You’ve come outside, turned your Pit Boss on and everything seems fine. You hear the fan spinning away, and you can hear pellets dropping into the burn pot. However, a little later on you notice your Pit Boss is not gaining temperature and you don’t see any smoke rising from the unit. Eventually, you either see Er2 or Err and a flashing ignitor icon on your pellet grill/smoker. You look up what that Pit Boss error code means and you find out you have got a bad ignitor. So let’s go through how you replace the hot rod igniter on your Pit Boss.
Disclaimer: Hey! By the way… any links on this page that lead to products on Amazon or other sites are affiliate links and I earn a commission if you make a purchase.
Important: If your Pit Boss won’t turn on check out my linked article to track down the cause of the problem.
Introduction To Pit Boss Hot Rod Igniter Replacements
As your Pit Boss is electric, it uses electricity to start the pellet fire via a hot rod igniter. You can think of the hot rod igniter in similar terms to the spark plugs in the engine of your car/truck.
However, unlike a spark plug which is igniting a liquid fuel/air mixture, the hot rod igniter in your Pit Boss is a thermal resistive element that will literally glow red when sufficient power goes through it.
As the pellets touch the hot rod igniter they eventually get hot enough to combust and with sufficient air the fire will be established after a few minutes. But why did your hot igniter fail?
Well, the repeated heating and cooling cycle the hot rod igniter experiences can eventually cause the element inside to snap, which breaks the electrical connection. However, corrosion/rust is also a common cause of hot rod igniter failure.
Below I’ve provided a series of videos Pit Boss has produced on the hot rod igniter replacement process for a wide range of models. Along with a new hot rod igniter which you can source through the links below have a piece of string handy, you’ll see why in the videos below.
Pit Boss Model Specific Hot Rod Igniter Replacement Videos
Pit Boss Copper Series Hot Rod Igniter Removal/Replacement
The Copper series from Pit Boss includes the Tailgater, Classic, Lexington Charleston and the ever popular Austin XL seen on the left. The hot rod igniter replacement process starts with taking off the lower access panel under the hopper, after disconnecting the power cord of course (safety first). After disconnecting the hot rod wire connection to the control panel tie a piece of string to it a couple of feet in length. Once the hot rod is removed/replaced the string will help you pull the new wire back.
Pit Boss Navigator Series Hot Rod Igniter Removal/Replacement
There are currently four models within the Navigator Series, the 550, 850, 1150 and 1250. As shown in the video below, the hot rod igniter replacement process is very similar to that of the Copper Series above. Take care when cutting the cable ties around the wires from the auger, fan, RTD probe and hot rod leading to the control panel. Once the hot rod wire is disconnected, you’ll need to remove all the grates, racks etc to get to the hot rod.
Pit Boss Sportsman Series Hot Rod Igniter Removal/Replacement
The Sportsman Series includes the 500, 820, 1000, 1100 and 1230 are essentially very similar to the Navigator Series above. The differences are really just cosmetic. As such, the process to swap the hot rod igniter is essentially the same. Again, the easiest approach is to use a piece of string to help you feed the new hot rod igniter wire back to the control panel wiring. Also, don’t forget to attach a new zip tie to stop the wires from hitting against the fan blades. You don’t want to end up replacing the fan too.
Pit Boss Pro Series Hot Rod Igniter Removal/Replacement
If you purchased your Pit Boss from Lowes you potentially own a Pro Series model. As the video below shows, to get to the hot rod igniter wires will require removal of the lower access panel on the hopper and cutting the zip ties to loosen the cables. When you remove the burn pot to remove/replace the hot rod, inspect the condition of the pot. Are the air holes looking larger than they should do or is the metal in the base of the burn pot getting thin? If so, you may also want to swap it out, more details below.
