Smoker Troubleshooting

Pit Boss Not Smoking? Try These 6 Quick Fixes

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Matt Hollingshead | May 4, 2023

A Pit Boss pellet grill works as a smoker and a grill since it has a hopper that holds a large number of wood pellets and has an automatic feeder.

Additionally, the air delivery system ensures that hot smoke is evenly distributed around your food, allowing you to take the “low and slow” cooking approach.

However, if you’ve run into the issue of your pit boss not smoking, then keep reading to discover the steps to fix it so you can get back to enjoying delicious barbecued meals!

Key Takeaway: If your Pit Boss isn’t smoking, ensure the fan is rotating, the temperature is between 180°F and 257°F, and the wood pellets aren’t damp.

Step 1: Ensure the Wood Pellets Are Dry and the Auger Isn’t Jammed

There’s a chance that your grill might not be the problem at all. A popular culprit for your Pit Boss not smoking could be the wood pellets.

If the pellets you’re using are damp, it’s challenging to get them to produce enough smoke.

Perhaps you’ve heard that you’ll get a “better smoke” if you soak wood chips before using them?

Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Adding water to the wood only delays smoke production.

The wood won’t begin smoking until the water reaches its boiling point of 212°F and the moisture has evaporated. In this case, you’d see steam, not smoke. [1]

Additionally, you should check that the auger isn’t jammed with old or damp wood pellets. You won’t see smoke if the wood pellets aren’t travelling through the auger to the cooking chamber.

Step 2: Cook Between 180°F and 257°F for Optimal Smoke Production

As a general rule of thumb, the lower the temperature, the more smoke your Pit Boss pellet grill produces.

But, of course, you’ll still need it hot enough to ignite, so the temperature must remain above 150°F. [2]

Otherwise, the temperature reading will flash on the screen, meaning there’s a risk that the flame could go out.

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So, ideally, it’s best to keep the temperature between 180°F and 257°F for the optimal “low and slow” cook. [2]

Of course, you can vary outside this range, but if you’re looking for maximum smoke production, this is the range you’ll want to use.

Step 3: Consider How the Weather Conditions Can Impact Your Cooking

If you’re cooking in blistering direct sunlight or while it’s abnormally windy, these weather conditions can affect your Pit Boss’s ability to produce smoke.

Pro Tip: Although weather conditions won’t directly impact the final result of your meal, you should be cognizant of the effects weather can have because it adds more complexity to the cooking process.

For example, you can expect temperature swings if it’s excessively windy outside.

Similarly, suppose you’re cooking in direct sunlight, and the outdoor temperature is above 85°F. In that case, you may experience more difficulty cooking at a lower temperature.

This fault occurs because the heat from the sun tricks the grill into thinking the internal temperature is hotter than it truly is.

As a result, the grill shuts off to prevent overheating.

The solution? Plan ahead and start your “low and slow” cookout before the sun moves directly over your grill. Alternatively, you can move your grill to a shaded area if you have that option.

Step 4: Operate Your Pit Boss Grill on a Level Surface

You should always place your grill on a flat, even surface for two reasons:

Step 5: Check the Control Panel to See if Its Displaying Any Codes

Your Pit Boss grill or smoker showing error messages on the screen is one of your first hints as to why it isn’t producing enough smoke.

Here are a few errors that could directly cause the lack of smoke issue:

Step 6: Clean and Upkeep Your Grill So It Works Correctly

Lastly, you should always keep your Pit Boss (or any smoker grill, for that matter) clean so it operates properly.

Remember: Outdoor cooking is a safe activity when done correctly. But unfortunately, a lack of regular maintenance can make cooking unsafe.

The chart below is a guideline for how often you should clean each of the parts on your grill.

Of course, you can’t go wrong with more frequent cleaning, but this is a good starting point.

Grill PartCleaning FrequencyHow to Clean
Bottom of main grillEvery 5-6 usesScoop out, vacuum excess debris
Fire potEvery 2-3 usesScoop out, vacuum excess debris
Cooking gridsAfter each useBurn off excess and use a brass wire brush
Flame broilerEvery 5-6 usesScrape main plate with slider, don’t wash
Front shelfAfter each useScrub pad & soapy water
Grease bucketAfter each useScrub pad & soapy water
Auger feed systemWhen pellet bag is emptyAllow auger to push out sawdust
Hopper electric componentsAnnuallyDust interior, wipe fan blades with soapy water
Air intake ventEvery 5-6 usesDust, scrub pad & soapy water
Temperature probeEvery 2-3 usesScrub pad & soapy water

Frequently Asked Questions

In case you didn’t find what you were looking for in this troubleshooting guide, here are a few more related questions you might have.

Should Smoke Be Coming From the Pellet Hopper?

Smoke from the hopper doesn’t mean the pellets will catch on fire. Instead, it implies an airflow issue. In this case, the fan isn’t forcing the smoke out correctly, so it escapes into the hopper.

Can You Leave a Pit Boss on the Smoke Setting?

Yes, you can use the “smoke” setting for your entire cooking session. Further, you can use the P-settings to determine how many wood pellets are pushed through the auger, which controls the temperature.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know how to get your Pit Boss smoker grill to produce optimal smoke, it’s time to put this knowledge into practice.

Remember to operate your grill on a level surface, keep an eye on the control panel for error codes, use dry hardwood pellets, cook between 180°F and 257°F, and clean and upkeep your grill regularly.

With these tips in mind, you can start cooking some fantastic smoked barbecue meals!

Matt Hollingshead is the founder of Grill Mentor, a site with everything you need to know about grilling and barbecuing, from tips and techniques to recipes and more.
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