Traeger Not Heating Up: 7 Causes and Fixes

September 15, 2023
Written by Kristy J. Norton
Edited by John Smits 

One common cause of Traeger grills not heating up is a bad hot rod. Other culprits include windy weather, poor-quality wood pellets, and a malfunctioning fan. Your grill might just simply be out of pellets, too! If you’re handy, none of these fixes are very tricky.

A Traeger grill has been my go-to smoker for years. It’s failed to heat up on me a few times. I pride myself on being handy, and I fixed the grill every time. I know the owner’s manual like a priest knows the Bible. 

Today, I’ll pass down my valuable knowledge. I’ll cover every possible reason your Traeger isn’t heating up and explain how to fix it!

traeger not heating up

Common Reasons Traeger Not Heating Up

Here are seven common reasons your Traeger pellet grill is not heating properly.

Note: I’ve got the Traeger Pro 575. These instructions should work for all Traeger pellet grills, but consult your owner’s manual if you’re running stuck.

1. Defective Hot Rod

One main reason a Traeger grill doesn’t heat is because of a faulty hot rod. The hot rod acts as the lighting mechanism for the pellets in the fire pot. It creates a fire that makes the pellets burn. The burning pellets are the fuel source in a pellet grill. They’re responsible for raising the smoker’s temperature.

Unfortunately, hot rods can wear out after a few years… Good news! It’s easy to check your Traeger’s rod.

First, make sure your hopper has pellets. Remove the cooking grate, drip pan, and heat deflector so you can see the firebox. Start the smoker and set it to high heat. Then, open the lid and check if the rod is glowing red. You may need to give it a few minutes. If the rod isn’t glowing red or the pellets haven’t ignited, then you need to replace your grill’s rod. 

Other common symptoms of a faulty hot rod include uneven heat distribution and slow ignition.

How to Fix?

You can either buy a replacement hot rod and replace your old rod yourself or get an expert to do it. If you’re a DIYer, roll up your sleeves! There’s not much to it. Here’s how to replace your rod:

  • Disconnect the Traeger from the power supply. 
  • Empty all the pellets from the pellet hopper.
  • Unscrew the control panel screw using a screwdriver.
  • Unscrew the pellet hopper body.
  • Carefully cut the cable zip ties holding the wiring together. Disconnect the wiring by pulling apart the plastic Molex connector.
  • Remove the grill trays, drip pan, and heat deflector. Now, unscrew the nuts attaching the firepot. You’ll find the screw for the rod there. Loosen the rod screw (don’t remove it) and slide out the hot rod through the burn pot.
  • Get your new hot rod from Traeger and insert it through the hopper side of the grill. Slide it into the burn pot. Tighten the hot rod screw, but do not overtighten.
  • Now, reverse the steps to reassemble the parts.
  • Plug in the grill, fill it with pellets, and test if the fix works.

Here’s a video from Traeger. It’s handy if you’re a visual learner. The video is a step-by-step walk-through of replacing a hot rod. 

2. Ash Debris in the Firepot

The Traeger’s firepot is where the wood pellets are burned. An auger takes the pellets from the hopper to the firepot. 

But for the pellets to burn effectively, they must be in a location that promotes combustion. The firepot has air inlets strategically placed around it. They allow oxygen into the firepot. Your grill’s pellets will burn slower than desired in dirty firepots because the ash buildup restricts the airflow. 

How to Fix?

Use a shop vac to remove all debris from the firepot. Check all the inlets in the firepot and clean them with a brush. You could also wash the firepot, but make sure you dry it with a towel. 

Check out this video if you want a visual guide for cleaning out your firepot.

3. Windy Weather

Windy conditions and pit bosses are like Yankee fans and Red Sox fans. We just don’t get along. Windy conditions can expose your Traeger to too much oxygen, causing a temp spike. Or, the wind can blow out the flame in the firepot, killing your fire. (Although the hot rod should automatically restart the coals.)