Pit Boss Pro Series Vertical Smoker Hot Rod Igniter Removal/Replacement
The Pit Boss Pro Series line of vertical pellet smokers is also a Lowes exclusive. The process of replacing the hot rod igniter is different to that of the horizontal Pro Series pellet grills/smokers above. You will need to turn the unit on its side and remove the fan. After the removal of an additional side panel as shown in the video, you can reach inside to the hot rod igniter. When inserting the new hot rod igniter, make sure it protrudes into the burn pot by around 1/4 of an inch to get the best results when starting the fire.
Pit Boss Platinum Laredo Hot Rod Igniter Removal/Replacement
The Laredo is part of the Pit Boss Platinum Series, an exclusive line of products only sold through Walmart. The process of removing and replacing the hot rod igniter on the Laredo is pretty much the same as most of the other Pit Boss models above. You get access to the hot rod igniter wires from under the control panel and then remove the contents of the grill to remove the hot rod itself from the burn pot. After installing the new hot rod, its simply a reversal of that process. Then you’re good to go and get BBQing again.
Pit Boss Platinum Brunswick Hot Rod Igniter Removal/Replacement
The vertical pellet smoker as part of the Platinum range is called the Brunswick. As with the Laredo above, its another Walmart exclusive. When it comes to replacing the hot rod igniter, the process is a little different than the other Pit Boss models above. You will be removing the complete burner assembly which contains the burn pot and combustion fan. The burn pot is also a different design with an empty bottom as it sits above an ashtray.
Should You Also Replace The Burn Pot Aswell?
If you have been browsing Amazon looking for a hot rod igniter replacement for your Pit Boss you may have come across hot rod and burn pot bundels. You maybe wondering why that’s the case and should you be replacing your burn pot as well?
You may also be thinking why would a burn pot need to be replaced, its simply a piece of metal with no moving parts, why would it fail? Well, the simple answer to that is corrosion, as a burn pot is going to rust through faster than other metal components on your Pit Boss.
Why is that? Well, pellets do still contain around 5% moisture, they are not completely dry. Hence, when the pellets are burning moisture is present, and under high temperatures, the corrosion process is accelerated.
After many years of use its possible the bottom plate of the burn pot will rust through completely. However, this is not the only possible issue with corrosion in the burn pot.
As you can see in the image above, the burn pot features a series of holes. These holes let the air from the combustion fan enter the burn pot. Well, as the metal around the holes corrodes the holes with get bigger, as they get bigger more air is being forced into the burn pot.
The result can be too much air getting into the burn pot beyond the fuel/air mixture the Pit Boss was designed for. So when you end up changing your hot rod igniter, inspect the burn pot for corrosion.
My Final Thoughts On Pit Boss Hot Rod Replacements…
The hot rod igniter failing in your Pit Boss can be very anyoying/frustrating due the time you may have wasted getting ready to use your pellet grill/smoker than then not being able to. However, that’s not really the case.
Check out my article on manual pellet grill/smoker ignition to still get you going if your hot rod igniter fails. When purchasing a replacement you may also want to consider getting a spare should it happen again.
That’s it! I hope the above has provided you with all the information you need to get you going again if the hot rod igniter has failed on your Pit Boss. If you wish to learn more about all your options check out my Wood Pellet Grill/Smoker Guide. 🙂
Back in 2007 when I first become aware of pellet grills and smokers the only brand I was really aware of was Traeger. Traeger is really where this whole concept of cooking with pellets started in the 1980s. It was a ‘slow burner’ (pardon the pun) but since the 2010s is really when pellet grills and smokers started to get mainstream awareness, discussed alongside gas and charcoal grills. There are now over 30 pellet grill/smoker brands that I’m aware of, and the link above goes to my A to Z list of brands article.
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In this article, I provide details on over 20 brands of BBQ wood pellets, their range of flavours, whether they are 100% single wood species or hardwood blended pellets, their typical price and where they are available. I also provide tips on how to get the best deal when buying BBQ wood pellets and how to test pellet quality. Finally, I discuss the new kid on the block, charcoal pellets and their special attributes compared to all other hardwood BBQ pellets.