Why Is My Pellet Grill Getting Too Hot?

As a passionate grill master, I know how frustrating it can be when your pellet grill runs hotter than your set temperature. Nothing ruins a perfectly smoked brisket like a scorched barbecue.

In this post, I’ll draw on my years of pellet grilling experience to explain the common reasons your pellet grill may be overheating and provide troubleshooting tips to help you get back to low and slow cooking.

Stick with me to learn how pellet quality, grill setup, weather conditions, and more can impact your grill’s ability to maintain steady temps.

With a few simple adjustments, you’ll get your pellet smoker back on track and master perfectly smoked meats again.

Whether you’re a beginner or a competition pitmaster, read on for my pro tips on why your pellet grill is getting too hot and how to fix it.

Why Is My Pellet Grill Getting Too Hot? – 7 Common Causes And Easy Fixes

As an avid pellet grill user, through trial and error over the years, I’ve learned what typically causes pellet grills to overheat and simple solutions to get them back on track. In this post, I’ll share the 7 most common reasons your pellet grill is getting too hot and easy fixes to try.

1. Poor Quality Pellets

 Poor Quality grill Pellets

Cheaper, low-quality wood pellets can burn hotter than premium ones, leading to temperature spikes. Look for 100% flavor wood pellets without filler woods, binders, or artificial flavors. Apple, maple, and hickory are good all-purpose wood pellet options.

2. Grill Isn’t Level

An unleveled grill can cause uneven pellet feeding, making some areas hotter. Place your pellet smoker on a flat, stable surface and check that it’s level front to back and side to side.

3. Lack of Cleaning

Ash buildup and grease accumulation in the firepot and interior can cause increased heat. Regularly vacuum out the firepot and grease trap. Deep clean the interior 2-3 times a year.

4. Improper Preheating

Not properly preheating allows pellets to over-accumulate, creating a big fire. Always preheat for 15-30 minutes before cooking.

Too much air reaching the fire causes it to burn hotter. Check the seals, grill lids and chimney for leaks. Close the air damper halfway to regulate airflow.

6. Direct Sunlight

The heat from direct sunlight can make your pellet grill run hot. Keep it in a shaded area or cover it when not in use.

7. Weather and Altitude

Thinner air at higher elevations produces less oxygen, making fires burn hotter. Very hot outdoor temperatures can also impact the internal temp.

Getting your pellet smoker back to maintaining steady, precise temperatures takes a few easy tweaks. Now you can pinpoint what’s causing your overheating issues and fix them. With proper grill setup and maintenance, your pellet grill will hold low and slow temps for perfectly smoked barbecue again.

Does Regular Cleaning Help To Maintain Grill Temperature?

I know firsthand how critical regular cleaning is for maintaining proper temperatures in your grill.

While it may seem like a hassle, taking the time to deeply clean your grill on a routine basis can prevent many common overheating issues.

One of the biggest factors leading to temperature fluctuations in grills is the buildup of ash and grease on key components.

Excess ash in the firebox or grease on the grates and interior metal surfaces acts as insulation, preventing heat from properly circulating and exiting the grill.

This causes the internal temperature to creep upwards. Even a light layer of ash in the firepot can throw off the airflow and cause your pellet grill to burn hot.

By thoroughly removing ash, grease, and food debris from all areas of your grill regularly, you allow the heat to properly radiate and ventilate.

Monthly deep cleanings of the interior and firepot, coupled with quick scrape-downs of the grates before each cook, help regulate the grill’s ability to maintain precise temperatures.

Proper airflow and heat circulation prevent overheating. So, properly cleaning your grill makes a huge difference in holding steady temps for perfect grilling results every time.

The Best Way To Clean Your Pellet Grill

Best Way To Clean Your Pellet Grill

As a barbecue enthusiast, keeping my pellet grill in pristine condition is a top priority for optimal performance.

Over the years, I’ve dialed in the most effective cleaning routine for maintaining my pellet smoker so it holds steady low and slow temperatures every cook.

