Pit Boss Pellet Grill How-to and Troubleshooting Guide
Pit Boss makes the most top-rated pellet smokers and grills in the market. They are sturdy, have a great aesthetic, and come with the best warranty in the industry. The pellet grill is easy to use and maintain, has a large cooking area, a sizeable hopper, and durable construction. However, even the best pellet grills will develop issues now and then.
Some of the most common Pit Boss pellet grill problems include electrical issues, component malfunctions, error codes, mechanical issues, and poor functionality, which require troubleshooting. This article will address as many Pit Boss grill problems as possible and discuss their troubleshooting tips to get your grill working perfectly.
How to start a Pit Boss pellet grill
Starting a Pit Boss pellet grills is pretty straightforward. If your pellet grill is brand new, you will first have to prime and then season it prior to using it for the first time. Otherwise, here is the general procedure on how to start the Pit Boss pellet grill.
- Fill your hopper adequately with quality wood pellets. Make sure they are not wet or swollen.
- Plug the grill into a power outlet.
- Open the lid and set the temperature dial to “Smoke.” The smoke setting temperature range is 180-210° F/ 80-100° C.
- Press the start button on the pellet grill, and you will hear the fan running.
- If your Pit Boss grill has a Prime button, hold the “Prime” button until you hear the pellets drop into the firepot. The Prime feature on the Pit Boss pellet grills speeds up the auger so that the pellets fill it quickly and get to the firepot before the pellet grill shuts down from lack of pellets dropping into the firepot.
- Once the wood pellets fall into the firepot, release the “Prime” button.
- After about 5-7 minutes, you will hear a burner lighting sound to indicate the fire rod has come up to temperature and ignited the pellets. You will see more smoke coming out of the grill.
- Wait for the smoke to clear, close the grills and adjust the temperature setting to about 350°F.
- Wait about 10-15 minutes for the grill to preheat.
- Use a bristle-free grill brush to clean off the grill gates.
- Modify the temperature to your preferred setting, and then set your food on the grill.
How to shut down a Pit Boss pellet grill
In contrast to other grills, pellet grills don’t burn themselves out. Instead, they require you to turn it off using a specific procedure. The following process will work for any Pit Boss grills, but the settings may differ depending on the model.
- Once complete cooking your food, take it off the grill.
- Increase the temperature dial to the highest setting for burn-off.
- Let the grill run at its highest temperature for five to ten minutes. This step burns off any wood pellets remaining in the firebox grease buildup to reduce the possibility of a grease fire the next time you turn on your grill.
- Once burn-off is complete, turn the temperature dial to the “Off” position.
- Lift the lid and allow the grill to cool off until it’s cool to the touch and the fan is off.
- Close the grill lid and press the “Power” button to turn the grill off. You should never turn off the power button whenever the fan is running.
- Unplug the pellet grill from the electrical outlet.
How to clean a Pit Boss pellet grill
One of the best things about the Pit Boss grills is that it is low maintenance. However, that doesn’t mean you will never have to clean it. You need to clean the grease out after each cook, the firepot after several uses, a deep clean once or twice per season, and before putting it away for the season. Cleaning the grills is essential as the grease and ash that accumulates during use can affect the grill’s functioning and shorten its lifespan. Below is the Pit Boss grill cleaning process.
Things you’ll need
- Non-metallic brush or a grill brush
- Non-abrasive scourer
- Rags or paper towels
- Shop vacuum
- Putty knife
- Grills cleaning solution
Cleaning your pit boss after each use
The aim of cleaning the grills after every use is to reduce buildup until your subsequent use.
- Ensure you shut off your grills using the burn-off procedure to remove any grease and food residue left after cooking.
- Once the grills have cooled down, use a non-abrasive brush to clean the grate.
- Empty the ashtray and check for any grease buildup.
- Wipe the temperature dial using a mixture of vinegar and water and scrub off the grease with a scourer or rag. Cleaning the dial prevents buildup or gunk, which can prevent it from moving smoothly over time.
You will need to clean the interior and exterior of your pellet grills after several uses.
