Vent Adjustments for Weber Smokey Mountain Smoker

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by bandcollector, Dec 30, 2013.

  1. Recently purchased an 18.5 Smokey Mountain and have been doing some research here on SMF regarding the adjustment of the lower and upper vents.

    I have established that the upper vent should be left open 100% but most WSM owners state that the lower vents are to be "fiddled with" in order  to achieve the desired target temperature.

    I live in SW Pennsylvania so the temperatures can fluctuate during the winter months.

    Let's suppose that we have ideal weather conditions for smoking a slab of ribs.  

    Can one of you knowledgable vent adjusters run me through the vent adjustment process to achieve a 250 degree temp. setting?

    How many of the bottom vents should be used, how far to open them/it at the beginning , and how much should they/it be open for the achieved target temp (250 deg.).  Will be using the Minion Method for the Kingsford Briquetts.

    Thanks,  John
  2. That's a difficult question to answer accurately as individual results will vary based on many factors such as ambient air temp, humidity, type of coals, ect...

    I have the 22.5" WSM and I use the "Minion Method" when prepping my smoker. I have found that I can hold 225*-240* range by having the lid (exhaust) vent 100% open, 2 out of the 3 lower (intake) vents 100% closed, and the third lower intake vent is the one that gets all the adjusting to dial in the temp... that 3rd vent normally ends up open just slightly, if I had to guess I'd estimate between 10% and 35% open usually does the trick for me. Start with that 3rd vent only slightly open and let the smoker temp stabilize for several min. before making any adjustments, then open in small increments until you reach your ideal temp.

    Keep in mind that the ambient air temp around here rarely drops below 40* in the winter months, and unless there is a storm blowing through the humidity is close to nothing as well...

    Have fun!
  3. hambone1950

    hambone1950 Master of the Pit Group Lead

    I'm smoking some beef ribs on my WSM right now. I've got a full load of charcoal (briquettes and lump mixture) on board and a foil wrapped fire brick in the water pan. The top vent is wide open and two of the bottom vents are open about 1/3 of the way. The 3rd vent is closed tight. Cruising at 250 degrees......
  4. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    In winter time a real fuel saver that works as a insulator and wind break is a welding blanket, it makes it much easier to hold steady temps with only one vent partialy open.

    That is a 22.5" WSM and I use a 6 ft. x 8 ft. welding blanket that only cost me $45. I can run at 250° in windy 28° temps with only one vent part open for over 18 hrs. on one load of the charcoal ring. To remove the lid you just release the top clamp or two and roll it down like pealing a banana - or release the bottom clip to adjust vents. Best of all it folds up into a easy to store square when you don't need it.
  5. Thanks Guys for the responses.

    Now I have a starting point to work with...Either one intake vent open or two intake vents partially open to maintain a steady temp.

    I think If I had to jockey three intake vents it would have driven me a bit loopy.
  6. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    If you are needing to do a 300°+ smoke (chicken or something) open all 3 vents, and leave your water pan dry.
  7. There are a number of factors at play, which means there is no one setting that will fit all conditions. I usually orient one vent down wind which leaves the other 2 quartering into the wind. I usually keep the upwind vents closed and control temp with the single downwind vent. I will gradually open the downwind vent and then open the upwind vents gradually as needed. This would be under ideal conditions. The last smoke I did it was cold and windy and so the upwind vents started partially open and were then gradually opened a needed, the downwind was fully open throughout the smoke..

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