A Pit Boss is meant to cook, smoke, bake, and grill amazing delicious food. However, it’s only as good as it’s temperature sensor. When the sensor becomes dirty, corroded, or broken, the grill won’t function properly. You’ll end up with overcooked, undercooked meat, or worse, you’ll experience the dreadful ERL error.
I’ve learned some great tips I’d like to share with you about cleaning, and caring for the RTD Probe.
What Is The RTD Probe & Where Is It?
The RTD Probe or sensor is located on the hopper side, inside the grill. It’s a small 3 – 4″ inch digital sensor that is responsible for regulating the internal temperature of the grill. I’ve talked more about what it is and what it does in this post, when I recommend reading if you’re new to the Pit Boss pellet grill.
Unfortunately, at one point or another you’re going to have to replace it due to a malfunction, breakage, etc. That said, when properly maintained, they can last 2-3 years before having to replace it. Mine lasted over two years before replacing it.
While I can’t promise yours will last as long as mine did. These tips will help you get the most out of your RTD Probe.
#1 Clean the Probe Often
Like the rest of the grill, it’s important to clean the probe after every 3-4 cooks. That said, I recommend cleaning it more often, especially, once you notice it’s black not silver anymore. As mentioned above, a dirty probe can wreak havoc on the pellet grill.
Make sure you’re cleaning the entire probe, not just the top. This means you’ll have to use a screwdriver to remove the front plate, so you can get access to the complete probe.
I’ve written a step by step tutorial on how to clean the probe, so I recommend reading it, especially, if it’s your first time. You’ll see how I clean my Pit Boss RTD probe and ensure that it’s working properly.
#2 Use Soft Materials to Clean the Probe
Avoid using harsh sponges, as it will leave scratches on the probe. When I first started cleaning my probe, I used a Scotch Brite industrial heavy duty sponge, which left scratches all over the sensor. I’m not sure if these scratches will affect how the sensor works, but I figured it was best to avoid using it.
Now, I use a soft sponge or washcloth, such as the ones you use to wash your dishes and it works great. That said, you will need to use more elbow grease, but at least you won’t have to worry about it damaging the sensor.
Also, scrub the probe in an up and down motion. Never side to side motion, as this can damage or break the probe.
#3 Use Soap and Water
Don’t use any harsh chemicals inside the grill, as these can taint the flavor of your food. Instead, stick to using soap and water. I use Dawn and it does a great job at removing all the residue and grime from the probe.
If you’re having trouble getting the grime off, then put a little bit of soap directly on your sponge or washcloth. This will ensure you’re using more soap than water, which can help loosen up the dirt.
Once the probe is clean, make sure you get rid of all the soap residue. Also, dry the probe completely after cleaning with a dry washcloth or towel.
You don’t want any lingering on any of the electrical parts of the grill. Moisture inside a grill can lead to problems, such as rusting.
It’s also a good idea to clean the area around the probe. I use a Q-tip or cotton swab to remove any grime that has built up on the hard to reach places.
#4 Keep It Behind The Barrier
You might be tempted to remove the barrier on the RTD probe, so you can reach it easier. However, the barrier is put in place to help protect it from damage. So, I recommend leaving it in place and only removing it when you need to clean the probe.
If you do remove the barrier, make sure you’re careful not to damage the probe. Avoid hitting it with the screwdriver or anything else that could potentially break it.
Once you’re done cleaning, make sure you put the barrier back on and screw it in place. You don’t want it to come loose while cooking, as this could cause problems.
#5 Let It Cool Down
Never move the grill while the probe is hot. Instead, wait until the grill has cooled completely before moving it. This usually takes about 30 minutes, but the cool down time will vary.
If the grill is cool enough to touch, then it’s fine to move it. Moving the grill when hot or warm, can cause the fine wire to break or become loosened.
That said, if you have no choice but to move the grill because it’s going to rain, make sure you do it gently. Avoid hitting any rough spots, as this could damage the probe.
#6 Inspect It Regularly
The last tip is to inspect the probe regularly. This means looking for any damage, residue, or tears in the wire. The first two are easy to look for, as you’ll be able to inspect the probe when you open the lid.
To inspect the probe, open the lid and place your finger on the probe. If the probe is loose or it’s broken, then you need to replace it.
Accessing the wires, means you have to remove the hopper and get inside the grill. You’re looking for any tears, cuts or loose wires. Visible wiring should be free of tears. Damaged wires can prevent the sensor from working properly, and should be replaced.
This part is not necessary, but it can be good to get into the habit of removing the hopper once a year to vacuum out any dust.
This not only keeps the grill working properly, it’s a great time to inspect the wires on the probe, auger, etc. You don’t realize how much dust accumulates on the wires and other parts of the grill, until you get inside it.
The RTD probe is an important part of the pellet grill, as it’s responsible for regulating the internal temperature. If you’ve noticed that your grill isn’t working properly, it could be something as simple as the sensor needs to be cleaned.
The tips above can help you can extend the life of your RTD probe and ensure that your grill is cooking perfectly.