What’s Up With These Pit Boss Pellet Grill Temperature Surges?

According to Pit Boss, there can be a +/-25 degree deviation from the set temperature due to turning on and off the auger motor at specific intervals. If the temperature goes beyond that standard deviation, there are some serious problems you should be aware of. There are different reasons for such temperature fluctuations and swings in the pellet grill. The reasons include ambient temperature, humidity, wood pellets quality, malfunctioning temperature probe, and improper air circulation. There is no way to eliminate pellet grill temperature fluctuations as your home oven also does the same thing.

When it comes to pellet grills, there are many different brands. One of the most popular brands is the Pit Boss Pellet Grill.

Although this grill has several features that make it an excellent choice for any backyard chef, it does have some problems with temperature fluctuation issues which can cause the meat to over-cook or under-cook.

If you own a Pit Boss and want to know how to fix these issues so you can enjoy your grill again, read on!

Function of a P-Setting of a Pit Boss Pellet Grill

Pit Boss Pellet Grill works on the same principle as does the Traeger Pellet Grill, but it impacts the temperature on only Smoke setting for Pit Boss pellet grills. Check out my guide on the working of the Traeger pellet grill. The auger motor transfers wood pellets from the hopper to the firepot for combustion.

The speed of the auger motor at each temperature setting is different. At a desired set temperature, the temperature sensor communicates with the auger motor to deliver the required wood pellets to maintain the desired temperature.

Pit Boss pellet grills work on a time-based controller called P-setting. Pit Boss P-setting is used to increase or decrease the pause time between the pellet feeding cycles. An auger motor is turned on for a specific duration to feed the pellets to the firepot. After that, the auger is turned off, due to which the fuel supply is cut off. This cycle is repeated to maintain the temperature. You can check my recent article on P-setting for more details.

This time-based P-setting can cause temperature swings as the temperature can’t be precisely controlled due to repeated turning on/off of the auger.

There are the chances that when the auger is kept turning and the pellets are being continuously fed, the temperature inside the grill may go above the set temperature.

On the contrary, there is a possibility that when the auger is turned off for a specified duration, the temperature may go below the set temperature.

Here’s a Pit Boss P-setting chart in which you can see the pause interval of the auger is increased as we go from P-0 to P-7. For the initial startup of the Pit Boss pellet grill, P-4 is the recommended setting.

P-SettingAuger OnAuger Off
P018 seconds55 seconds
P118 seconds70 seconds
P218 seconds85 seconds
P318 seconds100 seconds
P418 seconds115 seconds
P518 seconds130 seconds
P618 seconds140 seconds
P718 seconds150 seconds

Why Are There Temperature Swings In The Pit Boss Pellet Grill?

Suppose you’ve set the temperature of your pellet grill at 225 Fahrenheit, but the temperature inside your Pit Boss Pellet Grill shoots to 300 to 400 Fahrenheit, the major cause, in that case, is the ambient temperature and hot spots inside your pellet grill.

Let’s discuss different causes of temperature swings and fluctuations in the Pit Boss Pellet Grill.

1. Ambient Temperature

The reason for deviation of temperature from the set temperature in your pellet grill can be due to ambient temperature. The combustion process of wood pellets depends on the temperature of ambient air.

The higher is the ambient temperature, the more intense is the combustion process. As a result, your grill will be hotter and it will deviate from the set temperature. If it’s summer, and your pellet grill directly faces the sun, it can also cause the temperature to shoot up from the set temperature.

2. Humidity in Air

Wood pellets are made from sawdust which intends to readily absorb the moisture in the air. The humidity will soften the wood pellets and break them. This will cause wood pellets to burn abnormally, which will result in high-temperature fluctuations in your Pit Boss pellet grill.

3. Poor Quality Wood Pellets

High-quality wood pellets burn cleaner, without producing too much ash. It’s hard to find good brands that make high-quality wood pellets. High-quality wood pellets are always made from the sawdust of fully dried hardwood.

Some cheap companies might mix softwood, which affects the quality of wood pellets. Due to poor quality, wood pellets do not undergo efficient combustion and produce a lot of ash which can interfere with the temperature probe and cause temperature swings in the pellet grill.

4. Pellet Grill Is Not Clean

There is the engineering behind a specific design of each part of a pellet grill. If it is covered with food stains, carbon soot, and ash, the uneven airflow will fail to transfer the heat from the firepot to the cooking surface.

