The Pit Boss pellet grill is a great tool for outdoor cooking applications. Not only does it impart superb wood flavor, it can be used for anything from quick grilling to all-day affairs, like smoking a whole brisket. When you grill as often as I do, however, you sometimes need to correct certain mechanical issues. That’s why we put together this Pit Boss pellet grill troubleshooting guide.
Pit Boss Pellet Grill Problems and Solutions
Because pellet grills use electricity to power the auger, they’re prone to more issues than charcoal- or gas-fired units. In this section, we’ll take a look at some of the most prevalent ones, from Pit Boss temperature problems to smoke discoloration.
It’s the bane of all pellet grilling enthusiasts: The dreaded “Er” symbol. Pit Boss models have two different error messages, each with their own cause and potential solutions.
This message indicates an issue with the heat and temperature control of the pellet grill. When you see it, it could mean one of two things: Either the grill is overheating, or the temperature probe wire isn’t properly connected.
Overheating may be caused by excess fuel, an issue that can be resolved by turning the grill off and clearing the pellets from the firebox. Make sure the grill has had a chance to cool down before you attempt to remove the pellets. While you’re at it, clean the rest of the interior and check to ensure that all the components are positioned correctly.
You might also get the ErH message because of a grease fire in the cooking chamber. Again, if this happens, switch the grill off immediately and wait for the flames to go out. You may need to douse them with baking soda or kosher salt if they don’t extinguish on their own.
Once you’ve determined that the overheating issue has been resolved, turn the dial to OFF to clear the error message and open the grill lid. Wait a few minutes before setting the dial to your desired temperature.
If the grill isn’t overheating, the ErH message might be the result of an improper connection between the probe wire and the temperature control system. In this case, you should check the wire for damage and make sure it’s firmly attached to the control panel.
This message has a simpler root cause: It means that the temperature dial was still switched on when the grill connected to AC power. It’s a basic safety feature that keeps the unit from starting by accident.
To get rid of the ErP symbol, turn the temperature dial to the OFF position. Wait two minutes, then set the dial to your desired temperature.
When the numbers on the LCD screen are flashing, that indicates that the ambient temperature inside the grill has dipped too low. If the grill is in “SMOKE” mode, this means the temperature has gone below 110 degrees Fahrenheit. For “COOK” mode, the numbers flash when the heat is below 150 degrees.
Fortunately, this isn’t a serious problem—it’s actually a feature that benefits the chef, alerting you to the fact that your fire might be going out. When it happens, look inside the hopper and replenish the pellet supply, if necessary. You should also check for any blockages.
Next, remove any ash buildup from the pot or burn grate. Check the fan and auger motor to make sure they’re both operating at the correct speed. If these are moving too slowly, the fire isn’t receiving the fuel it needs.
When you see flashing dots on the LCD screen, it means that the grill igniter is on. As Pit Boss pellet grill problems go, this is a good one to have—it simply indicates that the unit is working properly.
Blank LCD Screen
If the LCD screen just isn’t lighting up at all, there are several possibilities.
First of all, it could be because the pellet grill just isn’t plugged in. You’d be surprised at how often this happens—people are so gung-ho on getting their grill fired up that they forget to take this simple first step. Make sure the plug is properly secured to a working outlet before you do anything else.
If the grill is plugged in and the screen remains blank, it could indicate that the circuit board fuse has been tripped and needs to be replaced. Check your user’s manual for instructions—there should be a diagram that provides you with a visual aid.
A blank screen could also mean that the GFI (also known as the GFCI, or Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) has been tripped. The GFI outlet is designed to protect you against electrical shock when plugging in a device. In this case, you should check all your wire connections to make sure that they’re fully secure. The wires should also be completely dry.
To learn more about resetting the GFI outlet, see Grill Won’t Start, below.
Also, take a look at the minimum amperage for your GFI service. It needs to be at least 15 amps in order to power the Pit Boss pellet grill.
Lastly, check your extension cord. For pellet grills, you should never use a cord that measures more than 25 feet in length. If it’s longer, the grill could be receiving insufficient voltage. Long cords also pose a fire hazard, so switch yours out for a shorter model if you haven’t already done so.
Grill Won’t Start
This frustrating issue could be caused by any of the grill components. Again, make sure the unit is plugged in and that the outlet has power.
