There is a range of potential issues which can impact your Traeger pellet grill working correctly or not turning on. The RTD temperature sensor may have failed, perhaps the hot rod has burnt through, or the induction fan has stopped providing air for combustion. However, I believe one of the most common issues, which can also be frustrating to deal with, is a jammed pellet feed auger or auger motor failure. With this post, I wanted to discuss why your pellet feed auger may have become jammed and how to correct the issue. In some cases, the auger motor or the auger itself may need replacing.
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: Check out my Traeger error codes article if your grill won’t turn on, but you don’t know what the issue actually is.
Introduction To Auger Jams and Motor Replacements
So let’s presume, for example, that your Traeger controller still turns on. However, after setting a temperature, you don’t have any grill pellets entering the firepot. Now, while the motor itself could have potentially failed, you first need to check the auger is not blocked/jammed.
Why could the auger have become jammed? Well, there are two potential causes. The first is contamination from a hard foreign object. Perhaps a screw/nail somehow got into your pellet hopper. However, the more common/likely scenario is water/rain got into the pellet hopper.
A typical scenario was the hopper lid was open, and a rain shower came over. You see, when wood pellets go bad through absorbing moisture, they expand. Their absorption qualities are what make them such a good animal bedding product. However, when wet pellets expand, they can lock up feed augers.
The auger motor simply doesn’t have the power to force the wet expanded pellets into the burn pot. Plus, even if it did, that wet dust is not going to ignite and burn.
Therefore you have got to strip down your Traeger grill and remove the auger motor and auger. However, as seen in the video below, that can be easier said than done.
Now the video above from Traeger on how to remove the jammed auger using a wrench and then cleaning out the tube with a ‘flat object’ can work. However, to be honest, that auger wasn’t blocked to the extent I’ve seen in many other examples.
I would have guessed that they added some moisture to those pellets, but they haven’t expanded to the extent they would if a heavy rain shower went into the pellet hopper.
Therefore, the best method to remove the old auger and clean out the auger tube is to use a drill. Now, you can use a battery drill, but make sure its got enough power.
You’ll likely find this job a lot easier with a corded grill. To see how easy it can be to remove a jammed auger and to clean out the pellet feed tube, I’ve included the video below.
First, you will obviously have to remove the auger motor. You can then slide the drills chuck onto the end of the auger shaft. Make sure you properly tighten the chuck to make sure you have a good grip on the auger. Importantly you need to set the drill into reverse first to be able to get the jammed auger out.
Once removed, you still have got to clean out the auger tube of the dried/expanded sawdust in the auger tube. In some cases, it can literally be set like concrete. Therefore, now set the drill to forward and re-insert the auger. Move the drill/auger back and forth to completely clean out the jammed auger tube.
To make removing and cleaning the auger tube as easy as possible you are going to want to use a powerful corded drill such as a Dewalt: Image – Amazon.com
Modern Traeger Grill Augers and Auger Motor Removal
The official video above from Traeger on how to remove the hopper and auger motor to get access to the auger itself is only applicable to first-generation Trager grills and the current budget range.
The current premium Traeger grills have a different construction, hopper assembly and control panel. Namely, the D2 Direct Drive system.
What I do find rather odd is the design choice differences Traeger made with the current Pro Series and the Ironwood/Timberline pellet grills.
With the Pro Series, as is the case with the older generation Traeger pellet grills and as can be seen in the first video above, to access the auger, it requires a full hopper strip down.
However, with the current Ironwood/Timberline models, its simply a case of removing a small panel on the side of the pellet hopper, and you instantly have access to the auger motor. In terms of being quickly able to resolve a jammed pellet auger, the new Ironwood/Timberline grills are a much better design.
Replacing the Auger Motor and/or Auger on a Traeger Pellet Grill
In terms of sourcing replacement parts, I’ve provided two options below. You can either go the official route and order new parts directly from Traeger. Alternatively, you can order non-branded parts.
After you have removed the jammed auger and cleaned the auger tube, its time to start putting the components back together. However, before you put the auger back into the pellet grill, examine its condition. Is the auger heavily corroded/rusty or even bent?
The events which led to the auger becoming blocked in the first place (foreign object/wet pellets) can, in some cases, also damage the auger. If you are concerned about the condition of the auger, you can get replacements.
You do have to be careful to purchase the correct length of auger for your particular Traeger pellet grill. So measure your old auger before ordering a new one.
For instance, the images above are of 21″ and 25″ augers. Its now time to find out if the auger motor is still working or if it needs to be replaced. As the auger became blocked, this can potentially cause motor failure.
However, its more common for the fuse to blow on the back of the control panel. So first, check or change the fuse and turn the control panel on. You will know if the auger motor is working as you will see if the fan on the back spinning. If not, then its time to change over the auger motor/gearbox.
Conclusions on Resolving a Jammed Auger/Faulty Auger Motor
A faulty auger motor often comes hand-in-hand with a jammed auger. As the reason the auger motor failed was likely due to the auger becoming jammed and the excessive force placed upon the gearbox/motor.
However, commonly after cleaning out a jammed pellet feed auger and swapping in a new fuse into the control panel, you’ll be good to go! So hold off on purchasing a new auger motor until you are sure you actually need one.
You may also want to look into charcoal pellets, as 100% charcoal pellets will not absorb water and cause an auger blockage. However, don’t be under that assumption with charcoal-blended pellets.
That’s it, I hope you found this post useful, and it helps you get your Traeger grill up and running. You may also be interested in my other Traeger-related posts, such as the best Traeger accessories or how Traeger grill pellets are made. There are many more in 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.
Now, you may already be aware of a few of the other brands such as Pit Boss, Camp Chef, Z Grills and I’m sure you are aware of Weber, though you may not have known they have entered the pellet grill game. However, they are now many, many more brands to look into. Some may be what are commonly referred to as ‘Traeger clones’, but many others are offering their own unique designs and features.
A pellet grill/smoker is only as good as the BBQ pellets you put into it. The type/quality of the BBQ wood pellets you use will impact temperature performance and smoke flavour. There are many pellet flavours including Apple, Hickory, Mapel, Oak and Walnut to name but a few. However, some brands are hardwood blended pellets whereas others are 100% single wood species.
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.