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The Only Troubleshooting Guide You’ll Need for BBQ Smokers


Outdoor cooking is one of the best ways to enjoy time outdoors with friends and family while you cook delicious food. And smokers are one of the most loved ways to do just that. These outdoor kitchen appliances allow you to add smoke to your food, enhancing its flavors even more. Many barbecuers invest in a smoker too to toss in a few steaks or ribs to add more of the delicious smokiness after grilling.

However, like all appliances, running into problems and concerns with smokers is something that every barbecuer faces eventually. Even common problems like your smoker not creating any smoke can have many potential causes. We’ve covered many of the most common issues a smoker can have and their potential causes and solutions are in this troubleshooting guide.

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Your smoker doesn’t reach the set temperature

If you often find that you can’t get your smoker to reach the temperature you need in order to properly smoke your meat or veggies, you’ll need to check a few factors first. The cause can be one of many possible reasons that can influence how you can go about fixing the issue.

Start by considering the state of your smoker and what quality it is. If it’s mainly worn down from frequent use over many years or if it’s a less expensive smoker, cracks, a lack of insulation or even a loose lid can cause your smoker to lose heat. While you can easily get insulation blankets to trap heat inside the smoker, it’s a far better idea to replace the entire smoker if you find it has cracks or a badly fitted lid.

Fortunately, the cause of this problem isn’t something as big as the quality or age of the smoker. In some cases, the smoker’s intake and exhaust dampers aren’t completely opened or the weather is just too cold. Your smoker, much like a grill, needs a proper flow of oxygen to keep burning its supply of pellets, so keeping the damper vents open is important. Similarly, extremely cold weather can sap away the heat, so protecting the smoker from the weather is the best choice.

The smoker won’t create smoke

How you can start fixing a lack of smoke can change depending on what type of smoker is. The simplest way to get the wood chips to smoke in an electric smoker is to only turn it on when you’re ready to cook. Load the chips in and fill the pan with water like usual. Then, after preparing your food and setting it in the smoker, turn it on and set the temperature. This will give the wood enough time to burn while the heat rises.

The most likely cause that a wood or pellet smoker doesn’t create smoke is old, cheap or damp pellets. These kinds of pellets can either not burn properly or outright clog the auger that moves them. A jammed auger can also be caused by wrongly sized pellets so get appropriately sized pellets when you get another bag. Also, store the pellets in an airtight bag and remove any that are still in the smoker after each session to prevent moisture.

Fixing a jammed auger will require you to remove the plate and the hopper from your smoker. If the entire auger is jammed, you’ll also need to unscrew it from the auger’s motor before cleaning out any pellets or dirt from the parts. Then simply reattach them and check to see if the auger moves as it should.

Your smoker is shorting out

Typically an issue in electric smokers, the main reason that your smoker keeps shorting out and tripping your breaker is an overload. Electric smokers often need their own outlets and circuit breakers, so any other electronics on the same outlet can cause an overload to happen.

This can be caused by one of three issues. The first is simply that, as mentioned, you have too many things plugged into the same outlet as your smoker. Since smokers often draw quite a lot of power to work, any other electronics on the same outlet end up using more power, eventually leading to the smoker shorting or the circuit tripping. To fix the issue, unplug the other electronics and reset the breaker.

If that doesn’t solve the issue, however, the next most likely cause an excess of moisture inside the smoker. Much like other electronic systems, too much moisture can interfere with the electric elements in the smoker, causing both them and the smoker itself to short. The safest way to get rid of the moisture is to unplug the appliance before using a hairdryer to dry it out.

Lastly, the issue could be with the wiring of your house or the smoker itself. If the smoker’s wires are intact and using another outlet doesn’t fix the problem, it will need a professional’s help. Be sure to check if any other appliances work to figure out whether the smoker needs replacing or not.


Troubleshooting a smoker and what can cause its problems can be quite difficult if you don’t already know exactly how the technology in these smokers works. Fortunately, most problems can be far less complex than you might think. If you find that your smoker isn’t reaching high enough heat or even creating the amount of smoke it used to, don’t immediately consider that it’s broken.

Consider the weather and how much moisture you might have in the appliance first. Smokers often require a specific dryness and heat, so cold weather or even damp pellets can cause issues. But if it is a far more pressing issue, it’s important to keep calm. Check our guide and, if you do have to replace your smoker, you can always check out our catalog for a great selection and even a few deals.

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