Troubleshoot your Traeger pellet grill with ease. Learn how to fix a stalled auger and get back to grilling in minutes with our easy step-by-step troubleshooting guide.
We know the drill: you’re all set to ignite your Traeger pellet grill when suddenly, the auger stalls, leaving those flavorful wood pellets stranded. But why is your Traeger’s auger not turning?
The auger is like the conveyor belt of your pellet grill. Powered by a motor, it rotates and delivers the wood pellets from the hopper to the firepot. Once there, they are ignited, producing the consistent heat and smoke we need for pellet cooking.
But if this auger stops turning, the supply chain of pellet to heat will break down, and we won’t get that fire blazing.
If your auger has stopped working, worry not: we’re here to help. Together, we’ll diagnose the issue and navigate the steps you need to take to troubleshoot and fix your pellet grill. By following along, you’ll have your Traeger’s auger turning smoothly again.
Initial Diagnostic Checks
Alright, now that we’re all on the same page, let’s start with some basic checks. These are like the “Have you tried turning it off and on again?” of the pellet grill world.
Ensure the Grill is Powered On
I know, I know, it sounds obvious. But trust me, it’s an easy oversight. Ensure your grill is plugged in and the power switch on the rear of the hopper is set to ‘ON’. The controller display should light up, allowing you to set the temperature and ignite the grill.
Update the Grill’s Firmware
As much as Traeger’s tech can help with pellet grilling, it can sometimes get in the way. Occasionally, Traeger releases firmware updates to improve performance. Ensure your grill’s firmware is updated to avoid any unexpected hiccups.
Poor weather conditions can impact any form of backyard grilling, and as is the case for pellet grilling. If you’re cooking in cold conditions, the auger will need to work harder to maintain your target temperature. This increase in feed speed can sometimes cause a backlog of pellets, leading to jams. Consider getting an insulating blanket to place over the main chamber of your Traeger to help maintain higher ambient temperatures in the grill.
In hot weather, you run the risk of the engine overheating and shutting down. Keep the grill out of direct sunlight as much as possible.
Clogged or Dirty Fire Pot
One of the easiest fixes for a jammed auger is to ensure that your pellet grill’s fire pot is clear of ash and debris.
The fire pot is a bowl-shaped component of your grill, sat directly underneath your grill’s fire guard, drip tray, and grates. This is where the auger feeds pellets into for them to burn. After repeated uses, pellet ash and debris can build up and create a blockage, jamming the auger. This needs regular cleaning and many Traeger models in fact flash up a warning on their display unit when the fire pot starts to fill. But, hey, we all get lazy and blockages can happen.
How to Check the Fire Pot
- Ensure your grill is off, unplugged, and has cooled down
- Remove the grill grates, drip tray, and fire guard that sit over the fire pot
- You will probably see a lot of ash and debris in the fire pot, in which case remove it. The best way to do this is with the nozzle of a vacuum cleaner
- Check the end of the auger tube that feeds into the fire pot. This could also be clogged with ash or debris. If this is stubborn to remove, use a small rod or end of a spoon to dislodge it.
After this, reinstall the guard, drip tray and grates, before plugging in and reigniting the grill. With the blockage cleared, your auger will hopefully start working and feed pellets into the fire pot. If this doesn’t happen, read on below.
Check the Auger Motor Pin
Your pellet grill’s motor pin is a small but crucial component that connects the motor to the auger, transferring rotational force and keeping the auger turning smoothly so that it can feed wood pellets into the firepot.
So if the auger isn’t turning, the motor pin could be the culprit. This is how to check the auger motor pin:
- Ensure your grill is turned off and unplugged before inspecting any internal components. Also, remove any remaining pellets from your grill’s hopper.
- Unscrew and remove your Traeger’s controller, located on the hopper
- Unscrew the hopper from the main grill unit (usually there are two screws at the front and two at the back)
- Carefully lift and remove the hopper from the grill. The controller should feed through the hopper shell and stay connected to the grill.
- You should then have access to the auger motor. The motor pin is typically a small cylindrical piece that sits behind the auger motor.
- Inspect the pin, ensuring it is undamaged, in place, and fitting snugly behind the motor. If it’s missing, worn out or broken, then this is likely to be the reason your auger isn’t turning.
If you need to replace the motor pin, the good news is that they’re inexpensive to buy and can be replaced by contacting Traeger support.
One of the most common issues impacting the turning of your auger is an auger jam. Pellet grills rely on a smooth flow of pellets, and any blockage can obstruct this, slowing or even halting the turning of your grill’s auger.
A jam is particularly likely to occur when pellets get stuck in the auger shaft. This can happen due to a buildup of pellet debris, or even poor-quality pellets and moisture.
