The Traeger Grill Hot Rod
If a Traeger grill works best keeping the lid shut, so that the wood pellets create an insulating wood oven effect with the built-up heat inside, how does a person know what the starting temperature is without opening the lid and letting the heat escape? Simple. They use a grill system hot rod to start and raise the heat quickly.
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What is a Traeger Hot Rod?
The hot rod inside a Traeger grill operates a bit like an igniter. The wood pellets are designed to fall into the burner with gravity, but it is the hot rod that actually gets hot enough to ignite the pellets and push them into a full heat mode that generates the cooking temperature needed.
When the rod is working correctly, it turns red hot and provides sufficient heat for the wood pellets next to it to start burning.
How do I Know if my Traeger Hot Rod is Bad?
One of the key problems with anything that gets hot over time is that the constant temperature stress ends up wearing down the component. Eventually a Traeger hot rod is going to start losing its ability to heat up correctly.
When this occurs, the rod needs to be replaced. Not doing so could end up resulting in a lower heat production, which in turn means undercooked food. And that can become a health problem with certain types of foods that need a higher heat to reach internal safe temperatures.
The most tell-tale sign of a hot rod that’s no longer working right is, when it is on, the rod is not glowing red hot. Anything less than that temperature is a faulty part. It should go red very quickly and stay that way for the first 4-5 minutes of operation.
Where is the Hot Rod on a Traeger Grill
The Traeger hot rod is located in the bottom of the Firepot. It’s a rail-style assembly held in place by the rest of the firepot components. Once all of these items are removed, then you can access the hot rod.
The unit has to be at the bottom so that the wood pellets fall into place for exposure to the hot rod’s heat. The unit works by control with a setting on the outside of the Traeger for the desired temperature. Once turned on, the unit does its job heating up wood pellets and starting the temperature rise inside the Traeger.
How to Remove Hot Rod from Traeger Grill
As mentioned above, the hot rod sits underneath everything that makes up the firepot. So, you will have to remove the firepot itself, the head deflector, drip pan and then, finally, four securing screws that hold the hot rod in place.
When all is disassembled, the hot rod can be slid out of its housing and removed for a replacement. There are a number of videos online that folks can watch for free explaining the disassembly process visually, which is a good idea before doing anything with your Traeger.
Traeger Grill Hot Rod Replacement
The ideal replacement for a hot rod swap is to use Traeger parts. These have been fabricated specific to the Traeger units and designed to work with them correctly.
While there can be aftermarket parts available, it’s not recommended to use them. They might not fit correctly or, worse, they may malfunction and cause heating problems.
Traeger Hot Rod Problems
Again, the biggest problem involves the hot rod not heating up properly. There is no in-between; it needs to get red hot within the first minute and stay at that high point to work properly when starting the Traeger.
If it is not doing so, or heating but not turning red, then the unit is faulty and needs to be replaced. The causes are typically associated with a wiring burn out inside the unit from age and constant radical temperature change.
How Often to Replace a Traeger Hot Rod?
Most customers find the Traeger hot rod lasts for quite a while. A good number of customers have Traeger grills working fine at well over eight years of regular use.
So, it’s unlikely that a hot rod is going to fail right away after a grille purchase unless the unit is faulty to begin with. In these cases, the consumer should exercise the warranty on the Traeger to have it repaired.
Traeger grilles must always have a heat element in the bottom center to light up the fuel wood pellets correctly. The Traeger hot rod is designed to do the job, consistently burning the pellets so they start the heat reaction inside the grille.
A proper working hot rod turns bright red when working and then cools off after 4-5 minutes. It’s fireproof and designed to be inside the grille without problems. Used right, they could last close to a decade before needing replacement.
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.
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