If you are having trouble with your Traeger pellet grill there are a variety of potential issues/faults which could be causing the problem. If your grill is lighting but not maintaining the correct set temperature it could be an issue with the RTD temperature sensor or even the Traegers control panel. But what if your Traeger pellet grill fails to turn on or fire up at all? Well, if we presume your control panel lights up there are three potential causes for the Traeger not to fire up, the auger motor, induction fan or the hot rod igniter has failed. Let’s again presume you have pellets feeding into the burn pot and you can hear the induction fan. This, therefore, means the faulty component is the hot rod igniter on your Traeger pellet grill.
As you will see after watching the videos below changing/replacing the hot rod igniter on a Traeger pellet grill is pretty straightforward: Image – Amazon.com
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.
So with this post, I’m going to reference the official method from Traeger on how to replace the hot rod igniter on a pellet grill. However, I’m also going to include a more detailed amateur video that shows whats its like to complete this job on a real used pellet grill. I’ll also discuss the reasons why a hot rod igniter can fail.
However, if you don’t have a new hot rod to hand and you want to use your pellet grill I have an article on how to manually ignite a pellet grill without relying on the hot rod igniter to do it for you.
How To Change A Traeger Hot Rod Igniter
So as described above in the introduction to this post. First, you have to identify that the other elements of the Traeger grill are working correctly. Hence, when you turn the grill on you can hear the induction fan working along with the pellet feed auger. Therefore you have fuel and air for the fire to get going. However, you also need to check your wood pellets have not gone bad. If they have absorbed moisture they will struggle to fire, even if your hot rod igniter is working perfectly.
Before you dismantle your Traeger pellet grill you need to evaluate if the hot rod igniter is where the problem really lies: Image – Amazon.com
Now if your control panel is not turning on at all, while it may be faulty it also may simply be that the fuse on the back of the control panel has blown. You will notice in the image above of the hot rod igniter kit many suppliers also provide a spare cylindrical fuse. I’ll write a separate post soon on how to change this fuse and troubleshoot a lack of power to your Traeger grill.
However, to continue with this post on how to change the hot rod igniter, let’s presume your control panel, feed auger and induction far are working and the issue is a failed/faulty hot rod igniter. Before you continue to dismantle your pellet grill as shown in the videos below you must unplug your grill from the mains outlet.
Official Traeger Guide On Replacing The Hot Rod Igniter
The first video I want to reference is the official advice from Traeger on how to safely dismantle the pellet grill and replace the hot rod. Now, I would encourage you to watch this video. However, I have also included what I think is a better video below from a Traeger owner.
Why? Well, the Traeger video shows the replacement on a brand new grill. However, you will be replacing the hot rod on a used grill which brings in other issues/challenges as you will see. Something you will want to do is clean your pellet grill before you start this job. Vacuum out the bottom of the grill and burn pot, as well as empty the hopper of pellets.
I’ll just quickly run through the various steps in the official Traeger process on how to replace the hot rod igniter as shown in the video above:
- Unplug the Traeger pellet grill from the mains.
- Empty the pellet hopper and unscrew the control panel.
- Unscrew and remove the pellet hopper body.
- Cut the cable zip ties and disconnect the RTD wires (white wires).
- Remove the grill trays, drip pan and heat deflector/baffle tray.
- Use a 1/4″ driver and remove the 4 nuts holding in the firepot.
- Loosen the hot rod screw, but do not remove it.
- Slide-out the hot rod from the burn pot and remove it.
- Insert the new hot rod through the hole on the side of the grill.
- Reassemble following the steps above in reverse.
The official Traeger video is perfectly adequate and does a reasonable job showing how to remove the old hot rod and insert the new one. However, as I’ve stated previously, on a real/used grill its potentially not going to be that simple. Therefore, I’ve included another video below which I think better reflects the more likely experience you will have when it comes to changing your hot rod igniter.
With pellet fires, the combustion temperature at the centre of the fire (around the hot rod igniter) is around a thousand degrees. Hence, over time these very high combustion temperatures denature the metal and the igniter can become fragile and break. The same goes for the firepot. Over time the bottom of the firepot will corrode through. Therefore, when some Traeger owners change out the hot rod igniter they also replace the fire pot at the same time.
Some suppliers provide a bundle of a new Traeger fire pot and hot rod igniter: Image – Amazon.com
Conclusions on Traeger Hot Rod Igniter Replacement
As stated above, before you start to strip down your Traeger pellet grill to replace the hot rod igniter you need to make sure its not the feed auger which is not working or the induction fan. While the hot rod igniter is obviously crucial for the fire to start so is a steady supply of pellets and air for combustion to take place.
After doing a bit more research in the Traeger owners forums is does appear that some people are replacing the hot rod igniter without removing the hopper. They are taping the new hot rod to the old ones RTD leads before they remove it. Hence, as they pull out the old igniter the new one is carried through. This is not a bad idea, but just be careful. If you feel the new igniter is stuck don’t pull too hard as you may damage it.
That’s it, thanks for reading and I hope you found this post useful. If you are curious about all the best BBQ grill pellets currently on the market or how Traeger grill pellets are made these are just a few of my other posts. There are many more posts in my Wood Pellet Grill/Smoker Guide. Enjoy 🙂
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.