Tips to Maximize Airflow on Your Yoder Smoker

Tips to Maximize Airflow on Your Yoder Smoker

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Keep The Air Flowing In Your Yoder Smokers Pellet Grill

Four Handy Tips for Maximizing Airflow

Like the human body, a grill must breathe well in order achieve maximum efficiency. One common problem that anyone could face is reduced airflow, which can alter cooking performance and food quality. When you start encountering airflow issues, you may think that the fan needs to be replaced. However, that isn’t always the case. Let’s explore the symptoms of reduced airflow and four key areas to check along with procedures to ensure optimal performance of your grill at all times.

Symptoms of Poor Airflow:

  1. Weak Fire: Have you noticed the fire isn’t as powerful as it once was? Is it burning straight up when it used to always blow toward the center of your grill? If you can't see the fans turning or hear them blowing, it's a telltale sign of airflow issues.
  1. Temperature Swings: Are you experiencing erratic temperature readings or struggling to reach higher temperatures? Temperature swings or an inability to achieve desired heat levels can indicate reduced airflow as well.
  1. Fires in the auger or pellet hopper: Has the fire been blown back into the hopper, causing unexpected fires? This situation occurs when airflow is compromised, leading to fire hazards and potential damage to your grill.

All of these are indicators that you aren’t getting the airflow your grill was capable of when new. This can happen to all grills, some issues are due to wear and tear on parts, others can be a symptom that your grill needs a good cleaning.


Pro tip: The worst time to find out you have a problem is in the middle of an important cook. Check your grill at least every six months to keep it in tip-top shape every time you cook. 

Inspect Your Chimney:

What goes in, must come out, this is especially true of your grill’s chimney. Over time, moisture, and other materials such as fats and other solids can accumulate in the chimney, which makes it difficult for air to leave the grill. Don’t overlook this step. Even a small amount of buildup can have a large impact on the dynamics of air leaving the cooking chamber. Countless times, our team has been working with grill owners who immediately began replacing parts only to realize that their chimney was disrupting airflow. Follow these steps to ensure a smooth path for air and solids to exhaust through the chimney:

- Remove the chimney using the thumb screw and inspect it for any buildup or obstructions.

- Clean out any excess buildup using appropriate tools or cleaning materials. Brushes and small scrapers work best. See here for more information on how to deep clean your Yoder Smoker.

How to Check Your Fans:

From keeping the fire stoked, to making sure your food always has heat passing over it, the fans in your pellet grill play a crucial role in maintaining proper airflow. Here's how to ensure they are functioning correctly:

- Turn on the power button without setting the temperature and do not push start, this allows both fans to run without igniting the grill.

- To check the outer fan, hold a thin piece of paper near the outer fan vent. It should be drawn towards and suctioned onto the vent as the paper gets closer. If not, you may have an outer fan not working.

- To check the inner fan, insert a paper clip into the outer fan vent to stop the blades from turning, then hold a thin paper just over the igniter in the firebox. The paper should blow away toward the center of the grill. If the doesn’t move, you may need to replace your inner fan.

- If one or both fans are not working properly, best practice is to replace both to avoid future issues. While you’re in there, this is a great time to upgrade to the new ball bearing fan kit to ensure smooth service well into the future.

Make sure your burn grate is in good shape and rests flat against the grill wall.

-To ensure the grill is burning efficiently, a visual inspection of the burn grate is required periodically. The burn grate should sit flat against the back wall of the fire box.
- Clean all holes in the burn grate with a wire brush to maximize airflow.
-Due to the intense heat that is created, the burn grate can change shape. There should be no more than a 1/8” gap from the back wall to the burn grate. If a larger gap exists, it can be corrected with the following procedure:

1. Remove the burn grate from the firebox and place it on its top on a hard flat surface.
2. Carefully step on the burn grate and apply enough pressure to bend it back to its original shape. DO NOT apply too much pressure or you will overcorrect the burn grate and it will not fit back into the firebox.
3. Place the burn grate back into the firebox and check the gap between the back wall and the burn grate to ensure a proper fit. If a gap still exists, then repeat steps 1 and 2.

Check Silicone Seals Around the Firebox:

The firebox is surrounded by high temperature silicone to prevent air leaks and to maintain positive pressure inside the cooking chamber. If you suspect reduced airflow, inspect the high temperature silicone seals around the firebox for any signs of damage or cracking as the silicon hardens and degrades over time. Here's what to look for:

- Check both the upper and lower seals around the firebox for color change, cracks or deterioration. A healthy high temperature silicone seal should look shiny and black, not grey or white.

- On older models, there is upper seal filling in the gap between the firebox and the wall of the cooking chamber. This may have a large gap where sealant is cracked, dried out, or missing. This can cause airflow issues and pellet burn back. Replace any damaged or deteriorated sealant with new high temperature sealant to ensure proper airflow.
-Another option is to replace your older firebox with the newer improved design firebox which has a bend at the top to fill in the gap found in older model fireboxes. This allows a tighter seal between the firebox and the cooking chamber and the use of less silicone sealant to prevent any airflow issues. This also a great way to reduce maintenance time in the future.

Firebox replacement procedure:

  1. Remove the burn grate and vacuum out all pellet debris and ash from above and below the burn grate.
  2. Remove the screw in the center of the firebox.
  3. Remove silicone around the firebox and pull the firebox away from the cooking chamber.
  4. Scrape away all remaining silicon in the cooking chamber and clean thoroughly with a citrus cleaner or degreaser and let dry.
  5. Place the new firebox in the cooking chamber, making sure the lip of the top is against the cooking chamber wall.
  6. Reinsert the center screw holding the firebox down.
  7. Apply new high temperature silicone sealant around the bottom edges of the firebox as well as around the upper lip where the firebox meets the chamber wall.

Keep in mind, regular maintenance and inspections are essential to keep your grill running smoothly and is routine for any grill. A little elbow grease now saves you a lot of trouble in the long run. By addressing these four key areas, you can troubleshoot and resolve airflow issues in your Yoder Smokers pellet grill. This ensures optimal performance and the best possible flavor for all your grilling adventures.

Another way you can make sure your grill is always ready is with the use of the Yoder Smokers Zero Downtime Kit since it includes a set of fans, a tube of high heat sealant, as well as several other parts that may come in handy down the road.


Keep these tips handy and we would appreciate if you could share this article with anyone who needs help getting the most out of their Yoder Smokers pellet grill.

If you went through the steps provided above and you are still experiencing issues, check out our article on Troubleshooting 101 - Diagnosing A Grill That Isn't Working. We also have available replacement fans available for multiple Yoder Smoker pellet grill models.

 

If you are still experiencing issues, please call our Customer Service Team at 316-440-3950.

Happy Grilling!