Smoke problems...HELP!

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by mtesnohlidek, May 26, 2014.

  1. mtesnohlidek

    mtesnohlidek Newbie

    I'm looking for some advise.  I have a homemade propane smoker/grill (I know, a lot of people don't like the propane route but...) and I can get a lot of smoke out of my smoker box until I turn up the heat in the main grilling area. As soon as I turn on a burner to bring up the temp, the smoke does nothing.

    What am I missing? Evidently the heat is not allowing or drawing the smoke into the main barrel.  Any suggestions?  I have another one similar with a longer chimney on the smoker but have the same problem.

  2. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Can you smell any smoke at all coming out the vents after firing the main burner? Any sting to the eyes at all?

    Sounds like the smoke is entering the smoke/cooking chamber too near the flame and is getting dispersed by the high heat of the burner...super-heating the smoke and causing it to break-down. I may be wrong, but myself and others were working on the cause of this same phenomena with pellet smoke generators in charcoal fired rigs a couple years ago. The smoke became very translucent...nearly invisible to the naked eye, when  the smoke passed through or too near the coal-bed. I may have a fix for you, if this is the case, but it will require some mods to your rig involving the release of the smoke a bit higher up, away from the burners. An internal riser tube may be what it will take to correct this, but let me know if you can smell any smoke or not.

    Also, snap me a pic of the the smoke enters the cooking chamber, in specific, and the proximity of the smoke to the I can see if you have any extensions or risers on the smoke generator's discharge into the cooker.

  3. mtesnohlidek

    mtesnohlidek Newbie

    There is no smoke smell and I do not feel it in my eyes at all when I open it up or am peaking in. Something that I didn't put in my original post is that when I open the door to the smoking chamber the pellets will start smoking again. I will take some pictures and post them when I get a chance. Thank you for the help.
  4. Are your pellets getting their air from outside the smoker? If not it sounds like maybe your burners are using up all the available oxygen when you turn them up & there isn't enough for the pellets to burn properly. Just a quick thought...
    Last edited: May 28, 2014
  5. mtesnohlidek

    mtesnohlidek Newbie

    There is no outside air coming into the smoker so you may be right.... Do you have any suggestions on how to get air in
    to the smoker box?
  6. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Being your smoke generator is external, I don't think the lack of fresh air coming into the smoke chamber would matter. If the exhaust vents are open, there should be a slight draft pulling through the external smoke box and out into the smoke chamber. I guess there is a possibility that the with the burners lit, the air/gases are expanding so much that it puts positive pressure against the smoke generator, but then you should see smoke venting out of the smoke box, so, that just doesn't make much sense. I'm just trying to rule out any other phenomenon here.

    I just looked again on a have 2 small holes between the burner tubes, so there is a little fresh air coming into the smoke chamber, correct?

  7. mtesnohlidek

    mtesnohlidek Newbie

    That is correct Eric.
  8. mtesnohlidek

    mtesnohlidek Newbie

    Eric-- I have two pipes from my smoker to the main chamber. Round one is between burners and square one is just below....maybe three inches.
  9. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    OK, a couple things I'm tossing around here...with your smoke-box output under and level with the burner/flame, I suspect it is breaking-down the smoke before it can get above the heat source. Your previous mention that when you open the lid and you can see smoke starting again, this may be caused from it getting some fresh, cooler air near the smoke-box outlet to the smoke chamber...I'm just not sure on this.

    Something I missed earlier, about no air into the smoke-box...if this is the case, and you have a fairly tight-fitting door, you'll need some air holes on the lower portion of that cylinder (either on the bottom, or on the side) so your smoke wood can smolder once it gets going and you close it all up. A good system will adjustable intakes for the smoke wood. This could be a cross over a hole with a stud or bolt welded to the center and a disc with a hole for the stud, then a nut welded to the disc, on center. That simple vent control can be turned towards or away from the wall to increase/decrease air flow. With the cylinder, you could add a 2" piece of pipe to mount the intake air control onto, so it has a flat surface to contact.

    If having a controllable air intake for the smoke box doesn't allow a strong smoke to continue when the lid is closed and the flame is on, then you need to release the smoke well above the heat source, as it could be breaking down due the burner's heat.

    I see that you have possibly a small propane burner for a smoke-wood heat source, as there's a gas line branching down from the cook chamber fuel line, so it shouldn't be an issue keeping the smoke wood hot enough to smoke, but without additional air for the wood, it will be a very light, almost unnoticeable smoke, unless something changes which increases the air flow through the smoke box...opening the lid may be causing just that.

    All that said, if you don't have fresh air into the smoke box, you'll need to work that out before making any other changes. Turns out, this should be the simplest fix as well. Then proceed with additional mods if this doesn't get a good smoke rolling through the smoke/cooking chamber. The beauty of having adjustable air flow to the smoke box is that you will have that to work with adjustable heat for superior control of the smoke output. If the smoke is breaking down from cook chamber burner heat, none of it will matter until that issue is corrected, if in fact that problem exists.

    I think I've got my head in the game now...I was wickedly tired when I posted last night, and I don't think I read everything bad.

    Oh, one last thought after re-reading from the first post, you may be able omit additional mods inside the cook chamber by closing off holes for the gas/flame where it's closest to the smoke box discharge (self-tapping screws, if they're small enough, could be easily removed later)...this would reduce the heat near the smoke and hopefully prevent the break-down of smoke from high heat...easy fix there, but it creates a dead-spot (no heat) on your cooking grate of, say 6" x 8", give or take. When you're smoking, you may want to close the right-hand cook chamber vent and just vent with the left side, to carry more smoke throughout the cook chamber...but you probably already thought of that.

  10. mtesnohlidek

    mtesnohlidek Newbie

    Thanks for all the input Eric.  The smoker box is not really air tight, but I think it is probably a good idea to put an air intake in the box.  I have tried just lighting the far back burner (which is usually how I get low heat), which is about 8 inches from the smoke box pipes.  I think if the extra air flow in the smoker box doesn't work, I will try raising the smoke input up higher like you recommended.

    I tend to think it is the heat issue inside the cooking chamber rather than the air flow.....when I open the door to the smoke box, it starts to smoke but the smoke still doesn't rise into exits out the door.  Trial and error I guess!
  11. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Sounds like you need a tight seal on the smoke box door, then add an intake to control flow...this should help with creating a draft in the smoke box. Carrying that draft through the cook chamber is the next step, and then, carrying the smoke all the way across the grates and out the opposite end. That's where closing the right-hand vent will help some, but you may also need a riser that comes up from grate level and attaches to the vent pipe on the left end. This is a typical mod for sfb/horizontals, and aids in carrying the heat and smoke across the grates to the far end.

  12. mtesnohlidek

    mtesnohlidek Newbie

    So I thought I would give you an update in case you ever find someone else with this problem.  I tried a lot of the different suggestions and finally had a thought.....the flame in the smoker was very small.  I thought maybe there was too much of a heat imbalance, so I cranked the heat in the smoker and raised the pellets so they didn't catch fire, and it worked.  The smoke won't move from the cooler smoker to the hotter main chamber.  It smokes like a champ now even with the burners on in the main chamber.

    Thanks for all the suggestions though.
  13. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Good work on finding the solution!!!


Share This Page