You’ve set the steaks on the grill and insert the probe then head back inside to finish watching your favorite movie with the family. All of a sudden you hear a boom that sounds like a car backfiring outside only to realize that your grill exploded. It scared the crap out of you and now you’re wondering “why do pellet grills explode” so it won’t happen again.
Why Do Pellet Grills Explode?
Pellet grills explode when they have experienced an improper shut down such as a flameout, power outage, or user error.
While I’m no expert when it comes to pellet grilling, but I’ve done a ton of research, and I’ll share what I’ve learned about pellet grills and explosions.
But first, you need to have a better understanding of how they work.
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How A Pellet Grill Works?
When you first start the grill, the auger goes full loading as many pellets as it can into the firepot. After a certain period of time, the ignitor ignites and the grill runs as normal.
Improper Shut Downs
When you don’t go through the normal shut down procedure such as a flameout or power outage, there are residual unburnt pellets in the firepot. This happens because the grill wasn’t able to go through it’s normal shut down procedure.
When you hit the power button to shut the grill down, it automatically goes through a shutdown procedure.
When you restart the grill, the auger feeds the fire pot with more pellets like on a normal startup, on top of the residual pellets which can then cause an explosion.
This is why it’s so important to follow the shut down cycle from your grills manufacturer manual.
How to Safely Shut Down The Pit Boss Pellet Grill
For instance, the Pit Boss manual says after the natural burn off procedure, keep the lid closed and turn the temperature dial to 200°F / 93° C for five minutes to allow any remaining pellets to burn out.
Once the cycle is complete, you can then turn off your grill and turn the temperature dial to the off position. Keep the lid closed and let your grill cool down before putting the cover back on.
The proper shut down procedure will ensure that there are no unburnt pellets in the firepot the next time you start up the grill.
How Do I Know If My Pellet Grill Shut Down Correctly?
Easy, you shouldn’t see any unburnt pellets in the fire pot. All you’ll see is a little bit of ash from your last cook.
How To Prevent An Incorrect Shutdown
While you can avoid a flameout by ensuring your grill has enough pellets before cooking. Unfortunately, you can’t know before hand if you’ll have a power outage when you’re cooking.
If you’re cooking in bad weather or you think you may have a power outage, then you may want to consider using a generator. This way if the power goes out, at least your pellet smoker won’t.
I realize not everyone has a back up generator, I don’t. The best thing you can do is avoid using your grill in bad weather, or if you’ve been experiencing power outages in your area.
Unfortunately, if you use your grill a lot as we do, then you’re going to experience an incorrect shut down some day. That’s okay, as long as you know what to do, you should be fine.
How To Restart Your Grill After A Flameout Or Power Outage
If you do happen to run out of pellets or you experience a flameout or get any kind of errors on your grill, always check the burn pot (firepot) before restarting.
Remove any unburnt pellets from the firepot before restarting it. Otherwise, your grill has too much fuel and the airflow will be restricted and it can’t breathe properly.
It’s like throwing a bunch of leaves on top of a burning fire, which will cause it to smoke like crazy.
Once the ignitor ignites, it can cause an explosion.
Are Pellet Grills Safe?
Yes, as long as you’re following the safety precautions whenever you’re using any type of fuel, whether it’s a gas grill, propane, natural gas in our house, or an oil furnace.
You should be fine using a pellet grill or any other type of fuel-powered grill.
So let’s take a look at some of these precautionary steps to take when using your pellet smoker grill.
What Does It Sound Like When A Pellet Grill Explodes?
I’ve personally never heard one explode and hopefully, I never do. In 2018, an avid griller named Randy experienced this and you can literally see his Traeger grill explode at his home.
When you watch the video, you’ll notice that it’s a big loud boom similar to what a car backfiring sounds like. I believe that the grill even caught on fire.
In the video he did admit that his grill had shut down incorrectly.
Here are some tips you can use to prevent your backyard grill from exploding.
5 Tips To Prevent Your Pellet Grill From Exploding
Don’t Let Your Grill Run Out Of Pellets
One of the first things you should get into the habit of doing is making sure your pellet smoker has enough pellets for the cook. We always put more than we need, especially since we ran out when we cooked the Boston Butt.
So don’t be scared to put in extra, you can always switch out the pellets to a different flavor later if you want.
Use A Backup Generator On Bad Days
If you have to cook on a bad day, then you may want to consider using a backup generator. This will protect your grill from shutting down incorrectly if you do loose power.
For those high core grillers who don’t like to schedule their outdoor grilling around mother nature, you may want to consider investing in a backup generator.
I know what you’re thinking, a backup generator is expensive. It is, but it can help prevent you from dealing with a grill explosion that can possibly injure someone.
Here’s a great backup generator you can use for your grill and your house if you do happen to lose power.
Always Check The Firepot
If you see any errors or your grill shut down improperly, the first thing you should do is check the firepot. Remove any unburnt pellets before trying to restart it!
Start The Grill With The Lid Open
Always start any grill whether it’s propane, gas, or a pellet grill with the lid open. This will allow the air to flow more freely and is less likely to explode.
It will take a few minutes for the pellets to ignite. Leave the lid open until the smoke clears, then you can close the lid and turn the temperature up to your desired cooking time.
Keep A Fire Hydrant Nearby
Whenever you’re grilling, it’s always safe to keep a fire hydrant nearby. You’ll most likely never need to use it, but it’s always nice to know it’s there if you do need it.
You never know when you may experience a grease fire on your grill or in your home.
Pellet grills don’t explode very often and when they do, it’s usually due to user error. If your pellet grill ever turns off incorrectly or has an error, always check the firepot before turning it back on.
Here’s to starting up the grill safely the next time you cook!