If you can, place your grill in an area protected from strong winds. 

How to Fix?

The fix to this issue is straightforward. If you’ve got a garage, bring the smoker inside the garage. Leave the garage door open while you cook so carbon monoxide doesn’t build up.

Don’t try using your home as a windscreen. Your smoker shouldn’t be too close (10’) to any exterior wall of your home. It’s a fire hazard. The heat can also melt or warp construction materials. 

4. Low Quantity of Pellets in the Grill

No pellets, no fire. Your grill won’t work if it doesn’t have pellets. Pellets are the source of both the fuel and the smoke in these grills.

How to Fix?

Pay attention to your pellet pot and add pellets if you see it’s almost empty. Keep your hopper happy. Keep it full of pellets.

5. Poor-quality Wood Pellets

In my experience, Traeger grills don’t work as well with low-quality or moist wood pellets. Poor-quality wood pellets don’t burn as well, so your cooking temperature will be affected when using them. Another issue with low-quality pellets is that they disintegrate faster and can clog your firepot.

If your pellets get moist, they won’t burn or they burn badly. Let them dry out before using.

How to Fix?

Make sure you always use high-quality wood pellets. Store unused pellets in an airtight container in a dark, cool place. I store mine in the garage in a 5-gallon paint bucket with a lid.

Wood Pellets in Hands

6. Malfunctioning Auger

The Traeger’s auger connects the fire pot to the hopper. The auger feeds the pellets from the hopper to the flame in the firepot. 

A broken auger may cause your pellets to be fed more slowly (or not at all), which will affect the grill’s temperature.

How to Fix?

Here’s how to replace a broken auger.

  • Unplug the grill.
  • Remove all pellets from the hopper.
  • Unscrew the controller that’s mounted to the hopper.
  • Remove the screws that mount the hopper to the grill. Remove the hopper and set it aside.
  • Remove the auger motor from the auger using an Allen screw.
  • Remove the auger from the auger shaft.
  • Push all loose pellets from the firetube into the firepot.
  • Vacuum any debris with a shop vac.
  • Stick your new auger in the tube. 
  • Reconnect the auger bracket and motor using the nut and screw.
  • Put everything back together.
  • Plug in your grill. Fill up the hopper with pellets. You should be good to go!

Here’s a step-by-step video if you’re still stuck.

7. Faulty Induction Fan

An induction fan helps control the grill temperature. So, if the fan is broken, your grill will not cook evenly.

How to Fix?

Here’s how you can change the induction fan on your cooker. 

  • Power off the cooker.
  • Next, disconnect the induction fan cords, which are orange, by disconnecting the plastic Molex connector.
  • Remove 4 screws.
  • Switch the old fan with your newly bought replacement fan. Connect the cords back in, and voila!

Again, here’s a video if you’re stuck.

Related Reading

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why is My Traeger Grill Difficult to Ignite?

You may have issues lighting your grill because of bad weather, a faulty auger, or a bad induction fan. Or, your hot rod might be broken.

2. Do I Need Electricity for a Traeger Grill?

Yes, Traeger grills are electric-powered smokers that can be powered with a standard 110V outlet. You will need an extension cord with an appropriate rating and length to power the grill properly.

The pellet grill uses electricity to run the fan—which circulates heat and smoke—and the auger, which in turn feeds wood pellets to the fire. This system produces a consistent flow of heat. 


The Traeger grill is renowned for providing a smoky flavor. They’re so easy – just set the temp and forget it. However, this machine may experience some issues eventually, one of which is failure to heat up properly.

If you notice your Traeger smoker isn’t heating up, your grill’s hot rod may be bad, or there may be excess debris in the firepot. Additionally, you may be a victim of harsh weather or using low-quality pellets. Or you might just be out of pellets! Whatever the issue, refer to my quick fixes to get your Traeger grill up and running in no time.

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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