Ensure the grill is unplugged before cleaning it. Next, remove all the components of your grills, including the grates, drip pan, deflector plate, and hopper, and then continue with the cleaning steps below.
- Empty the pellet hopper.
- Use the shop vacuum to remove any remaining pellets, sawdust, and debris.
- Use a damp rag to wipe dust and debris from the fan air intake vent located at the bottom of the hopper.
- If there is grease, spray the degreaser and wipe it down from the bottom panel and fan blades.
- Use a nylon brush to remove any food residue from the grates.
- Soak the grates in a container filled with dishwashing detergent and water.
- After several hours of soaking, use a scourer to remove any remaining gunk and grease.
- You can also spray some degreaser and scrub off the loose dirt.
- Rinse the grates and then allow them to air dry.
- Take out the aluminum liner and wipe it down with soapy water and a scourer.
- Rinse the bucket and dry it with a dry cloth.
- Put a clean liner to catch the grease during your subsequent use and make clean-up easier.
- Clean the inside of the lid using the brush to remove grease buildup.
- Spray some degreaser on the surface and allow it to work for a few hours.
- Scrub off the remaining dirt and then wipe off the degreaser with a clean damp cloth.
Flame broiler and deflector
- Scrub off any buildup using the non-abrasive brush.
- Then use some soapy water or degreaser and a non-abrasive scourer to remove grease and grime.
- Rinse them, and then let them air dry.
- Use a shop vac to clean out the ashes from the barrel.
- Scrape any stuck food residue using a putty knife.
- Then vacuum it again to remove the remaining dirt.
- Remove grease buildup using the putty knife or brush.
- Spray some greaser, allow it to loosen the grime.
- Then wipe it down with a rag.
- Use a damp rag to wipe down the shelves on your Pit Boss.
- Some models have removable panels underneath the front shelf, making it easier to clean between the crevices.
- You can also use a toothbrush to clean the dirt and grime between the crevices.
- Use a soft rag and a grill cleaner to clean the grill exterior.
- Make sure no moisture gets inside the hopper or grill; the Pit Boss has many electrical components.
- After every use, cover the grill to keep dust away from the outside and the inside.
How long do pellets last in a Pit Boss grill?
The duration will depend on the temperature setting, weather, model of a pellet smoker, and the type of pellets you use. However, a 40-pound bag of pellets will generally last you over 24 hours with solid continuous heat. Below is how the mentioned factors affect pellet consumption in a Pit Boss grill.
The higher the grill temperature, the faster the pellets will burn and vice versa. If the grilling temperature is high, expect the pellets to burn at least two pounds per hour. When on medium heat, expect the pellets to burn one pound per hour. If the grill is low, the pellets will burn half a pound per hour.
The pellets will burn out faster on a cold day than on a warm sunny day because external temperatures are much lower. Therefore, the pellet grill consumes more fuel to generate more heat.
Also, pellet grills burn fuel faster at night than during the day due to the reduced temperatures.
Type of grill
Insulation is essential when it comes to fuel consumption. Insulated grills tend to retain heat for longer. Thus, they don’t burn through pellets as fast as non-insulated grills. If your Pit Boss model doesn’t come insulated, you can purchase thermal insulation to ensure your pellets last longer.
Type of pellets
The type of wood pellets you use on your smoker will affect your food’s taste, flavor, and quality. Also, the type of pellets you use determines how fast they will burn. So lookout for the following factors when deciding which type of pellets to buy for your Pit Boss:
- Price: Cheaper pellets tend to burn faster than they are pricier ones. Cheaper pellets contain flavored oils which enhance your meat flavor. Unfortunately, the grills burn through these flavored oils much quicker to maintain the grill’s temperature.
- Brand: Some brands of pellets last longer in grills than others. We recommend using reputable brands as they last longer.
- Size: Shorter pellets burn faster than longer ones.
- Density: Soft pellets do not last as long as thicker and more dense pellets.
