Pellet Grill Ash: Where It Goes and How Often to Clean

Pellet Grill Ash: Where It Goes and How Often to Clean

Pellet grills have become more popular as more home chefs are using pellet grills for smoking meats, grilling food, and even baking pizzas and desserts.

Although pellet grills may seem magical given how versatile these cooking machines are, I hear one common question: Where does the ash in a pellet grill go?

Pellet grills burn wood pellets in order to create heat and smoke. So naturally, there will be ash that gets created after the wood pellets burn.

So where does the ash in a pellet grill go?

Pellet grills will accumulate ash in the firepot and the bottom of the grill’s barrel as wood pellets are burned. The ash needs to be cleaned out of the firepot after every 2 to 3 cooking sessions in order for the pellet grill to continue to operate normally. Some pellet grills have removable ashtrays while others require a shop vacuum to be used to clean out the firepot.

So ash will accumulate in a pellet grill’s firepot and the bottom of the grill’s barrel. The ash must periodically be cleaned out of the firepot for the grill to continue to operate normally.

Let’s cover where the firepot is located in a pellet grill and how to correctly restart a pellet grill after cleaning out the firepot.

Locating the Firepot in a Pellet Grill

Below is an image of the firepot in my Traeger lil tex. I recently vacuumed the firepot in my pellet grill but you can see that there is literally a cylindrical chamber that wood pellets get fed into.

Firepot in Traeger pellet grill

Usually, the metal box, called a heat baffle, will sit on top of the firepot so that the smoke and heat can get distributed throughout the grill. The heat baffle can be removed or slid over in order to reveal the firepot.

In the image below, I am vacuuming out the firepot in my Traeger. The firepot can be easily located in a Traeger since it is in the bottom of the grill’s barrel and on the side closest to the hopper which feeds in the wood pellets.

Location of Firepot in Traeger

Use Shop Vac to Vacuum Ash from Pellet Grill Firepot

In order to clean out most firepots in a pellet grill, the ash needs to be vacuumed out.

Some pellet grills have removable ashtrays but my Traeger does not so I use a shop vacuum in order to safely clean out all the ash from my pellet grill.

Do NOT use a regular household vacuum to remove ash from a pellet grill. If the ash is still hot then a regular household vacuum may get damaged. Shop vacuums should also not be used with red hot ash and coals but are safer to use on pellet grills.

If you do not already own a shop vacuum, see this guide for the best shop vacuums for pellet grills.

Shop vacuums are great since they can also be used for cleaning out your car, sucking up liquids in the garage, and cleaning up sawdust and wood chips.

Step-by-Step Photo Guide for Vacuuming Ash from Pellet Grill

Here are the steps in order to vacuum ash from a pellet grill’s firepot and correctly restart a pellet grill.

See this in-depth guide on restarting a pellet grill for more pictures but the primary steps are listed below for vacuuming ash from a pellet grill and correctly restarting it.

1) Remove The Grill Grate

removing the grill grate

2) Remove The Drip Tray

Drip Tray in Traeger Pellet Grill

3) Slide The Heat Baffle Over To Uncover Firepot

Heat Baffle in Traeger Pellet Grill

4) Vacuum The Firepot And Inside Of Grill

Vacuuming ash from firepot in pellet grill

5) Turn Pellet Grill On And Set To High

6) Turn Off Grill After 5 Pellets Fall Into Firepot

Firepot in Traeger pellet grill

7) Put The Pellet Grill Back Together

8) Use Regular Ignition Sequence To Fire Up Grill

Once the pellet grill ignites the wood pellets, there will be a lot of smoke coming from the pellet grill. Once the temperature begins to rise, the cooking temperature can be set.

If the pellet grill’s temperature starts rising +50°F than what you set it then give the grill 1 to 2 minutes to see if the temp stabilizes and comes down. If there are too many pellets in the firepot then the temperature will shoot up until the excess pellets burn off.

I highly recommend waiting 10 to 15 minutes in order to allow the grill to preheat and the cooking temperature to stabilize.

Final Thoughts

As wood pellets burn in a pellet grill, ash will be created which will accumulate in the firepot and the bottom of the grill’s barrel.

The firepot is where wood pellets burn but pellet grills also have fans that generally blow the ash into the grill’s barrel. However, over time, the firepot may accumulate too much ash where the fire will get smothered and the grill will shut off.

So make sure to vacuum out the ash from a pellet grill after every 2 to 3 cooking sessions.

It’s also a good idea to clean the drip tray and grease trap on the pellet grill after every 2 to 3 cooking sessions as well. If there is too much grease and fat build-up on the drip tray then the pellet grill may catch on fire.

Although pellet grills are incredibly easy to use and beginner-friendly, they still require periodic maintenance to keep them running in tip-top shape.

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Steven

I'm learning how to catch, grow, and cook my own natural food and my goal is to help others eat more food from nature. Eating natural food can taste great, be affordable and accessible with a little planning. Don't get me wrong, I still eat taco bell and pizzas every so often, but I'm trying to eat more dank food from nature! So let's eat tasty natural food together.

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