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Kamado Joe Jr Not Getting Hot Enough? (Explained) 

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Kamado Joe Jr Not Getting Hot Enough

A Kamado Joe Jr. that won’t get hot enough or heats up slowly, taking more than 15 minutes to get to 400 degrees is usually a sign of excess ash build-up that is restricting airflow.

No matter how much you open the lower damper or the lid vent, there simply won’t be enough fresh air flowing into the firebox to support vigorous combustion.

With a properly built coal bed, and the lower damper at least halfway open, your Kamado Joe should be able to reach a temperature of 400 to 450 degrees in 10 to 15 minutes.

You can use this as a general rule of thumb to determine if there is a problem with your Kamado Joe’s firebox.

Though if you are setting it up for a low-temperature indirect cooking session with the heat deflectors installed, it might take as long as 15 to 20 minutes to get up to around 250 degrees.

If your Kamado Joe is acting like this, then it is likely time for a serious deep cleaning.

This calls for carefully removing all the parts in the firebox, including the stainless steel top ring, the multi-panel ceramic walls, and the lower ceramic O-ring.

Make sure to pull out the ash catcher and remove all the ash down around the wings.

This should restore proper airflow to support a vigorous fire.

With a full deep cleaning, a vigorous fire, and the lower damper wide open, a Kamado Joe Jr. can technically reach a maximum temperature of up to 700 degrees.

Though you really don’t need to ever push the heat beyond 500-degrees.

Especially since excessive heating can lead to cracks in the lower firebox ceramic components and could cause a misalignment in the external metal bands that help the lid and ceramic body meet tightly.

Why Is My Kamado Joe Not Getting Hot Enough?

If your Kamado Joe isn’t getting hot enough it is most likely related to ash buildup in the lower firebox.

Especially if the Kamado Joe barely responds when you open the lower damper or the top vent. Most of the time all you need to do is give your Kamado Joe a good deep cleaning.

This calls for removing all the firebox components, including the multi-panel ceramic firebox, the ceramic O-ring, and the stainless steel top ring.

Then carefully clean all the ash out of the bottom of your Kamado Joe. Part of this deep cleaning process should also include cleaning any lingering grease or stuck-on ash from the moving parts around the ash catcher and the lower damper.

How Do I Increase the Temperature on my Kamado Joe?

Increasing the temperature of your Kamado Joe is usually as easy as opening the lower damper to let more air in to support more vigorous combustion.

Then open the upper vent, a little further to encourage airflow.

If you need a quick boost of heat and smoke, you can carefully add a handful or two of dry wood chips.

Just bear in mind that wood chips tend to flare up, which can make consistent temperature control challenging.

A slightly more controlled way to boost the airflow and drive up the temperature of the flame is to use a small hand fan or bellows.

Blowing flame directly into the lower damper will improve combustion in the firebox.

Though this is more effective for getting unburnt pieces of charcoal to ignite in the short term than it is for maintaining a consistently hot fire.

There is a charcoal basket accessory for the Kamado Joe Jr. that you might want to consider investing in.

It essentially cradles a load of charcoal creating more airspace around the flame to introduce fresh air.

This makes for a more vigorous burn and can make cleanup easier. Especially if you want to use your Kamado Joe Jr. as a portable grill.

How Long Does It Take for a Kamado Grill to Heat Up?

With a properly built coal bed, and the lower damper at least halfway open, your Kamado Joe should be able to reach a temperature of 400 to 450 degrees in 10 to 15 minutes.

If you need to accelerate the burn or reach a higher heat, you can open the lower damper and the top vent.

Generally, you want to open the upper vent half as much as you open the lower damper. This encourages airflow into the firebox to support vigorous combustion, while still trapping most of that heat under the domed lid.

Kamado Joe Jr Max Temp

Kamado Joe grills are engineered to have a maximum temperature of up to 750 degrees.

While you might be able to push the maximum temperature higher, you risk damaging the ceramic firebox and warping the stainless steel upper O-ring.

Excessive high heat can also warp or cause misalignment in the metal bands on your lid or exterior grill body.

Though you don’t really need to push the heat of your Kamado Joe beyond 500 degrees.

You can sear with confidence at less than 700 degrees, without having to worry about damaging your Kamado Joe grill.

Kamado Joe Jr. Heat Time

For direct flame grilling, your Kamado Joe should be able to reach a temperature of 400 to 500 degrees in around 10 to 15 minutes.

This is assuming you have a strong bed of jumbo lump charcoal and the lower damper is set at around three-quarters of the way open.

Final Thoughts

If your Kamado Joe Jr. isn’t getting hot enough or is preheating too slowly, it is likely linked to excessive ash buildup in the lower recesses of the firebox.

This usually requires a thorough deep cleaning to restore the kind of normal airflow necessary to support a vigorous charcoal flame.

A properly cleaned and well-maintained Kamado Joe should be able to reach 400 to 450 degrees or more in roughly 10 to 15 minutes.

This typically requires a hearty portion of jumbo lump charcoal in the firebox, with the heat deflectors removed and the lower damper halfway to three-quarters of the way open.

If you are planning for a lower temperature cook, with the damper mostly closed and the heat deflector in place, it might take 15 to 20 minutes to reach 250 degrees on the lid thermometer.

If your Kamado Joe’s firebox is properly clean and free of ash, you should be able to rapidly heat it up by opening the lower damper all the way and setting the upper vent at about half to three-quarters of the way open.

Using a small hand fan or manual bellows-like you would use to pump up an air mattress might also help drive more air through the lower damper into the firebox.

Though an easier way to rapidly heat up your Kamado Joe to 500 degrees or all the way up to a maximum of 700 degrees is to invest in a charcoal basket.

It’s made from thick-gauge stainless steel and allows air to surround the burning charcoal supporting vigorous combustion and even hotter fire.