How to Check for a Jammed Auger
- Always start by turning off your grill and disconnecting it from the power source. Safety first!
- Remove all the pellets from the hopper to get a clear view and prevent any additional pellets from entering the auger while you’re working.
- In the grill chamber, remove the grates, drip pan, and heat baffle. You should now have a clear view of each end of the auger tube.
- Grab hold of the end of the auger and try to turn it manually. If the auger won’t spin or you’re met with resistance, it’s likely jammed with wet or clumped pellets.
The method for clearing the auger jam will depend on what model of Traeger pellet grill you have: WiFire, Non-WiFire, and either Timberline or Ironwood.
How to Clear an Auger Jam in a WiFIRE-Enabled Grill
The good news is that Traeger’s WiFIRE pellet grills each have an inbuilt ‘Clear Auger’ function and, while not completely foolproof, can help clear the problem in most cases.
- Double-check that your pellet grill’s hopper is empty
- Clean the firepot, found at the bottom of your Traeger’s chamber, underneath the grates and guard
- On your grill’s control unit, find the ‘Clear Auger’ function by navigating to Menu > Auger> Clear Auger.
- Activate the function. This will run for about 20-30 seconds and repeat until you cancel the function on your controller’s menu.
- If this doesn’t work, you will need to clear the auger manually using the steps below
How to Clear an Auger Jam Manually
If your grill is non-WiFire enabled, or if the ‘Clear Auger’ function on your WiFire grill didn’t work, you will need to clear the auger manually. Thankfully, this isn’t as difficult as it sounds.
- Unscrew the grill’s controller unit, and then unscrew and remove the hopper cover
- Locate the Shear pin, found between the motor and auger. Unscrew this pin to remove the motor.
- Remove the screw found at the head of the auger behind the bushing, and then use a strong wrench to free the auger (this might take a bit of force).
- Pull the auger out of the auger shaft (not completely), and wiggle it around while pushing it in and out to help clear the jam. Any lodged pellet debris should clear and work its way down the auger shaft into the firebox, which we can clear later.
- Use a vacuum cleaner to clear any excess pellet debris, including in the firebox
- Reassemble the auger, motor and hopper. You’re now ready to go!
If your motor’s pin is in place and the auger is clear of blockages, the next likely culprit is the auger motor. This is the driving force behind the entire grill’s pellet delivery system, so if this isn’t working, then the auger won’t turn. The problem could be as simple as loose wiring, or more significant with motor damage. This is how to find the problem.
- After shutting down the grill and unplugging it, unscrew the controller and then unscrew and remove the hopper cover.
- Look for signs of obvious damage to the motor (e.g, corrosion, wear, or even the smell of overheating)
- Look for any loose connections, frayed wires, or signs of melting that could disrupt power to the motor.
- If any wires are loose, tighten the connections; if they are damaged, replace them to ensure a safe and functional connection.
- The terminals where the wires connect to the motor should be clean and free from corrosion. Dirty or corroded terminals can prevent proper electrical flow.
- Locate the fuse (refer to your user manual if you’re unsure where it is) and check if it’s blown. If it looks dark or cloudy, it’s time for a replacement.
- Finally, check the connection from the control panel to the motor. Unplug and reconnect the auger motor to ensure a solid connection.
- Reassemble the grill and attempt ignition to see if the motor functions properly. If it doesn’t, you will need to contact Traeger customer service and may need to replace the motor.
How to Prevent Auger Problems
With your auger fixed and back up and running again, there are some steps you can take to help keep your auger turning for all future cooks.
Clean the Auger and Hopper Regularly
A clean grill is a happy grill. Make it a habit to regularly clean your pellet grill, including the auger and hopper, to prevent blockages and ensure smooth operation.
Use Good Quality Pellets
Always use high-quality hardwood pellets. They burn cleaner, feed into the auger smoother, and are less likely to break apart and create blockages.
Keep Wood Pellets Dry
Moisture is the enemy of wood pellets. If your pellets have been exposed to humidity or rain, they can swell, degrade, and cause jams. Always store your wood pellets in a dry place in an airtight container and check for any signs of moisture before use.
The Final Word
If your auger has stopped working, the most common cause is a jam caused by pellet debris or moisture spoiling the pellets. These can quickly and easily be fixed by cleaning your fire pot and auger tubes, although it’s always worth checking out mechanical issues like the motor’s wiring and the alignment of the motor pin. With good pellet grill care and maintenance, you can help prevent this issue in the long term.
Have you had a problem with your Traeger’s auger? How did you fix it? Let us know in the comments below!