The best way to clean your pellet grill is to fully deep clean the interior 2-3 times yearly.

Start by vacuuming all ash from the firepot and grease drippings from the grease tray. Scrape off any chunks and use a brush to remove residue.

Next, wipe down the grates and interior surfaces with a grill brush and warm soapy water to remove baked-on grease.

For stubborn spots, use a grill cleaning spray. Remove cooking grates and wash thoroughly with grill cleaner.

Vacuum the interior again, then reinstall the grates. Lastly, empty and clean out the pellet hopper.

Quickly brushing the grates and vacuuming the firepot before each cook keeps your excess pellet smoker in shape.

Proper routine cleaning removes ash, excess grease and debris that can throw off temperatures. With regular deep cleanings and quick maintenance, your pellet grill will always hold precise temps for mouthwatering smoked meat.

What Causes Pellet Grill Temperature Swings?

Through troubleshooting various issues over the years, I’ve learned the main culprits that lead to fluctuating temps in pellet smokers.

The most common causes of temperature instability in pellet grills are airflow, pellet feed issues, and lack of maintenance.

Restricted airflow from pellet overflow in the firepot, ash buildup, or choke points like closed vents limits oxygen to the fire, leading to spikes and drops. Pellet jams in the auger from sawdust or moisture fluctuations also interrupt pellet feed, throwing off heat. Insufficient cleaning allows grease and ash accumulation, reduces airflow and acts as insulation, hampering temperature control.

Other factors like damaged seals, improperly installed grates, cold ambient temps, and weather changes can also impact maintaining a steady temperature.

The good news is that being diligent about grill setup, preventing pellet issues, and regular cleanings to remove ash and grease buildup can prevent most temperature swings causes.

You can get your pellet grill back to smoking meats evenly at precise temperatures by identifying and addressing what’s impacting your airflow and pellet feed.

How To Stop Pellet Grill Temperature Swings?

As a long-time pellet grill owner, I’ve learned how to troubleshoot and prevent those frustrating temperature spikes and drops while smoking meat. Simple adjustments and proper maintenance practices can get your pellet smoker holding steady temps.

The key is ensuring proper airflow and consistent heat pellet feed to maintain a stable temperature. Start by vacuuming out any ash buildup in the firepot and hopper to prevent pellet jams.

Clean the interior regularly to remove grease that can act as insulation. Check for damaged seals or gaps allowing air leaks.

Close the lid and open the vents completely when preheating. Consider a grill blanket to stabilize temps in hot weather.

Use good quality pellets designed for smoking to prevent flares. Let the grill preheat completely before each cook.

Try adjusting the pellet feed rate if the swings persist. Install grill grates correctly so they don’t block airflow. Finally, keep your smoker sheltered from the wind and use a pellet smoker cover when not in use.

Addressing airflow restrictions, pellet delivery issues, insulation points, and environmental factors make a big difference.

While some temperature variability is normal, focusing on proper setup, maintenance and operation will keep your pellet grill holding steady temps for putting out a perfect smoked barbecue every time.

How Do You Cool Down A Pellet Grill?

Overheating is a common issue pellet grillers face from time to time. When your smoker is running too hot, it’s essential to act quickly to bring down the temperature before ruining your cook. Follow these steps I’ve learned through experience to cool a pellet grill fast:

  1. Immediately power off the grill to stop pellet feed to the firepot.
  2. Fully open the grill lid to allow heat to quickly dissipate.
  3. Open the side vents and the chimney wide, or remove the cap for maximum airflow.
  4. Gently stir the pellets in the firepot using a long grill tool to smother the fire.
  5. Carefully remove the grates if needed to improve air intake circulation.
  6. Mist the fire with a water bottle to help extinguish flames causing excess heat.
  7. Place a pan of water inside the grill to absorb some of the ambient heat.
  8. Adjust the control knob to the lowest temperature setting once powered back on.
  9. Let the grill fully cool before removing food to prevent further cooking.
  10. Relight the grill once cooled and resume cooking at proper temperatures.