How to season a Pit Boss pellet grill
Curing or seasoning a new Pit Boss is essential for several reasons. It burns and cleans out all the dirt, dust, oils, and bacteria left on the grill during manufacturing and transportation. It also prevents food from sticking onto the grates. Seasoning your grill will also cure the pain and avoid rust buildup on the grates and broiler plate to ensure it lasts longer. Before seasoning, make sure you have enough wood pellets to last over an hour, then follow the instructions below.
- Assemble your Pit Boss and set it up in an open place away from anything flammable.
- Fill your hopper with wood pellets.
- Plug the grill into a power source.
- Turn the pellet grill on and turn the temperature dial to “Smoke.”
- Increase the grill temperature to the highest setting (over 233°C / 450°F).
- Close the lid and allow the unit to smoke for about 30-45 minutes.
- Turn off the grill, and now seasoned.
- Allow it to cool completely before using it or storing it.
How to prime a Pit Boss pellet grill
Priming the grills allows the auger to feed the firepot with wood pellets. Priming also ensures the ignitor functions properly and prevents timeouts before it ignites the pellets. You will need to prime your Pit Boss if you have never used your grill before to test the functioning of the auger feeding system and firepot. You also have to prime your grill every time you run out of pellets in the hopper before you resume cooking. To prime your Pit Boss pellet grill:
- Plug the grill into a power outlet.
- Remove all the cooking components from the grill if you run out of pellets while grilling.
- Switch on the grill and turn the temperature dial to the “Smoke” position.
- Make sure you hear the auger turning if you’re using the grill for the first time.
- Place your hand over the firepot and feel for air movement to indicate the grill is working properly.
- After about a minute, you should smell the ignitor burn off, and the air will start getting warmer.
- Turn off the temperature dial.
- Fill up the hopper completely with wood pellets.
- Turn the temperature dial back to the “Smoke” position.
- If your Pit Boss model has a prime button, hold the “Prime” button until you see the pellets falling into the firepot.
- If your grill doesn’t have a prime button, smoke the grill for a while and then allow the pellets to light up.
- Immediately you see flames coming out of the firepot, turn off the grill and replace all the cooking components.
- For first-time Pit Boss users, you will have to continue with seasoning the grill.
The Pit Boss grill is not igniting.
There are a few components you should look into when your Pit Boss refuses to ignite.
Check the extension cord and ensure there are no damages; otherwise, it may need replacing. Check if the connections are loose, it is hot to touch, broken, or missing vital safety features. Also, ensure the extension cord is the correct gauge, suitable for use with a GFCI breaker, specifically for outdoor use. The extension cord should be 12 or 14 gauge, 3-prong grounded cable rated to handle 15 amps.
Pit Boss grill relies on electrical power to start the ignitor, operate the fan and auger and run the control board. If your grill does not start up, power issues are the most obvious source. First, ensure you have plugged in the grill. Then, try unplugging it and re-plug it again.
If the issue continues, check if the power outlet is working. You can use a multimeter or unplug the grill and connect another electrical device like a lamp. If the device doesn’t turn on, you can replace the power outlet. If your outlet is working, check the circuit breaker for any tripped breakers and reset them if necessary.
Sometimes a loose connection better the igniter, and the control board can prevent the grill from starting. Remove the control board and examine all connections. Make sure the connections are correctly color-coded and securely wired; the ignitor wires are purple and white.
Control board fuse
While the control panel is open, inspect the fuse and ensure it has not blown. If there are loose wires or a dark patch, you need to replace the fuse for the control board to work.
Remove the grates and inspect the ignitor. If the ignitor doesn’t light up when you turn the grill on, you should replace the fuse behind the control panel. If replacing the fuse doesn’t work, replace the ignitor itself.
The Pit Boss grill is not heating up.
If your Pit Boss grill is turning on but not heating up, there are a few possible causes:
Weather is one of the most common factors that will hinder your grill from getting hot. Wind, direct sunlight, humidity, rain, hot weather, and cold weather will cause temperature issues and abnormal fluctuations on your Pit Boss.
Schedule your grilling appropriately, and do not grill outdoors during any of the weather conditions mentioned above. It’s also essential to cover your Pit Boss to protect it from harsh weather.
