Heat is one of the three most important parts of your barbecue. Too hot, and you end up with burnt, ruined, or tough meats. Too cold, and you could leave your guests hungry or worse, make them sick!
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Understanding how to make your Weber Smokey Mountain hotter or colder is a vital part of your barbecue learning journey. It’s also essential to learn how to maintain heat, how much fuel you need, and when to refuel on longer smokes.
Temperature control can be hard to master. It’s very easy to get your barbecue to the desired heat and then go over this.
This is why learning the point in which you need to start maintaining the temperature is something you will only master over time.
It is much easier to gradually increase the temperature of your smoker than it is to decrease the temperature.
If your WSM is new then there is a good chance you need to season it a little before it will begin to settle down. You may also find that outside conditions affect how quickly your Weber heats up or cools down.
The Weber Smokey Mountain has a huge following and part of the reason for this is the ease of use.
Novices can learn how to manage temperatures and how to maintain heat.
However, it is still an art that requires practice.
A new WSM may run hotter than a used one. Wind blowing up through the bottom vents could stoke your fire, using more of your fuel and increasing the temperature.
As your meat cooks the temperature will rise also. Water pans also help make temperature control easier, particularly on the longer smokes.
The WSM is also equipped with a fantastic venting system that can be used to make changes to the temperature.
The intake vents have four holes that can be closed independently to increase or decrease the flow of oxygen under the fuel.
The exhaust vent can also be partially closed to decrease the temperature. Weber has done everything it can to make temperature control simple and effective but, no matter how much experience you have, things can still go wrong.
Let’s take a look at some of the issues people have.
Weber Smokey Mountain Not Hot Enough
If you are struggling to get your Weber Smokey Mountain to heats above 200 degrees there are a few things to do.
Check your thermometer – the first place to start would be to ensure your thermometer is reading correctly. You can check the accuracy of your built-in thermometer with boiling water.
Check your fuel – if you aren’t using enough fuel then your WSM will not reach the temperatures you need. You will need to increase fuel for larger cuts of meat.
Increase airflow – check your exhaust vent is fully open and then increase the airflow by opening your intake vents. In severe cases, you could also open the access door a little.
Remove water – you could try to remove the water from your water pan or take out the entire pan
If none of the above work, consider the elements your WSM is exposed to. It might be worth creating a windbreak or an insulated smoking box.
How To Increase Heat In Weber Smokey Mountain
If you find the WSM is running a low temperature open up your exhaust vent and intake vents fully, Let the WSM run like this for 15 minutes to see if the temperature starts to go up. If the temperature rises up sharply you can adjust the vents bit by bit until you reach the temperature you require. Your exhaust vent should always be open more than your intake vents to encourage maximum airflow.
You should also add more fuel than you need at the start. Adding fuel mid smoke will involve opening the chamber door which could decrease the temperature inside the smoker.
If you are still struggling to increase the temperature, it might be time to look at the type of fuel you are using. Charcoal briquettes are beginner-friendly so if you are using lump coal, try switching and see if this helps.
How Hot Can You Get A Weber Smokey Mountain?
There is no definitive answer to this question as it depends on several factors including the fuel you use, outside temperatures, and airflow. Some WSM users claim to have reached temperatures of well over 500 degrees.
How Much Charcoal To Reload In A WSM?
You should always aim to start your WSM with enough charcoal to see you through the smoke, plus a little extra. If you do need to reload your Weber Smokey Mountain then you can do so via the chute method. The amount of charcoal you need will depend on the length of time remaining. A good starting point would be to put in some unlit charcoal briquettes and then 30-40 briquettes lit for an hour of smoke remaining. This may change depending on the weather and the amount of meat you have inside the smoker. Don’t forget to refill the water pan if you need to.
What Makes A WSM Lose Heat?
Lack of airflow – If your vents are closed then you will slowly starve the fuel of oxygen which will eventually extinguish the coals and you will notice a loss of heat.
Damp coals – if your charcoal has become damp then you won’t be able to maintain heat.
Too much ash – cleaning out your charcoal chamber is essential as too much ash can prevent airflow
Outside temperature – your WSM can withstand a variety of climates but heavy rain, wind, and extreme cold can cause heat loss.
Weber Smokey Mountain Temperature Dropping
Temperature drop can happen on your Weber Smokey Mountain. Often this is due to a lack of airflow, damp fuel, or outside temperature. Other things can affect the temperature of your WSM including the position of your water pan. Ensure that you aren’t smothering your fire with the placement of your pan.
Maintaining Temperature In Weber Smokey Mountain
Getting your vents set correctly is one of the best ways to maintain the temperature in your WSM. You should always start with your exhaust vent fully open. Make adjustments using the intake vents first and ensure you wait at least 15 minutes between each adjustment to give your smoker time to settle.
Using your water pan will also help you to stabilize your temperature. For fast and hot smokes, you may want to cook without water in the pan as it will control the temperature your smoker reaches. For low and slow smokes, using water is ideal as it will prevent your smoker from reaching over 250 degrees.
Does Opening The Vents On A Smoker Make It Hotter?
Opening the vents on your Weber Smokey Mountain allows more airflow through your smoker. This helps to increase the heat. If you want to maintain your heat you do this by closing off some of the intake vents under the fuel. Your exhaust vent should always be opened more than the intake vents. This ensures you have a vacuum effect to help draw air through.
How To Control Temperature Weber Smokey Mountain
Use your vents to control the temperature in your Weber Smokey Mountain. If you want to increase the heat then you should have all of your vents wide open. To maintain your temperature, make small adjustments to the vents to restrict airflow and stabilize the heat. Make sure you have a good thermometer and ensure you don’t let your WSM run too hot as it is more difficult to decrease the temp than it is to increase it.
A water pan will really help to keep your temperature steady and controlled if you are cooking low and slow.
This article was written by Robert McCall, the founder of bbqdropout.com. Robert also owns and operates the BBQ dropout YouTube channel where he demonstrates his first-hand experience cooking all kinds of meats and strives to provide helpful, authoritative content for people looking how to barbecue.
He primarily hand writes the bulk of the content but occasionally will leverage AI assisted tools, such as chatGPT, to properly edit and format each blog post on this website. This ensures a pleasurable reading experience for visitors. Read more about our editorial policies here. If there are any improvements that can be made to this article, reach out to us directly at email@example.com