With time, the grease and ash start accumulating on the heating deflector and grilling grate of the pellet grill. These substances affect the uniform flow of the convection air inside the grill, due to which there can be hot spots inside the specific areas of the grill.

A jammed-up auger can prevent the uniform airflow required for the combustion of wood pellets. This intermittent airflow due to auger jams can result in temperature fluctuations.

5. Improper Startup of Pellet Grill

It is really important to read the procedure of the initial startup of a pellet grill from the instruction manual. There is a specific time interval during which an optimum preheating of a pellet grill is required before you set the required temperature.

If you directly set the desired temperature without undergoing a preheating process, it will overfeed the firepot with wood pellets, which will cause the temperature to shoot up. Furthermore, without preheating to a certain time, if you instantly place food inside the grill, it will also boost temperature swings in the pellet grill.

6. You Are Noting Temperature Too Early

It takes some time to stabilize the temperature. When the burning has just started, you will observe a lot of temperature fluctuations in the pellet grill as the hot air has just started rising from the heat deflector. At this stage, there are regions of the pellet grill that are too hot. So, wait for 5-8 minutes to stabilize the temperature.

7. Temperature Probe is Faulty

The built-in thermometer/temperature probe of a Pit Boss pellet grill is off to the side, due to which it shows more deviation from the set temperature. Furthermore, if you do not regularly clean the temperature probe, it will start malfunctioning and showing incorrect temperature.

temeprature probe of a pellet grill can be faulty

To verify whether the temperature probe is faulty or not, dip it in boiling water and ice water, if it does not show temperature close to 312F and 32F temperatures respectively, the temperature probe is faulty.

Here’s a comment I found on youtube regarding the etsting of temperature probes.

8. PID Controller Malfunctioning

Pit Boss Grills like 1100 Pro Series Gen 2 have PID controller instead of p-setting. PID controller can help in precisely controlling the temperature of the pellet grill with a minimum deviation of +/- degrees. But, if you are getting more than 300 degrees inside the pellet grill, while you’ve set the temperature of 225 degrees, it means that the PID controller is not properly functioning. Due to this, you’re getting flare-ups, which will be causing a shoot-up in the temperature.

9. Heat Reflector Is Concentrating the Heat

Your Pit Boss pellet grill might have an aluminum-looking shield that has a hole and goes over the firepot. It tries to push the heat instead of spreading it out, which will cause more heat buildup at certain points inside the pellet grill.

10. Chimney Cap Is Not Adjusted

The purpose of a chimney cap on a pellet grill is not only to prevent water from entering the grill but also to control the temperature by adjusting the airflow. When the air heats up, it expands and tries to escape with high pressure from an enclosed space.

Let’s suppose that the enclosed space is a pellet grill. As the air inside the pellet grill expands, its pressure increases, which further facilitates the combustion and results in an increase in the temperature. This would happen when the chimney cap would not be adjusted to a specific height.

11. Pellet Voids

Pellet voids are a unique cause of high-temperature swings inside pellet grills, which most people are unaware of. A Pellet void is a space in the auger or hopper caused by the pellets getting out of order in the hopper, thus causing a sudden drop in the temperature. You will also see a spike in the temperature above the set temperature when the pellets catch back up to the burn pot.

How to Avoid Pit Boss Pellet Grill Temperature Fluctuations?

Here are the following useful tips you should follow to avoid the temperature fluctuations in your Pit Boss Pellet Grill.

1. Pellet Grill Should be Clean

The first step to avoiding temperature fluctuations in a Pit Boss pellet grill is that it should be properly cleaned. You should clean your Pit Boss pellet grill after three to four smoke sessions. At least develop a habit of agitating the auger after a cook so that the pellets could be fed properly. However, if have just bought a new pellet grill and it is affected by temperature swings, avoid this cleaning step.

2. Use High-Quality Hardwood Wood Pellets

You should first ensure that you’re using high-quality wood pellets for your Pit Boss Pellet grill. Pit Boss and Lumberjack make amazing wood pellets. So, you should only use them in your Pit Boss pellet grill.

3. Wood Pellets Should be Dry

Make sure that you store pellets in a cool and dry place. Wood pellets should be completely dry before use so that efficient and clean combustion can be carried out. You can test them by taking a wood pellet and see if it snaps in half with a crunch or crumbles.

4. Eliminate Pellet Void

When you insert wood pellets in the hopper of the pellet grill, stir around the pellets in the hopper with a long spoon or spatula to distribute them evenly inside the hopper.

