Why Is My Traeger Pellet Box Smoking?

As a passionate griller, I know how frustrating it can be when your Traeger starts billowing white smoke instead of clean blue smoke.

This issue usually happens when pellets aren’t lighting properly inside the fire pot. There are a few potential culprits – the auger could be jammed, the igniter rod may need heating up more, or moisture absorption can lead to poor pellet combustion.

With some simple troubleshooting and repairs, you can likely get your Traeger running smoothly again.

In this post, I’ll walk through the common causes and solutions so you can return to smoking delicious barbecue in no time.

Common Causes For A Smoking Pellet Box

A smoking pellet grill fails to burn fuel cleanly, producing excess smoke. Several issues can cause this:

Poor Airflow

For clean burning, oxygen must flow freely to the fire. Grease or debris buildup inside the grill can restrict airflow. A weak fan or lack of ventilation also reduces the oxygen supply.

Solution– Thoroughly clean the grill interior, remove debris blocking vents, upgrade the fan if needed, and allow ample ventilation.

Dirty Burn Pot

Ash accumulation in the burn pot limits oxygen to pellets, leading to incomplete combustion and smoke. Regular cleaning is essential.

Solution-Use a grill brush or vacuum to remove ash buildup regularly so oxygen flows freely to fuel.

Jammed Auger

Jammed Auger

A blocked pellet auger cannot correctly feed fuel to the firebox, disrupting the burn and creating smoke.

Solution-Detach auger housing and clear any stuck pellets or foreign objects. Confirm smooth auger turning.

Low-Quality Pellets

Pellets with too much moisture, softwood material, fillers, or binders tend to smolder and smoke instead of burning cleanly.

Solution-Select 100% hardwood pellets with under 10% moisture content. Store in an airtight container away from moisture.

Faulty Temperature Sensor

An inaccurate temperature sensor causes incorrect pellet feed rates. This leads to temperature swings and smoke issues.

Solution-Test the temperature sensor and replace it if defective. This will stabilize temperatures for proper pellet burning.

With regular maintenance and high-quality pellets, pellet grills can provide consistent, smoke-free operation. Focus on airflow issues, burn pot cleanliness, auger jams, pellet quality, and sensor function when troubleshooting excess smoke.

7 Solutions To Control The Smoke Coming Out Of Traeger Grill Pellet Box

1. Keep your grill clean – A dirty pellets grill can cause flare-ups and excess smoke. Regularly remove ash and grease buildup from the firepot and interior. Vacuum out the ash after several cooks.

2. Use dry pellets – Wet pellets don’t burn as cleanly and can produce more smoke. Store pellets in a dry area, and don’t let them get rained on.

3. Empty the pellet hopper – Remove old pellets before adding new ones. Old pellets can break down into dust and cause smokier burns.

4. Do a burn-off – Heat your grill to high with the lid open for 15 minutes before cooking. This helps burn away grease buildup and prepare for a cleaner burn.

5. Monitor temperature – Cooking at the right temp for your food minimizes smoke. Avoid flare-ups from too high a temp.

6. Limit lid opening – Each time you open the lid, oxygen enters and can cause excess smoke when it ignites. Open the cover only when necessary.

7. Upgrade grill parts – Replace worn-out parts like igniters, thermocouples, and heat baffles for improved performance and less smoke.

Following these tips will help control excess smoke from your Traeger grill, allowing you to enjoy great barbecue smokey flavor without over-smoking. Keeping your grill correctly maintained and operating at optimum efficiency is key.

Safety Notes For A Smoking Pellet Box

Operating a pellet smoker safely requires following some basic precautions. As with any appliance that burns fuel, caution is needed to prevent injuries or damage.

  1. Locate the smoker at least 3 feet away from combustible surfaces like wood fences or siding.
  2. Keep the area around and under the grill free of debris.
  3. Always use heat-resistant mats when placing the grill on a wood deck.
  4. Check for pellet jams before starting. Unplug the grill and remove excess pellets in the auger tube to prevent uncontrolled ignition. Inspect wiring for damage beforehand.
  5. Allow the grill to fully preheat before cooking. Opening the lid repeatedly during start-up can cause flares from oxygen rushing in.
  6. Keep the lid closed as much as possible to maintain even temperatures.
  7. Never add pellets to a hot grill by hand, as this risks severe burns. Only refill once cooled down and unplugged. Use a sturdy metal scoop, not plastic, to avoid static sparks.
  8. Properly clean out ash after each use. Store unused pellets in sealed bags away from moist pellets, dirt, and heat sources.
  9. Children and pets should be kept away while in use.
  10. Install a high-quality smoke detector near the grill. Keep a fire extinguisher accessible.
  11. Avoid wearing loose clothing that could catch sparks when operating. Stay near the grill while cooking time in case flare-ups occur.

Following basic precautions will ensure a pellet smoker’s safe, enjoyable use.

Why My Pellet Box Smoking During Shutdown Procedure?

It can be alarming when a pellet smoker continues smoking even after you’ve begun the shutdown. However, there are a couple of common reasons this occurs.

1. Remain Pellets

The primary cause is that some pellets remain in the burn pot during the shutdown. The grill’s fan turns off, but residual heat keeps these pellets smoldering, generating smoke.

