A while back I purchased a Traeger because many people will swear that you have not grilled until you have grilled with a Traeger. Traeger’s innovative wood pellet grills provide a flavorful finish that gas and charcoal grills simply cannot match, while their ability to reach temperatures of up to 500 degrees makes it possible to do any type of cooking.
So, what’s the deal when you ignite your Traeger, and it scarcely gets any hotter than the ambient temperature? I love my Traeger, but I recently came across this issue so I turned to the web to learn all I could about it and this is what I found.
A Traeger that does not heat up is most likely due to a deteriorated hot rod. The hot rod is the element located at the bottom of the firepot used to ignite the wood pellets and keep the fire burning. Most Traeger hot rods will wear out after a couple of years.
While a deteriorated hot rod is typically the cause of a Traeger not heating up there may be a few other reasons as well. Some of these are:
- A deteriorated hot rod element.
- Too much ash build up in the firepot is causing poor airflow.
- The chimney cap on the Traeger is too tight causing poor airflow.
- A week induction fan.
While a bad hot rod is the most likely culprit behind my Traeger not heating up, it is also possible that my grill’s low temperature is due to insufficient airflow to the grill. Whatever the case, the fix is most likely simple, and I was able to get my Traeger back up to full temperature without much delay.
Traeger Not Heating Up Due to a Bad Hot Rod
It is most likely that your Traeger is not heating up due to a bad hot rod. The hot rod is the “switch” that ignites the firepot’s wood pellets, providing the spark that keeps the pellets burning and the temperature rising.
While the hot rod makes it possible to get all of the benefits of grilling over a natural wood fire with none of the hassles of actually building a fire, it is common for hot rods to wear out after a couple of years.
A replacement hot rod can be purchased on Amazon or directly on the Traeger website. The new element can be installed relatively easily through a DIY repair, or you can take your Traeger into a grill shop for professional service.
Other Cause of Traeger Not Heating Up: Poor Airflow
If you have determined that the hot rod is not the issue behind your Traeger not heating properly, you are likely dealing with poor airflow.
Air is a vital component in getting a fire to burn at high temperatures (think about how bellows are used to stoke a traditional fire), so if your Traeger is not getting hot enough, you may be dealing with an airflow issue.
Too Much Ash Built Up in the Firepot
The firepot is the area of the Traeger in which the wood pellets are placed. It provides the fuel for the fire that is ignited by the hot rod.
However, for the pellets to burn properly, they must be in an environment conducive to combustion, and the air is a top priority, with air inlets located throughout the firepot. Dirty firepots with excessive ash buildup will restrict the flow of air entering the firepot, causing the pellets to burn cooler than desired. Furthermore, excess ash buildup can cause rust to form in the firepot, creating another barrier that can impact the burning environment.
Thoroughly clean the firepot of all ash and see if that helps get the grill to burn hotter.
Tightened Chimney Cap
The chimney cap is a threaded rod that screws onto the top of the grill. The lower it is tightened, the more it restricts the airflow into the Traeger, which lessens the amount of heat the grill can produce.
In most cases, the chimney cap should be as high (loose) as possible, permitting ample air to flow into the grill. The only time that the chimney cap should be significantly tightened is during times of high winds.
Weak Induction Fan
The induction fan circulates smoke throughout the cook chamber, distributing the natural wood flavor for which Traegers are so famous. While flavor is the primary purpose of the induction fan, it is still an important factor in ensuring that the temperature remains consistent throughout the cook chamber.
A failing induction fan can lead to inconsistencies in temperature due to poorly circulated air, so it could be a culprit behind your Traeger’s low temperatures.
The Traeger is a famous grill for delivering a wood smoke flavor with none of the hassles of actually building an actual wood fire. However, after a couple of years’ use, your Traeger may not heat up properly.
The most likely culprit is a failed hot rod—the element that ignites the wood pellets and keeps them burning at high temperatures in the firepot. If the hot rod is determined not to be the issue, then poor airflow is the likely cause of a cold Traeger. Cleaning ash buildup in the firepot, loosening the chimney cap, and checking the induction can be important considerations, as well.