Smoke Coming out of Hopper

What's in This Article?

Smoke coming out of the hopper is not normal behavior; however, it is not usually dangerous. If you feel any sense of alarm that pellets in the hopper are at risk of catching fire, please go directly to Billowing Smoke below and follow the steps listed there.

Smoke Coming from Hopper during a Cook

This may seem alarming, but seeing smoke coming from the hopper during a cook is indicative of an airflow issue, not the pellets in the hopper ready to catch on fire. Typically, the fan is not blowing enough to create the correct pressure to vacuum out the exhaust, thus allowing smoke to escape from the hopper.

  1. Make sure the grill is on a level surface.
  2. If not already turned on, turn on and start the grill.
  3. Listen for the induction fan (a soft, intermittent whirling sound).
    1. If you can't hear the fan spinning, remove the hopper access panel if your grill has one. This is either the bottom or side panel of your hopper.
    2. Find the induction fan.
    3. If the fan isn't spinning, try to spin the fan manually.
    4. If the fan does not begin spinning, replace the fan. 
  4. If your grill is a WiFIRE grill, check to see if the induction fan is installed upside down.
    An upside-down fan will push air to the hopper rather than to the firepot, where the air should be going. 
    1. On the side of the fan, small arrows indicate the direction of airflow. The arrows should point toward the firepot/center of the grill.
    2. You can also check this by (after the grill is cooled down) removing the grates, drip tray, and heat baffle, turning on the grill, and placing your hand near the firepot to feel if the air is coming out. 
  5. Check for proper Grill Maintenance
    • A buildup of ash can cause airflow issues and can cause smoke to move back through the auger into the hopper. 
  6. Check the Chimney Height, if applicable. 
    • Grills with a chimney should have approximately a thumb's space (¾ inch or 2cm) between the chimney and the cap. Twist the chimney to get the appropriate height.  
    • Having too low of a chimney cap can restrict airflow, forcing smoke to come out of the hopper. This can result in having ash on your food. 

Smoke Coming from Hopper during Shutdown (Backburn)

Smoke coming out of the hopper during Shutdown Mode is called backburn, and it usually only happens with AC (non-WiFIRE) grills. Backburn means that the pellets within the auger are heating to a smoke point, and that smoke is escaping through the hopper. 

If your grill is backburning, proceed with the following:

  1. Turn the grill to SMOKE.
    • This will begin feeding the pellets within the auger into the firepot.
  2. Allow your grill to run until the grill's temperature decreases to below 225F.
  3. Set the grill to Shutdown.
    • Lowering the temperature before Shutdown can help reduce the chances of pellets within the auger igniting. 

Billowing Smoke & Hopper Fires

Excessive smoke from the hopper is due to active backburn (pellets burning in the auger causing excessive smoke).

  1. Unplug the grill.
  2. Keep both the grill and hopper lid closed to starve the fire of oxygen.
  3. If there is NOT an active fire, perform a shutdown procedure and keep all components closed. After the grill cools down, remove any burned pellets from the hopper.
  4. See Grill Fires for more info.

If you have any questions, please contact our Customer Support


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