5. Preheat Pellet Grill By Following Instruction Manual

The initial burning process of a Pit Boss pellet grill is really important to ensure optimized preheating. First, set the pellet grill to the smoke option until all the white smoke is done blowing out the grill. This takes 5 to 10 minutes.

Preheat your pellet grill for 30 minutes at 350 Fahrenheit to stabilize the internal temperature. This preheating procedure also depends on the model of a Pit Boss grill. So, always read its solution manual before proceeding.

6. Proper Adjustment of P-Setting

You can also make some adjustments in P-settings if your Pit Boss pellet grill has a time-based controller. Pit Boss grill with PID controller does not have P-setting. You can change P-setting from P-4 to P-5 if the temperature goes way above the set temperature.

Increasing P-setting from P-4 to P-5 is recommended when you’re grilling under the direct sun heat in summers. When you change P-setting, wait for at least 30 minutes to stabilize the temperature. However, most users say that P-setting doesn’t resolve the temperature swings issue so much. This is because P-setting only works for the “Smoke Setting” in a Pit Boss grill.

7. Set Multiple Thermometers inside the Grill

It is better to use thermometers at different locations inside the grill so that you can determine the correct temperature. In the pellet grill, there will always be some hot spots and you have to test them by using multiple thermometers at different locations.

You can check the video below to understand the concepts of hot spots in a Pit Boss pellet grill.

During a 6 hours cook, you will observe that temperature swing 4-5 times inside the pellet grill. This is because wood pellets are repeatedly fed by auger to firepot, due to which hot spots will be recorded by the temperature probe. That’s why I’d not recommend you rely only on one built-in temperature sensor.

So, I’d recommend you to buy a reliable temperature sensor like Thermoworks. Play around with the results indicated by the thermometer and see what you come up with, and use the results to your advantage.

Check out this video to learn more.

Here’s a comment I found on youtube regarding the use of Thermoworks probes for measuring and validating the temperature inside the pellet grill.

8. Remove Heat Deflecting Plate

When you remove a frame-boiler plate, you will observe a heat-deflecting plate as shown in the figure below.

heat deflecting plate in pit boss pellet grill can cause temeprature swing

You can see the hole in a plate that directs the heat upward. Remove this heat deflecting plate and place a heat distribution plate that uniformly distributes the heat throughout the grill. You can try this one. While installing the distribution plate, also remove the frame broiler.

9. Add Water Tray inside the Grill

Water has a high heating capacity, which means it can store a large amount of heat energy without increasing its temperature to a significant extent. Moreover, water takes more time as compared to the air to heat up and expand, which helps in minimizing the significant temperature swings inside the pellet grill.

So, to control the rising temperature inside your grill, you can fill a bread tray with water and place it inside your pellet grill. After placing the water pan, wait for 15 to 30 minutes to stabilize the environment inside the pellet grill. When water starts evaporating, the vapors absorb the heat without increasing the temperature. In this way, Pit Boss Pellet Grill temperature fluctuations can be controlled by placing a water tray.

10. Adjust the Chimney Cap

You can also control Pit Boss pellet grill temperature swings by raising the chimney cap to 1.5 to 2 inches. It will allow hot air to exhaust so that the cold ambient air can replace it and lower the temperature.

11. Frame Broiler Plate Is Covered

The function of the frame broiler plate is to allow direct and indirect heat transfer. When you want to sear the meat at a very high temperature, such as 450F, you can uncover the frame broiler. If you’re grilling at low temperatures such as 225 or 250 Fahrenheit, make sure that the frame broiler is all the way closed to stop the fire from coming out of the burning pot.

12. Change PID Controller

Replacing the PID controller is the last step you can do to minimize the temperature swings in your Pit Boss pellet grill. This is only possible if your Pit Boss pellet grill works on the PID controller setting.  I would recommend the Savannah Stoker PID controller system for the Pit Boss pellet grill. According to many users, it has worked like a charm to control Pit boss pellet grill temperature fluctuations.

Here’s what a person comments in a subreddit regarding the Savannah Stoker PID Controller.

Wrapping Up

I’ve tried to cover everything in detail regarding the causes and solutions of temperature fluctuations in a Pit Boss pellet grill. I’d recommend you to follow the above-mentioned solutions step by step so that you can save your time in minimizing the pellet grill temperature swings.