Junior Elite is overheating, stopping, etc.

Brwmst

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I am at the end of my rope and joined the forum to get some insight from you folks. I thought I would throw all the issues out here, then address them by each if necessary. Before this, I lead a happy existence with my electric Brinkman. I babysat this cheap red bullet and fed it stainless boxes of chips every 45 minutes, and she rewarded me with delicious moist brisket, ribs, and butts. Sadly she was cut down in her prime by a rogue Labrador pup that gnawed the cord off the heating element. For three years, I have been in an abusive relationship with the 20” Junior Elite. With my Stockholm syndrome firmly ensconced, I start this thing up weekly knowing she won’t let me down this time, and every time I am disappointed.

These are the issues:
Runaway heat: There is no standard set of circumstances that support why on too many occasions when the temperature is set at 250F, the grill will jump to 475F and, if not caught in time, will incinerate what was meant to be smoked.

Shuts down: With longer cooks 4+ hours (sometimes less), the crucible will fill with pellets and shutdown. I vacuum it out, restart and resume the cook.

The Traeger probe is clean
I have played with the p-settings
Crucible and smoker vacuumed clean before every cook
Pellet brand doesn’t have any effect
Ambient temp doesn’t change these issues

Is this a one-off for just me? Has the technology changed to alleviate these issues, and should I upgrade? Am I expecting too much? I don’t mind some extra labor, should I look for another smoker or BGE?

Thanks for your help!
 

saint067

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I was just gifted the same model that you have and from the start I am having the exact same issues. No rhyme or reason as to why.
 

traeger860

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saint067

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I received this as a gift previously used one time but a couple of years old. I ran through the old pellets that were still in the hopper until it was empty then started over as if it were the first startup after it sat overnight. I will try again this weekend and see if I get a different result. Everything was going great until it lost fire about 2 1/2 hours in. I had to restart and from there it just went bonkers with the temp fluctuations. Whether it's still under warranty I have no idea. I would guess yes but have no paperwork for it. It came from an elderly couple that just couldn't manage using it.
 

saint067

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Just based on what I experienced I don't think it's the temperature sensor. I believe the digital readout matched what was going on inside the pit. The mechanism truly does look brand new. The pit was completely covered while not being used. I took it apart and cleaned everything just to be sure before I ever fired it up the first time.
 

saint067

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I could not find any identifying serial numbers or model information on the pit itself so not sure how I would go about verifying if it were under warranty.
 

traeger860

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When the fire went out for a few hours, do you know if the fire pot had pellets in it?
 

traeger860

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I could not find any identifying serial numbers or model information on the pit itself so not sure how I would go about verifying if it were under warranty.
Check under the hopper lid. They usually have a 3 year warranty.
 

saint067

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It wasn't out for hours. Maybe 20 minutes. I saw the temp bottoming out down below 100 degrees and opened it up and could see no fire but I had a grill full of meat, so I did a shut down and then back to smoke to restart it .. then back to 225 where I was originally set.

Guessing maybe I screwed up that sequence. I'm brand new at this and tried to follow the manual as best I could given the circumstances.
 

saint067

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When I fired it back up it lit right away so I would think there were pellets in there. possibly too many and it snuffed out the fire?
 

JamesB

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I received this as a gift previously used one time but a couple of years old. I ran through the old pellets that were still in the hopper until it was empty then started over as if it were the first startup after it sat overnight. I will try again this weekend and see if I get a different result. Everything was going great until it lost fire about 2 1/2 hours in. I had to restart and from there it just went bonkers with the temp fluctuations. Whether it's still under warranty I have no idea. I would guess yes but have no paperwork for it. It came from an elderly couple that just couldn't manage using it.
If you were using pellets that were two years old, that could definitely be related to your problems, especially in Louisiana with high humidity.
I’m not really clear on what you did in regard to those old pellets, but if you tried to use them up before starting your cook with fresh pellets, I would definitely recommend thoroughly cleaning the ash and any pellets out of the fire pot before your next attempt.
When I hear of problems like this, the first thing I recommend is fresh, quality pellets.
 

saint067

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If you were using pellets that were two years old, that could definitely be related to your problems, especially in Louisiana with high humidity.
I’m not really clear on what you did in regard to those old pellets, but if you tried to use them up before starting your cook with fresh pellets, I would definitely recommend thoroughly cleaning the ash and any pellets out of the fire pot before your next attempt.
When I hear of problems like this, the first thing I recommend is fresh, quality pellets.
It was maybe 2-3 cups of the old pellets. I burned them off on the first go and then shut it down.

The next day I used all new pit boss hickory and went through the whole process again and everything was great. It was only after the 2 1/2 hours into my cook that it lost fire and I had to restart and then the trouble began.

I will clean out the firepot before I try again for sure.

I didn't see a clean out door on this model to empty pellets. Do you just scoop them out by hand when you are finished cooking?
 

JamesB

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I didn't see a clean out door on this model to empty pellets. Do you just scoop them out by hand when you are finished cooking?
Yes, you could certainly do that, however, I leave pellets in my hopper all the time (I’m in humid Texas) and have never had problems with bad pellets. I use my Traeger at least once or twice a week though, so if you aren’t going to use it for a while, I suggest cleaning out the hopper and the auger tube.
 

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