Extreme heat, cold, and moisture can damage its outer material and inner electrical components.
Check this too: Is it Safe to Grill in the Garage With the Door Open?
Increasing the P-setting on your Pit Boss will also increase the pause time between pellet cycles. So that means you will be retaining the pellets for an extended duration, leading to a lower temperature and increased smoke.
Also, adjusting the P-setting too frequently causes temperature issues such as large temperature swings and flame cutting off in your grill. As a result, your grill won’t get hot. To fix it:
- Turn your P-setting to “Smoke.”
- Then, adjust the P-setting in intervals of 30-minute breaks.
- If you’re losing flame or heat, decrease the P-setting.
- Before changing the P-setting, try using your Pit Boss as the factory setting of P-4.
Fire pots rust and develop holes over time, especially from poor maintenance. A fire pot with holes will allow heat to escape and prevent the grill from heating up. The only way to fix a corroded firepot is by replacing it.
A blank LCD screen
Your grill will not get hot if the LCD screen doesn’t light up. A blank screen could be due to power issues to the grill, such as a tripped circuit breaker, loose plug, or blown-out circuit board fuse. To fix this:
- Check the grill has securely plugged into a working electrical outlet.
- Inspect the circuit breaker for any tripped breakers or shorted fuses. Then, reset the tripped breaker and replace the blown fuses.
- Ensure the GFCI supports 10 to 15 amp service.
- Turn the temperature dial to “Smoke’ and start the grill.
Ignition failures are usually due to ash buildup, low-quality pellets, wet pellets, or a faulty ignitor. To troubleshoot this:
- Empty the ashes after every cook.
- If there is buildup already, give the grill a deep clean.
- Use quality wood pellets from a reputable brand and ensure they are not wet. We recommend using Pit Boss BBQ Wood Pellets.
- Inspect the ignitor and make sure it is not damaged. If it is, replace it.
- Sometimes mechanical igniter problems can prevent the grill from heating up. If this happens, you need to restart your Pit Boss manually.
Typically, the Pit Boss grill fan stops working overtime due to poor grill maintenance and grease buildup, hindering its movement. The fan pulls air into the firepot to support combustion and removes smoke from the grill through the chimney. When the fan fails, combustion reduces, and so does the heat efficiency of your grill.
Clean your fan using a degreaser. Try rotating the fan manually and if it is too damaged, consider replacing it.
Ash and grease buildup
Regularly deep cleaning your Pit Boss is crucial as it prevents dirt, dust, ash, and grease from causing jams, flame out, and igniter problems. First, deep clean your grill with a degreaser and then try restarting it. Make sure not to use water around any electrical components.
Pit Boss pellet grill auger is not turning.
The auger feeds wood pellets into the firepot, which fuels the flame. So if the auger fails, the flame will burn out, and the grill will turn off. Follow the instructions below to troubleshoot your Pit Boss auger that is not turning.
The grill auger was not primed.
You need to prime the auger before using it for the first time or every time the hopper runs out of pellets. Priming allows the auger to fill up the firepot with pellets. So you need to shut off the grill and unplug it from power. Then restart it using the priming procedure in our article.
A loose connection or incorrect wiring between the control board and the auger feed system can prevent the auger from turning. This can happen if you recently replaced a fuse or interfered with the control board wiring. Access the auger feed control system behind the control panel. Inspect the wiring, make sure the connection is secure and the wires are correctly color-coded. The red and white wires belong to the auger feed system.
The Auger motor has jammed.
If the wood pellets are exposed to moisture in the hopper during storage, they will swell and jam the auger. The following instruction will help you clear the jam:
- Remove the inner components of your grill.
- Vacuum out any pellets from the hopper, auger, and firepot.
- Remove the fan, auger, and auger motor from the grill.
- Inspect the auger feed system by manually rotating the auger. If it has difficulty turning, it is jammed.
- Use a shop vacuum to clean out as much sawdust and pellets from both ends of the auger tube.
- Inspect the auger motor for cracks and damages. If it has broken, contact customer service for a replacement part.
- If the auger motor is okay, return all the grill parts and restart it to test the auger motor.