Following these steps will quickly lower your pellet grill’s temp in the case of overheating. Proper setup and operation go a long way to prevent spikes, but this process will save your cook if it gets too hot.

Where Is The Temperature Sensor On A Pellet Grill?

As an avid pellet griller, I often get asked how these smokers can maintain precise temperatures. The secret lies in the location of the temperature sensor inside the grill.

On most pellet grills, the temperature sensor or RTD (resistance temperature detector) is positioned inside the main cooking chamber.

It is usually found on the grill’s top back wall or ceiling. This allows the sensor to read the ambient temperature in the cooking area rather than just the firepot temperature.

The sensor relays the temperature reading to the digital control board. Based on the set cooking temperature, the control board instructs the auger to feed more or less pellets to the fire to hold the correct heat.

Some grills may have additional sensors in other areas as backups. Ensuring the primary temperature sensor is clean and free of residue buildup is essential for proper temperature regulation.

So the key takeaway is that the primary temperature sensor is inside the main grilling chamber on the back or top section of most pellet grills. Keeping it free of debris allows it to provide accurate ambient temperature readings to the control board so your smoker can maintain average temperatures for grilling and smoking.

Why Does My Pellet Grill Go Over The Temp?

Through troubleshooting many overheating issues over the years, I’ve learned the most common reasons pellet smokers can run hotter than the set temp.

The main culprit is usually an uncontrolled accumulation of pellets in the firepot, which creates a large blaze that burns hot.

This overfeed happens if the auger keeps running when no more fuel is needed, such as from a faulty temperature probe sensor or control board malfunction.

Too many pellets in the firepot can also result from not correctly preheating since the auger dumps fuel during startup.

Insufficient airflow from clogged burn potholes, closed vents, or grease buildup creates excess smoke that can’t escape, leading to a heat baffle.

Damaged or poorly installed internal components like gaskets and grates can also impact airflow. And lack of regular cleaning allows ash or grease to accumulate, reducing ventilation.

No pellet grill maintains the set point perfectly. But paying attention to proper preheating, restricting airflow, pellet quality, and regular maintenance prevents major temperature swings during cooking.

Addressing these common issues will keep your pellet smoker running steady for delicious smoked meat.

What Is The Best Temp For A Pellet Grill?

One of the most common questions I get asked as a pellet grilling enthusiast is what temperature I recommend setting the grill to.

Through years of experience smoking meat low and slow, I’ve found the ideal temp range for optimal flavor.

For most classic barbecue dishes like brisket, pulled pork and ribs, 225-275°F is ideal. This low and slow range imparts the best smokey flavor. It allows the collagen in tougher cuts to properly break down over several hours.

For poultry, 250-325°F ensures even cooking without drying out. Whole chickens and turkeys do well around 325°F to crisp the skin.

When searing steaks, chops and other quick-cooking meats, 500-600°F gives the perfect char while keeping the inside juicy.

For burgers and dogs, I like 400-450°F for caramelization without overcooking. And vegetables are best roasted at 350-400°F to get tender and caramelized.

While pellet grills excel at low and slow cooking, they can also hit high heat for searing. Just remember to always preheat adequately before cooking.

Keeping your pellet smoker between 225-450°F will achieve mouthwatering results for almost anything you cook. Trust those target temps for a juicy, flavorful barbecue every time.


This post helped shed light on the common issues that can cause your pellet grill to run hotter than expected.

While it can be frustrating when your smoker spikes in temperature, with a few simple maintenance steps and proper operating techniques, you can get it holding steady temps again.

Don’t let overheating ruin your next barbecue! Using high-quality pellets, keeping your grill clean, preheating sufficiently, and protecting it from weather swings.

Your pellet smoker will return to cooking mouthwatering brisket, ribs, and more perfectly low and slow. Thanks for reading – now get outside and start grilling!

If you have any other overheating issues with your pellet grill, let me know in the comments. And remember to share this article if it helped you learn why your pellet smoker gets too blazing hot. Happy smoking!

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