Next, unplug the grill and everything else on the GFI circuit. Plug the grill back in and see if the GFI trips again. If it does, then you should contact customer service to explain the problem.
If not, then another appliance on the circuit may have caused the GFI to trip. Keep plugging these in one by one to see if any of them trips the outlet. Remember that a GFI might also trip due to an anomaly in the electrical system itself, so your grill might not be at fault.
Should the GFI fail to reset, take a look at the circuit breakers. The system won’t reset without sufficient power. Take a look at this video tutorial for more detailed instructions.
Next, move the temperature dial to the OFF position, then switch it to the SMOKE function. The LCD screen should light up, indicating that all is well.
If that doesn’t work, remove the cooking grates and grease tray so you can take a good look at the igniter. If nothing happens when you turn the unit on, replace the 5 amp fuse on the back of the control panel. Should the igniter continue to fail, you’ll need to contact customer service for a replacement part.
While the grates and grease tray are out of the way, check the auger. If it’s not feeding pellets into the firebox, then this is the part that needs to be replaced.
Once all the other probable causes have been ruled out, it’s likely that the control panel is at fault. Contact Pit Boss and explain the situation so that they can issue you with a replacement.
Temperature Is Too High at SMOKE Level
When the grill is too hot during the SMOKE function, it means that the P level is set too low. Make sure the temperature dial is set to SMOKE, then push the P setting button to boost the level.
Grill Isn’t Heating to Set Temperature
Pit Boss temperature problems typically arise because the burn pot isn’t getting enough oxygen to achieve or maintain the desired temps. Check the burn pot, the air intake, and the fan to make sure there are no obstructions.
If the burn pot has holes or severe corrosion, it needs to be replaced. You should also ensure that the fan is in good working order. Be forewarned that you might have to remove the cooking grates and grease tray for this.
Alternatively, the pellets themselves could be causing the issue. Look inside the hopper and add more pellets, if necessary. Replace them if they’re damp to the touch or if they’ve visibly deteriorated in any way. You can also check the temperature probe and wipe it thoroughly with a damp clean cloth.
Finally, take a look at the P setting to ensure that it’s set to the level you want. The “P” stands for “pause,” so as you adjust the setting, you’re controlling the amount of pause time between cycles. When you increase the P setting, you’re decreasing the pellet supply, resulting in more smoke and a lower grill temperature. Conversely, decreasing the setting will give you less smoke and a hotter fire.
These can be caused by anything from ambient weather conditions (whether it’s too hot or too cold outside) to a dirty temperature probe.
Try to keep the grill out of direct sunlight, and avoid grilling when it’s windy or raining outside. If you enjoy grilling year-round, consider buying a grill blanket for additional insulation. Also, clean the probes, cooking grates, and dome thermometer on a regular basis.
Finally, we should note that occasional fluctuations are to be expected when you’re burning wood. Keep a close eye on the thermometer when they occur, as the temp might very well level off within a few minutes.
If the smoke has a yellow or greenish hue, or if the grill is producing a great deal of it, there’s probably too much greasy buildup inside the cooking chamber. You can head off the problem by thoroughly cleaning the cooking grates and the inside of the lid after each use, especially if you prepared greasy foods like burgers or chicken thighs.
It’s also a good idea to inspect the hopper and the burn pot for any obstructions. While you’re checking the hopper, be sure to discard any wet pellets and replace them with a fresh dry batch.
Flare-ups are both annoying and potentially dangerous, especially if they have a chance to escalate into a full-blown grease fire. To avoid them, keep the temperature at or below 350 degrees Fahrenheit when you’re cooking foods that contain a lot of grease.
Our Favorite Pit Boss Grill
- High temperature powder coated steel
- Cooking temperature range 180-500 F
- Digital control board with LED read-out
- Porcelain coated wire cooking grids
- Innovative flame broiler for direct flame cooking
Pit Boss Pellet Grill troubleshooting is fairly straightforward when you know what you’re doing. Should you run into a problem that wasn’t addressed here—or if the grill just isn’t responding to your efforts—feel free to contact the customer service department. They should be able to point you in the right direction, so you can get back to enjoying your grill.
Best of luck, and happy grilling!