How to replace the ignitor on Pit Boss pellet grill
If your Pit Boss is not igniting due to a faulty ignitor, the following is a step-by-step guide on how you can replace it yourself.
Things you’ll need
- Phillips screwdriver
- Wire cutters or clippers
- New ignitor with a fuse
- If you’ve been using your grill, you need to first clean it before replacing the ignitor. Next, vacuum out the ashes from the grill and firepot and then empty the hopper.
- Remove the grates and flame broiler to access the firepot.
- Use the Phillips screwdriver to unscrew the firepot.
- Turn the firepot a quarter clockwise and pull it out.
- Locate the ignitor attached to the side of the firepot.
- Loosen the set screw holding the ignitor in place and then remove the ignitor.
- Feed the ignitor back through the burn tube.
- Remove the bottom plate underneath the pellet hopper.
- Clip the three zip ties holding the ignitor wires.
- Pull the ignitor back through the burn tube into the hopper to remove it from underneath the hopper.
- Disconnect the ignitor from the purple and white wires.
- Install the new igniter in the reverse process making sure all wire connections and screws are secure.
- Screw back the bottom plate of the hopper
- Insert the new ignitor into the firepot, leaving about a quarter to half an inch of the ignitor exposed inside the firepot.
- Then secure it place by tightening the set screw.
- Reinsert the firepot and screw it back in its place.
- Finally, test the grill to ensure the new ignitor works.
Pit Boss pellet grill is not smoking.
Ideally, your grill does not smoke throughout cooking. Instead, it will smoke through different stages in the cooking process, but the smoke is usually thicker when the auger feeds more wood pellets into the firepot. If you notice your Pit Boss pellet grill is not smoking, there be an issue with grill temperature, pellets, meat temperature, or firepot. Note that the default temperature for the smoke setting on the Pit Boss is 160°F – 190°F with a P4 setting.
To get more smoke out of your Pit Boss pellet grill, you need to:
- Cook your food at a lower temperature of around 250°F.
- Put cold meat on the grill.
- Try different pellet flavors to see which one smokes the best.
- Make sure the wood pellets are completely dry without any clumping.
All Pit Boss grill error codes, their meaning, and fixes
Pit Boss grills have error messages with their cause and potential solutions.
This error code indicates a heat and temperature control issue. Either the grill is overheating, or the temperature probe wire isn’t correctly connected.
Excess pellets in the firebox could cause the overheating of your Pit Boss. To reduce overheating, try turning off the grill, allow it to cool down and then empty the pellets from the firebox.
To access the temperature probe wire, remove the hopper access panel and look for damages. Ensure the connections are secure and connected correctly to the control board.
This error message means that the temperature dial was on before plugging in the grill. It’s a safety feature that prevents an automatic restart. It notifies you that someone turned off the grill correctly the last time someone used it. To clear the error message, turn the temperature dial to the “Off” position, wait two minutes and then turn it back to your desired temperature.
Flashing dots on the LCD screen
Flashing dots on the Pit Boss LCD screen indicates that the grill ignitor is on and working correctly.
Why is the temperature display flashing on my Pit Boss grill?
The temperature display blinking indicates that the corresponding ambient temperature has dropped too low, and there is a risk of the flame burning out. If the display flashes while on “Smoke” mode, it means the temperature has dropped below 110°F. If it flashes while on “Cook” mode, the temperature is less than 150°F.
Immediately the display starts flashing; you should turn off the grill and unplug it. Then, wait about 20 seconds and restart the grill.
How to replace your Pit Boss grill fuse
The control in your Pit Boss grill uses a 5 amp, 120 volts, fast-blow fuse to protect the board from the ignitor. Sometimes an overloaded current or a shorted wire can blow out the fuse, which will require replacing. If the fuse has blown out, the grill won’t ignite, and the LCD screen will be blank when you plug it in.
Also, if the fuse keeps blowing up, it is usually a symptom of an underlying issue. So it’s important to identify the source of the problem to avoid further damaging your Pit Boss. Here is how you can replace the fuse in your grill:
- First, unplug the grill from power.
