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Kamado Joe Underbite
With a Kamado Joe, the term “Underbite” or “Overbite” refers to the way the domed lid meets the grill body and gasket. This can significantly impact the performance of your grill. Not to mention making it very hard to properly control the heat during slow and low cooks, like barbecue.
Several things can cause an underbite or an overbite on a Kamado Joe.
Moving the grill can sometimes pull the rear airlift hinge out of alignment. Sometimes a long, high-heat cooking session can cause the bottom band to slip out of alignment.
Fortunately, underbite and overbite issues are relatively easy to fix on a Kamado Joe. It usually requires a ratchet and/or an open face wrench. The size might vary depending on the make and model of your Kamado Joe, but it’s likely going to be a 7/16 or a 10 mm (3/8) socket.
The severity of your Kamado Joe’s underbite or overbite will determine the necessary repair. Many times it’s simply a matter of realigning the upper bands on the domed lid.
This is done by first locking the airlift hinge with the little tool kit, nut, and washer that came with your Kamado Joe.
You can then loosen, but not remove the six nuts at the back of the upper band near the hinge.
This will give you enough wiggle room to move your lid back into alignment with the lower body of the grill. You can then tighten them in the new alignment. You might also need to adjust the alignment of the latch or alter the height using a small Allen wrench.
If your Kamado Joe has a more serious underbite, and/or the gasket is worn out, you might need to completely disconnect the band, the handle, and the latch to fully restore proper alignment.
What Causes Kamado Joe Underbite?
Moving a Kamado Joe or cooking on high heat for a long cooking session are two of the most common things that can cause an underbite on a Kamado Joe.
This can cause problems with the alignment of the rear airlift hinge, or something as minor as a deviation in the alignment of the latch.
Can You Prevent Kamado Joe Underbite?
Being careful when you move your Kamado Joe and making sure that your bands are always tight are the two best ways to ensure that you don’t develop an underbite issue.
If you are cooking over very high heat for a long session, or you are doing something like grilling pizza, which requires opening and closing the lid a lot, you want to do so slowly.
Quickly opening the lid on your Kamado Joe when it is very hot can also cause the bands to come out of alignment.
How To Fix Kamado Joe Underbite
Fixing an underbite on a Kamado Joe starts with diagnosing all the potential pressure points and areas of misalignment. You might even notice that some areas along the gasket seem to be leaking smoke.
You can get a better understanding of how severe the alignment issue is by opening the lid and inserting a dollar bill or a playing card.
Close the lid and the bill or the card should not pull out easily. If it does pull out easily, note that area, as you will need to double-check it later in the repair process.
If you think about it as a compass, you want to check north, south, east, and west, as well as on both sides by the airlift hinge.
The severity of the underbite or overbite will influence the type of repair you need to perform.
Fixing a Latch Alignment Problem on a Kamado Joe
A lot of times a minor underbite or overbite on a Kamado Joe shows up as a latch alignment problem.
In many of these cases, there aren’t any serious leaks and the dollar bill test didn’t reveal any major problems, but the latch itself is very hard to secure when you close the lid or might even pop open.
To fix this you need to adjust the small nuts and bolts on the lid and/or the base of the latch. You might only need to loosen the two nuts on the lid to gently move them back into alignment with the latch assembly on the lower firebox.
If the problem persists, you might need to use a tiny Allen wrench to adjust the Allen hex screw on the top of the latch. This allows you to make minute vertical changes in the latch clip.
Fixing a Kamado Joe Air Lift Hinge Alignment Issue
One of the more serious causes of an underbite or overbite on a Kamado Joe lid is linked to problems with the alignment of the rear airlift hinge.
Fixing a problem like this is a fair amount of work, but can be done with a modest amount of mechanical sympathy and a basic home tool kit.
If your alignment issue is limited to just the top brands, you won’t need to adjust the bottom band of the Kamado Joe, which will save you a lot of time.
Step One: Set up a ratchet with a 10 mm (3/8) socket, and make sure you have full access to the rear of the Kamado Joe.
Step Two: Use the Kamado Joe tool kit pouch to lock the airlift hinge. To do this you need to slide the metal sleeve onto the threaded bolt under and behind the airlift hinge. Once it’s in place slip on the washer and the nut. Finger-tighten and then ratchet until the hinge is fully locked.
Step Three: Use the 10 mm socket to loosen, but not remove the six bolts on the back of the Kamado Joe’s lid.
Step Four: Take hold of the lid handle and gently move the upper band back into alignment with the lower lip of your Kamado Joe.
Step Five: Tighten the six bolts, without moving the lid.
Fixing a Kamado Joe Alignment Issue with Gasket Replacement
If you have a serious alignment issue with leaks from a worn out or damaged gasket, you will need to perform the same five steps as you would for fixing an airlift hinge alignment issue, though you will completely remove the six nuts by the airlift hinge in step three and skip step five. You then use the following steps.
Step Six: Use a ratchet and Allen hex key to loosen the large nut holding the upper band onto the lid assembly.
Step Seven: Carefully lift the domed lid off the Kamado Joe’s base and set it someplace safe.
Step Eight: Replace the gasket if necessary
Step Nine: Seat the domed lid on the grill body as perfectly aligned as possible.
Step Ten: Remove the latch from the lower grill body for better access before tightening.
Step Eleven: Mate the bands back together and finger tighten the large bolt that marries both ends of the upper band to the lid. Check the alignment again before tightening with a 10 mm ratchet and Allen key.
Step Twelve: Secure the six rear nuts again in symmetrical order starting with the outermost on the left then the outermost on the right and on inward until all six are tightened back in place. As you are tightening keep an eye on the alignment of the dome to make sure it isn’t changing.
Step Thirteen: Check the alignment of the dome one last time before putting the latch back in place.
Step Fourteen: Release the nut, washer, and bolt sleeve from the back of the airlift hinge.
Step Fifteen: Perform the dollar bill/card test to check for air gaps and areas of misalignment.
Kamado Joe Alignment Kit
All Kamado Joes come with a tiny tool kit pouch, known as a “Disengagement Tool” which is designed to let you lock the airlift hinge.
It plays a critical role in adjusting, tightening, and realigning the grill’s bands. Without it, the pneumatic pressure of the hinge could release causing damage and possible bodily harm.
If you lost yours, Kamado Joe sells them in their accessories listing on their website by searching for the term “Replacement Disengagement Tool.”
It only costs $5, but make sure it is compatible with your model number.
The other tools you might need to correct an underbite or overbite on your Kamado Joe’s lid include small Allen wrenches and a ratchet with a 10 mm (3/8) socket.
If you have a severe alignment issue and/or your gasket needs to be replaced you might want to also keep a torque wrench handy.
Kamado Joe Lid Adjustment
Adjusting the lid alignment of your Kamado Joe can be done by locking the bolt at the back of the airlift hinge with the tool kit pouch that came with your Kamado Joe.
You can then loosen, but don’t remove the six nuts at the back of the lid band. This should give you enough wiggle room to correct a minor lid alignment issue.
Afterward, you might need to use a small Allen wrench to adjust the height of the latch to make sure the upper and lower lid latch assemblies marry tightly.
You might also need to use a 10 mm socket to lightly loosen the nuts holding the upper latch in place to realign it with the lower latch assembly in the newly aligned position.