This leftover fuel burns away once temperatures reduce sufficiently. The smoke is harmless but can linger for 20 minutes or more, depending on the amount of pellets.

2. Narrow Grill Shape

Another factor is a tall or narrow grill body shape. Some pellet smokers are designed in a way that doesn’t allow smoke to fully vent during the shutdown.

The smoke gets bottled up temporarily instead of dissipating, especially if the lid is closed. Opening the lid slightly can help smoke clear faster if this occurs.

3. Lower Temperature

Finally, lower temperature settings can lead to incomplete combustion and increased smoke.

If the grill wasn’t reaching optimal temps above 225°F, more smoke is created compared to higher heat ranges. Running a shutdown cycle from a lower temp exaggerates this effect.

In most cases, smoke during the shutdown mode is normal and stops once residual pellets fully burn up. Letting the smoke clear naturally as heat tapers off is recommended over manually intervening or disconnecting power. If smoke persists for more than 30 minutes, a burn pot cleanout or sensor calibration may be needed.

How Do I Make My Pellet Grill Less Smoke?

Excess smoke from a Traeger pellet grill can make foods taste acrid. Follow these tips to minimize smoke production:

  1. Maintain proper temperature. Smoke decreases at higher heat ranges above 225°F. Run the grill at 350-450°F as needed to cook faster with less smoke.
  2. Clean the burn pot regularly to allow airflow. Ash buildup prevents complete pellet combustion, increasing smoke. Brush or vacuum ash after each use.
  3. Use premium food-grade wood pellets, ideally 100% hardwood varieties like hickory and oak. Avoid softwoods, blended pellets, and with fillers or additives.
  4. Check the pellet auger for jams. A clogged auger leads to inconsistent fuel feed and more smoke. Keep the tube clear of debris.
  5. Open the grill lid for the first 5-10 minutes of preheating. This extra air reduces start-up smoke until temps stabilize.
  6. Upgrade to a grill with a higher BTU rating. More thermal energy enables faster ignition and cleaner burning.
  7. Install a smoke extraction fan to actively vent smoke. Some grills come equipped with these.
  8. Limit opening the lid to prevent oxygen rush and flare-ups. Use a wireless thermometer to monitor temps.
  9. Ensure sufficient grill ventilation and airflow. Keep the body clean of grease and debris accumulation.

With some simple tweaks and regular maintenance, a wood pellet grill can operate with minimal smoke production for the best-tasting barbecue.

How Frequently Should You Clean The Pellet Box?

After 1-2 Use

For optimal performance, the pellet box or hopper should be emptied and vacuumed after every 1-2 uses. Pellets left in the hopper can absorb moisture over time, leading to jams or poor combustion.

The burn pot where pellets are ignited should also be cleaned after each cook. Ash accumulation prevents proper airflow for clean burning. Use a small metal scraper or grill brush to remove ash residue from the pot after the grill has cooled.

After 3-5 Use

The entire pellet grill interior, including the firebox, grease tray, and convection fan, should be brushed or wiped down every 3-5 uses. This prevents grease drippings and debris from accumulating and posing a fire hazard.

After 5-10 Use

Depending on usage frequency, the pellet auger feeds pellets into the firebox. It should be inspected and cleared of jams every 5-10 cooks. Clogs here can cause burn problems.

After 2-3 Months

For heavy-use grills, a thorough interior deep clean should be performed every 2-3 months, including removing all grill parts. This extensive cleaning ensures longer product life.

Properly cleaning pellet grill components regularly will maximize performance and smoking efficiency. Budget 10 minutes after each use for quick cleaning and 30-60 minutes for occasional deep cleaning. Following this routine will help maintain your pellet smoker.


In closing, I hope this article provided helpful troubleshooting tips if your Traeger grill produces excess smoke during cooking.

While a small amount of smoke is expected, heavy smoke or constant smoke likely indicates a problem needing attention.

Be sure to check for airflow obstructions, clean the firepot regularly, use quality pellets, and inspect sensor function.

Performing routine maintenance and following proper lighting techniques will help minimize smoke production from your Traeger.

If problems persist, don’t hesitate to contact Traeger customer service- they can help diagnose any underlying issues. Happy grilling!


Should Traeger Grill Pellet Box Smoke All The Time?

No, Traeger grills should not smoke constantly when operating normally. Excess smoke indicates issues like airflow blockage, dirty burn pot, low pellet quality, or a defective temperature sensor. Proper maintenance and operation will minimize smoke production.

Why Is My Pellet Grill Back Burning?

Back burning occurs when ignited pellets flow back into the feed system instead of the fire pot. Causes include jammed augers, broken auger motors, blockages preventing pellet dropoff, and negative pressure issues. Fixing these mechanical problems will prevent dangerous back burning.

Is It Normal For A Traeger To Smoke?

Some intermittent light smoke from a Traeger grill is normal, especially during start-up and shutdown. However, excessive or constant smoking indicates a problem such as restricted airflow, dirty firepot, bad pellets, or defective components. Proper maintenance and operation will minimize smoking.

Why Does My Traeger Smoke When I Start It?

It’s common for Traeger grills to emit light smoke when ignited as the pellets initially catch, and temperatures stabilize. Excessive smoke or prolonged could indicate airflow blockages, dirty firepot, poor-quality pellets, or other issues. Following proper lighting procedures will minimize start-up smoke.

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