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Smoker Temp Keeps Dropping? | Here’s what to do

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Why Does My Smoker Temp Keep Dropping?

Using a smoker is a great way to get slow cooked and incredibly flavorful meats.

However, setting up your smoker, getting it to temp and keeping it there is an important part of the process and can be tricky to pull off.

If you’ve used a smoker and had trouble keeping the temperature where it needs to be, then this guide will help you get things right. 

Why Does My Smoker Keep Going Out? 

It happens quite often, you start up your smoker, you get everything going, and then out of nowhere it goes out.

It can be frustrating constantly restarting your smoker without knowing the reason it keeps going out. 

Most often, the reason for your smoker going completely out is because it is essentially being suffocated.

Proper airflow is needed to keep the fire lit. Failing to open the air vents to allow air to circulate into the firebox will result in the fire going out. 

Keeping at least one of the air vents partially open will keep air flowing and keep the fire from going out. 

What To Do If Your Smoker Temp Keeps Dropping?

It can be incredibly frustrating to get your smoker up and running only for the temperature to drop off part way through the smoking process.

Consistent temperature and smoke are the key ingredients to proper meat smoking. 

The reason for the temperature dropping is usually because you haven’t added enough fuel.

For example, if using charcoal, the temperature will likely start off high and drop off sharply as the time passes.

The solution is to add more fuel. 

It is a good idea when setting up your smoker to overestimate the amount of fuel that you think you’ll need.

This way you won’t risk the temperature dropping part way through the smoking process and can still lower the temperature if necessary. 

If you still experience temperature drops, it can be for a number of other reasons.

It’s important to check the smoker thoroughly including making sure the thermometer is reading correctly.

Making sure the smoker is sealed properly and not leaking is another issue to look out for. 

Using old charcoal, a water pan, and repeatedly opening your smoker will all also lower your temperature.

Remember to check the heating element on your smoker and to keep the vents open as well. 

What Not To Do If Smoker Temp Keeps Dropping?

It’s easy in the middle of smoking to want to do whatever you can when the temperature keeps dropping.

However, there are a few things that you should never do if the temperature keeps dropping. 

Don’t try to adjust or shut off the air vents as this will cause the fire to eventually go out.

You also don’t want to soak the wood as this actually lessens the amount of heat that is produced.

Do not add meat to the smoker or try adding new fuel on top of old both of these things will lower the temperature output further. 

How Do You Stabilize Smoker Temperatures?

It’s not only important to get the smoker lit and going, it’s important to keep the temperature high enough and consistent.

Inconsistent temperature will result in uneven smoking and undercooked meat. 

Depending on the smoker you want to keep the temperature in a range between 225 and 250 degrees.

If it fluctuates outside this range you have to take actions to adjust the temperature.

If the temperature is too low, you can open the vents wider to promote more air circulation to build the temperature back up.

Another solution is to use a fan to blow warm air into the chamber to increase the internal temperature artificially. 

If the temperature is too high you can close the vents (not completely shut) to lower the temperature to within the desired range.

You can also add more fuel if it seems like there’s too little to keep the temperature up. 

Should You Start Adding More Fuel?

It’s important to monitor the temperature and your fuel.

Even if the temperature is good, as you smoke, the temperature can change and you have to add fuel to keep the fire going.

If the temperature starts dropping as you add meat, you will need to add more wood chips or charcoal to adjust the temperature. 

There is no specific formula for adding more fuel, it’s important to monitor your smoker and the internal temperature and adjust the fuel level as necessary. 

How Much Fuel Is Enough?

There can be a lot of guesswork involved when it comes to how much fuel you should use.

While it can vary depending on the type of fuel used, charcoal, wood chips, or propane, a general rule of thumb is to fill the smoker box about three quarters of the way full to start with. 

You can always adjust the fuel level later or add more fuel as you smoke to keep the temperature regulated. 

Should You Open the Vents?

The vents on your smoker are used to control air flow and regulate the amount of heat that your smoker is producing.

Shutting the vents on your smoker completely will cause the fire in the firebox to go out so it’s important to always keep at least one of the vents part way open. 

You can adjust the vents to allow more or less air in to control the temperature.

Opening the vents more allows more air to enter the chamber and raises the temperature.

Shutting the vents lowers the temperature by restricting airflow. 

Smoker Temp Drops When Meat is Added

A common problem many first time meat smokers have is the temperature dropping whenever meat is added.

This is because large chunks of cold meat causes the ambient temperature inside the smoker to go down.

That’s why it’s important to constantly monitor the temperature and make adjustments so that the smoking temperature stays even for even smoking. 

Once you add meat to the smoker, opening the air vents or adding fuel to the box will help to compensate for the temperature loss. 

Final Thoughts 

Using a smoker is not an exact science. It requires patience and precision that many first time smokers have trouble with.

As long as you pay attention to your smoker and remember to control the fuel and the temperature, you can have high quality, deliciously smoked meats every time.