Nothing beats home-grilled and smoked meat on weekends with friends and family. I can still remember how disappointed I was when my Traeger Smoker was unable to heat up as I was looking forward to spending some quality time with the gang. I thought my smoker had given up on me but I found out what happened to my Trager smoker with a bit of research.
A worn-out hot rod is the most common reason why a Trager fails to heat up. Over time, the Trager hot rod can deteriorate after several years of frequent use. Poor airflow and ash buildup are also some of the reasons why a smoker is not heating up.
Even though it is typical for hot rods to deteriorate after several years, it can be delayed depending on how you take care of your smoker.
How To Check If Your Traeger Hot Rod Is Broken
The hot rod is an uncomplicated device that is fireproof. It allows you to start cooking by simply flicking a switch. As you turn on your Traeger griller, it will trigger the hot rod igniter.
The wood pellets will be fed in the Firepot through the auger, and the induction fan will also start to feed air in the Firepot.
One way to find out if the reason why your Traeger smoker is not heating up is by checking if the hot rod is defective. It is basically easy to do and does not require special skills or even disassembling the grill.
To do this, try to turn on the smoker and set it to high heat. Open the lid and check if the hot rod has turned glowing red. It usually starts to glow red within the first four minutes, and then it will ignite the pellets to the Firepot. If the hot rod doesn’t turn red within the first 4 minutes, it is a possible problem with the hot rod.
To be sure, check the charcoal and air temperature on the grill. There should be enough airflow, and the charcoal should be adequately hot. If everything is working fine except for the hot rod not glowing red, then it may need some fixing or replacing.
How To Replace A Bad Hot Rod
If it is beyond repair, you can purchase a new hot rod and replace it yourself or have a professional do it for you. If you prefer to replace it on your own, here’s how it is done:
Make sure the Traeger smoker is unplugged. Once it is unplugged, you need to find out where the hot rod is located. You can find it under the firepit.
- Before removing the hot rod, empty the pellet hopper first and remove the screw on the control panel.
- Remove the pellet hopper body by unscrewing it.
- Find the cable zip ties and cut them. Find the white wires (RTD wires) and disconnect them.
- Take out the heat deflector, drip pan, and grill trays. Using a screwdriver, unscrew the nuts supporting the Firepot.
- From there, you will find the hot rod screw, do not remove the screw entirely. Just loosen it.
- Remove the hot rod through the burn pot by sliding it out.
- Get the new hot rod and insert it in the hole found on the grill’s side.
- Once the new hot rod is properly inserted, put back the parts by reversing the steps above.
Sometimes a hot rod does not need replacing right away. Depending on the damage, it can still be repaired. For instance, it may only be due to a loose or too tight cord, and it can be fixed by tightening or loosening it. If the handle is defective, it can easily be repaired by using glue to put it back together.
How Often Should Hot Rod Be Replaced
How long before you need to replace your hot rod would depend on how often you use the smoker. According to Traeger, it should be replaced after a year or two. But if your hot rod is still working perfectly fine, there’s no need to replace it right away.
Based on my experience, we have been using our Traeger smoker for almost five years now and so far, it is still working properly. We use it often more than once a week, and until now we have neither replaced nor repaired the hot rod.
In case your Traeger hot rod gets broken, the company offers a one-year warranty for their hot rods from the date you purchase the smoker. They will either replace or repair it as long as the damage is within the terms and conditions.
If your smoker is still under warranty and you experience any problems, make sure to contact them immediately so they can repair or replace the unit without any fees.
If the hot rod needs replacement, you can purchase a new hot rod from Traeger or buy it online. Several online stores sell Traeger replacement hot rods and you can read reviews from other customers and compare prices. Just be sure to buy from trusted stores so you are guaranteed that you get a legit product.
Common Traeger Problems and How to Fix Them
As mentioned earlier, there are other reasons why your Traeger smoker may not be heating up properly. It is common for any griller to experience some problems, but you can fix them easily most of the time.
A smoker needs heat in order for it to produce heat. If the smoker is not getting enough air, it may cause the smoker to take some time to heat up or worse, fail to heat up at all. A defective fan usually causes poor airflow.
However, sometimes it is also just a dirty fan that needs some cleaning. Before replacing the combustion fan, try cleaning it out first by wiping the grease that have built up over time. After cleaning it, try it again and see if the fan is moving properly. If it does not, it may be time to replace the combustion fan.
Ash can build up on the smoker and prevent it from igniting and heating up. This may happen due to poor maintenance.
To solve this problem, simply remove the ash from the ash cup and clean the smoker. To prevent this from happening again, make it a habit to clean the smoker after each use or at least empty the ash cup.
Pellets not Passing Through
The Traeger griller has an automated hopper and auger to make your life easier. However, there may be instances when the pellets can’t pass through.
This can be caused by either a broken motor or a jammed auger. If the problem is with the motor, you can repair it or replace it if it is unrepairable. If it is a jam, removing the stuck pellets will do the trick.
Traeger Smoker Does Not Turn On
If your smoker doesn’t turn on, don’t panic just yet. Most often than not, it is not the smoker that is defective but the extension cord or main power outlet. Check the extension cord first if you are using one if it is working properly. If it is, check the main power outlet; it can be due to a tripped GFCI.
Not Giving Out Smoke
This can be very frustrating as the major purpose of the smoker is to smoke meat. However, sometimes the problem is not with the Traeger griller but with the pellets.
Using hardwood pellets can provide better smoke compared to softwood pellets. Also, high temperatures can hinder the smoker from producing enough smoke.
Fire Frequently Goes Out
It can be irritating when the fire frequently goes out while cooking in a Traeger smoker. One of the main reasons why this happen is due to damp or moist pellets.
To solve this, make sure the pellets are dry before use and store them properly. Never leave the pellets in the hopper for several weeks as they can gather moisture.
The first thing you should do to get your Traeger to ignite is to open the main lid and check if there are pellets in the hopper. Then put your grill to the Smoke setting with the lid open.
This will turn the fan and the auger will start feeding pellets into the firebox. Wait for about 4 to 5 minutes for the fire to get started. When you see a good amount of smoke, adjust the temperature to your preferred heat.
Leave it alone for around another 5 minutes until it reaches your desired temperature. You can check how hot it’s getting through the thermometer on the control panel.
A properly functional Traeger takes only around 4 to 5 minutes to ignite. Some factors that make your Traeger ignite longer are extreme weather conditions, faulty fan, or the auger not feeding pellets into the Firepot.