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Traeger Pellets Burning In Auger? (Here’s Why)

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Lots of bellowing smoke coming out of any kind of a grill or smoker is bad news. It usually means something has gone wrong, and fire is going somewhere it shouldn’t be.

Grill malfunctions and accidents tend to be the primary reason BBQ or grilling accidents turn into house fires.

So, it’s serious business when any kind of a grill malfunctions.

With Traegers, a number of processes can create risk, particularly the auger where the fuel pellets sit before they go into the firepot chamber. 

Traeger Pellets Burning in Auger

The auger assembly is designed to manage the flow of the Traeger wood pellets so that they don’t all drop into the firepot at the same time as well as ensure that there is constant fuel feed for the grill as it consumes the pellets already being burned.

However, fuel pellets are, fundamentally, combustible. So, they don’t choose when and where they start to burn.

If exposed to enough heat, fuel pellets will burn wherever they happen to be.

In a backfire situation, the heat has built up to such a level that it starts to catch the pellets on fire enough that those in the auger start to burn as well.

When that occurs, the resulting heat from the combined pellets can be enough to damage the auger, spreading the fire to the rest of the stock as well as blocking the flow to the firepot. 

Why are my Pellets Burning in an Auger?

Again, fuel pellets are combustible.

Exposed to enough heat, they burn anywhere, not just in one location in the Traeger grill. However, more importantly, something has gone wrong with the firepot, which is where the heat and burning should be contained.

The fact that the heat escaped and traveled up the auger means that the proper venting of the heat from the fire pot did not work properly, and instead the heat travel up the auger instead.

So, there’s really two problems to fix: the venting blockage as well as stopping the fire burning in the auger. 

Is it Normal for Pellets to be Burning in an Auger?

No, in a word, it is not normal. The auger shouldn’t be burning anything at all. As mentioned earlier, that’s the component where the fuel pellets feed from.

If it were to allow burning, the entire pellet stock would eventually go up in flames.

That it has any kind of burning at all is a malfunction, usually in the form of a backfire caused by pressure pushing the heat into the auger channel. 

How do I fix the Auger on my Traeger?

Lots of smoke is definitely a signal that the fire and heat is burning incorrect, especially coming out of the pellet hopper which is above the auger.

The first step is to cut the power to the grill by unplugging it from any power source. Next, every opening for the grill should be shut and closed.

This will cause the heat and fire inside to basically eat up all of its oxygen and burn out.

Once completed and cooled down, the system can be cleaned out, but don’t do anything with removal until the heat is completely gone. You don’t want to be sticking your fingers in a hot spot by accident.

Finally, if the fire is not burning badly, run a Traeger shutdown process, again keeping all the lids and components closed off.

After everything is thoroughly cooled, cleaning out the system and removing any blockages can be done.

Definitely inspect the auger to make sure the backfire didn’t cause damage or warping. If so, it needs to be replaced. 

What Pellets Should i be Using in a Traeger?

Ideally, your fuel material should be brand name Traeger fuel pellets. These have been specifically designed to work with Traeger grills. However, some folks will want to use substitutes as they may be at lower cost.

If so, the pellets should be the right side for the grill model as well as 100 percent compressed wood.

Do not use bigger pellets as they will jam up and non-wood pellets may burn hotter than normal causing backfires faster than the heat can vent properly.

Final Thoughts

Once everything is gone over, a thorough cleaning of the grill should be done. Any kind of loose buildup, ash, carbon and similar should be removed completely.

When done, a number of minor problems and issues are probably going to disappear as well. Waste and carbon building up over time do tend to be a cause of hot spots, particularly with material that hasn’t been completely burned through.

In any case, always practice grill safety by having some form of an extinguisher available and handy when cooking.

You won’t have much time to respond once a full grill fire gets going. Preparing ahead of time gives you the ability to nip things in the bud quickly.