- Then locate the Pit Boss fuse behind the control board on your grill.
- Unscrew the front-facing control panel of the hopper.
- If you’ve never opened the control panel, you may have to cut some wire ties.
- Lift the panel slightly and pull it out.
- Disconnect all the three wire connections except the power connection: the auger feed system, fan system, and ignitor system.
- Remove the fuse box cover.
- Check if the fuse has blown out. You are likely to see a broken wire or soot on the inside of the glass.
- If it is your first time replacing the fuse, you will cut the zip tie to access a spare fuse.
- Pop-out the blown fuse and insert the new one.
- Return the control board onto the hopper. Avoid leaving it hanging as it can short out the control board when you plug in the grill causing you to replace the entire control board.
- Now plug in your grill and test each component at a time to determine which one is causing the blown fuse.
Check the fan
- Connect the white wire into the black and white wire.
- The fan should turn on and run continuously.
- If the fan stops and the control board light goes out, the fan is causing the blown fuse.
- You will need to replace the fan.
Check the auger feed system.
- Connect the white wire into the red and white wire.
- Press the power button, and the fan should start spinning.
- If it doesn’t spin, replace the auger and feed system.
Check the ignitor
- Connect the white wire into the purple and white wire.
- If the grill doesn’t start or cuts off right after, you need to replace the ignitor.
- If everything works, screw back the control panel.
What does P-setting mean?
The “P” in P-setting stands for “pause.” There are eight “P” settings, ranging from P0 to P7. This feature helps determine the time frame between each pellet cycle. For instance, the default P-setting is P4 which stops for 115 seconds, runs for 18 seconds, and then repeats the cycle.
Therefore it means this setting controls the amount of pellet supply flowing into the firepot. As a result, you get to control your grill temperature to compensate for ambient temperatures, humidity, wind, pellet type, and quality.
Any improper adjustment of the P-setting can cause your Pit Boss to shut off while grilling. So you should use it under specific conditions to your grill’s heat generation:
- Reducing the P-setting supplies the firebox with more pellets. As a result, they’ll ignite faster and increase the grill temperature.
- Increasing the P-setting feeds the firebox with fewer pellets. As a result, the pellets will burn slower, leading to reduced grill temperatures.
The Pit Boss grill is not maintaining temperature.
If your Pit Boss pellet grill is not maintaining its temperature correctly, here is how you can improve temperature control.
- Follow the proper staring procedure of your Pit Boss. Taking shortcuts can affect the functionality and efficiency of your unit.
- Preheat the Pit Boss for 30 minutes at 350°F to help the grill maintain a constant temperature while cooking.
- If you’re on “Smoke” mode and your grill is not maintaining a stable temperature, you need to adjust your P-settings correctly. If you’re losing grill temperature, you need to lower the P-setting. When it’s cold, set the P-setting to P2-P3 to prevent flameout. During hot weather, adjust the P-setting to P4-P5.
- Cover your Pit Boss grill with an insulated grill blanket to protect it from harsh weather conditions and help save on fuel consumption in the long run.
- Use a dome thermometer to help you gauge grill temperature and act accordingly.
- Use quality hardwood pellets and ensure they are dry before filling up your grill hopper.
- Avoid repeatedly opening the lid as it will cause temperature fluctuations. Instead, use the meat probe to monitor the internal temperature of the food.
- Inspect the firepot for any wear and tear. If the firepot has holes, replace it immediately. Otherwise, the heat will escape and cause temperature fluctuations.
- Use a water pan to create a natural source of indirect cooking. It also helps maintain low temperatures due to evaporation cooling.
- Adjust the height of the smoke cap to help maintain a consistent temperature in the grill.
Check this too: Is it Safe to Grill in the Garage With the Door Open?
Troubleshooting the Pit Boss pellet grill on your own can feel intimidating. But if you follow our Pit Boss grill troubleshooting guide, you’ll have your grill in perfect condition in no time. Remember that proper care and maintenance of your unit will prevent frequent breakdowns, maintain performance efficiency and increase the grill’s lifespan.