Traeger Pellets on Fire
The small wood fibers and dust inside a bag of Traeger wood pellets can sometimes make their way from the hopper into the auger shaft.
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During a long smoking session, the auger and the surrounding shaft can get so hot that it causes any trapped particulate matter to smolder.
Known as a “Burn Back” this troublesome incident can sometimes start a small fire in the bottom of a Traeger’s wood pellet hopper.
Left unchecked this burn back can cause the flammable pellets in the hopper to light on fire.
Not only can this mess with the performance of your Traeger grill, but it can cause severe damage that might not be covered by Traeger’s warranty.
Especially if the pellets you are using are from another manufacturer.
It’s also possible for wood pellets to break down with prolonged exposure to humidity.
As the water-soluble lignin binder starts to degrade stray wood fibers can end up in the bottom of the hopper, increasing the same risk of auger jams and burn back problems.
This is why most Traeger grills have a pellet purge door on the hopper, to let you empty out all the wood pellets after each smoking session.
Then you also need to run the auger for a minute or two to make sure that all the pellets are cleared out of the shaft.
It is also possible for excess grease, oil, and rendered fat in a Traeger to catch fire.
This is usually the result of lax maintenance and poor cleaning practices that allow grease to linger in the lower recesses of the primary smoking chamber.
Over the course of a long, hot grilling session this grease can get hot enough to catch fire causing a smoldering type of grease fire.
Here again, Traeger is unlikely to honor warranty coverage for damages caused by a grease fire.
These incidents are typically voided in the warranty due to poor maintenance and abusive practices.
If your Traeger’s pellet hopper catches fire, you should unplug it immediately, and leave the lid closed on the primary smoking chamber as well as the pellet hopper.
Without oxygen, the fire will eventually suffocate and snuff itself out.
If there is something flammable near the burning Traeger, carefully move the grill away.
Never pour water into the hopper, but if the flames are threatening to get out of control, you can use a fire extinguisher in an emergency.
Why Are My Traeger Pellets Catching Fire?
Traeger pellets can catch fire when dust and excess wood fibers get trapped in the auger shaft.
Over the course of a long smoking session, the hot metal can cause these fibers to smolder.
Left unchecked, they can even catch fire and spread flames to the lower portion of the hopper.
Once this happens it is easily possible for the rest of the flammable wood pellets to catch fire as well.
Are Traeger Pellets Flammable?
Traeger pellets are made from exceptionally dry wood fibers and natural lignin binders which makes them very flammable.
Early indicators of a possible burn back incident occurring in the lower hopper might include a strange grinding noise in the auger, changes in the grill’s performance, and even smoke wafting up through the wood pellet hopper.
Do Traeger Grills Catch on Fire?
When properly cleaned, maintained, and filled with thoroughly sifted wood pellets, it is next to impossible for a Traeger grill to catch fire of its own accord.
When wood fibers are allowed to sit in the lower hopper and enter the auger shaft, the heat of the surrounding metal can cause them to smolder and catch fire.
This is the sort of thing that typically occurs if you haven’t been sifting your pellets before adding them to the hopper, or you have a bad habit of not purging your Traeger’s hopper after every grilling session.
If you have been lax about cleaning and properly maintaining your Traeger, you could also suffer a grease fire inside the lower portion of the primary smoking chamber.
This is why it’s so important to always clean excess grease off the grease plate and empty your grease trap after every cook.
Traeger even recommends giving your grill a good deep cleaning after every 2 to 3 uses or 20 hours of operation.
Is It Normal for Traeger Pellets to Catch Fire?
When wood pellets are properly sifted and purged, it is very rare for pellets to catch fire in a Traeger.
Though it is possible during a very long smoking session for the auger and auger shaft to get so hot that they can cause some of the wood pellets in the lower hopper to smolder.
Left unnoticed, this could cause a fire in the bottom of the hopper.
What to Do If Traeger Pellets Catch Fire?
You need to keep a level head if the pellets catch fire in your Traeger’s hopper, and immediately unplug the grill.
Then make sure that the lid on the grill and hopper are firmly shut to limit oxygen from feeding the fire further.
If there is anything flammable nearby the grill, you should gently move it away to prevent the fire from spreading.
You should never pour water into the hopper or smoking chamber.
In a severe incident where the fire looks like it is going to get out of control, you can use a rated fire extinguisher to put the flames out.
Otherwise, it’s best to let the fire suffocate itself.
Stray dust and wood fibers at the bottom of a bag of Traeger wood pellets that make their way into the hopper can gradually find their way into the auger shaft.
Throughout a long smoking session, the heat of the auger screw can cause these wood fibers to smolder and possibly even catch fire.
This dangerous “Burn Back” can potentially progress to start a small fire in the bottom of your Traeger’s wood pellet hopper.
In time, it can even cause flammable pellets in the hopper to light on fire, which can cause severe damage that might not be covered by Traeger’s warranty.
It’s also possible for prolonged exposure to high humidity to cause the water-soluble binder to degrade.
This can also deposit stray wood fibers in the bottom of the hopper, which can cause a burn-back problem during your next grilling session.
To prevent these problems, you should sift your wood pellets before adding them to the Traeger’s hopper, then make sure to empty out all the wood pellets after every grilling session.
You should also run the auger for a minute or two to make sure that all the pellets are cleared out of the shaft.
Grease fires are also a concern if you have a bad habit of procrastinating routine cleaning and maintenance.
Even a modest amount of lingering grease in the bottom of the smoking chamber can start to smolder and catch fire during a long smoking session.
If the wood pellets in your Traeger’s hoper catch fire, you need to unplug the grill. Leave the lid closed on the smoking chamber and the pellet hopper to suffocate the flames.
If there are flammables nearby, you should carefully move your Traeger away.
Never pour water into the hopper.
You can use a fire extinguisher in an emergency where the flames are threatening to get out of control.
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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