borrow" my wife's hair dryer to get some additional air flow, and that provided some temporary increase in temperature.

    After 11 hours internal temperature is 157 and the shoulder looks VERY good. I'm hoping that 3-4 more hours will do the trick. I'll either go for a bike ride or wash the car!

  5. jp61

    jp61 Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★


    If it's not already, open damper on the lid 100% open. Open the three dampers on the bottom of the smoker a little more and wait 10-15 minutes. Temp control is mostly all about air flow. More air= more heat, less air= less heat and no air= extinguish. The top damper should never be 100% closed except when extinguishing the fire.
  6. jp61

    jp61 Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    I guess I'm a little slow this morning :)

    Which WSM do you have? You may need to add more fuel?
  7. jp61

    jp61 Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Good luck!
  8. hambone1950

    hambone1950 Master of the Pit Group Lead

    Carlos , you never said if you have water in the pan. Makes a big difference. When I want to cook at 275-300 , I go dry water pan and just use the vents to control the temp.
    If you've got all the vents open , and no water , you probably need more fuel.
  9. are you sure your thermometer is calibrated? Most cookers it's impossible to hold under 200 for any length of time, let alone hours. (sorry misread, thought your temp was 157 not IT... still worth a check to see if your smoker's thermometer is calibrated)
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2014
  10. Yeah, I was going to say the same thing.  One problem I've never had with a WSM is it running too cool.  Heck, just to keep it at 250, the bottom vents are usually less than 25% open, even with water in the pan.  If you have a probe, put one in the cooking area and see where you're at. 
  11. demosthenes9

    demosthenes9 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Need to clarify something.  Is your smoker a rectangular box Smoky Mountain smoker similar to this?

    Or is it a Weber Smokey Mountain Smoker like this:

  12. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Perfect questions!  Exactly what I'd expect from a statesman and orator. 
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2014
  13. Thanks for all of the feedback.

    It's a Weber Smokey Mountain cooker, 18.5". I have the water pan full of water (or at least it was when I got started). Most water has been consumed and what's left is boiling. . I put a full chimney this morning and the temperature got to 225 - then dropped to 200 again. All bottom vents are wide open and so it the top vent. I know I good air circulation because when I used my wife's hair dryer I could feel the hot air escaping through the vent.

    The meat's temperature was 170 3 hours ago - its now 168. It does look finger licking' good!!!

    Not sure how to determine if the thermometer is well calibrated or not and I don't have a probe.

    I got a new batch of charcoal lighting up hopefully that will get us through the finish line.

    I'll let you guys know - and post some pics!

  14. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    You are doing fine. You probably had the dreaded stall. I have had a butt stall at 158 for like 5 hours before. I would bet your built in thermometer is off. Only other thing I can think of is wet charcoal, but even that wouldn't be an issue now.
  15. All the hand wringing (OK. No hand wringing - I had a good nights sleep, rode my mountain bike and washed the car) paid off.

    After 18 hours the pork shoulder was AWESOME!!!

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