Pit Boss Pellet Grill Troubleshooting: What To Look For

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.

wood and pellets

Error Messages

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.

Flashing 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.

Flashing Dots

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.

pellets in hand

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.

Temperature Fluctuations

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.

Smoke Signals

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.

grilled tequila lime chicken

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.

Final Thoughts

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!

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47 thoughts on “Pit Boss Pellet Grill Troubleshooting: What To Look For”

  1. Our Pit Boss pellet grill isn’t working. The auger isn’t turning. The grill sounds like it comes on when I turn it on but nothing is happening. I am no mechanic. Can you tell me some simple things to try or where I should take it for repair? It was purchased from Academy Store in 2018.

    1. Hello I’m Bruce I was cooking last night as I was taking meat off LARGE amounts of smoke coming out of pellet hopper. I pulled the plug. Help please any ideas. Going to clean tomorrow and hope for the best.

    2. Two year old classic model is running 100 to 150 degrees hotter than set temperature. Inside is totally clean and P setting at default setting 4. I’ve cleaned gauge probes per troubleshooting list.

  2. I have had my smoker about 6 months. last week it stopped mid smoking, I have replaced the fuse, but it still doesn’t do anything. I have checked the plug in and it works , when I plug in the smoker its like its not getting power, nothing lights up.

    Any ideas?

    1. I have had my pit boss 820 for a little under a year now and I used it for Easter Sunday and the smoke was coming though the auger and out the storage box and now I have taken it apart and cleaned out the auger and now it will not heat up the burn pot changed out the pellets changed the extension cord checked the breaker all works just won’t heat up the pot

  3. Very good info. One month ago I had a problem with a malfunction where excessive smoke began billowing at the very start, actually blew the door open. I cleaned the entire pit again, including the pot. Restarted and that seemed to work. Today tried again and the exact same problem. Cleaned everything including the pot and the problem continues.

    1. If you are starting your pellet grill with the lid closed you can expect and explosion. The smoke itself is combustible in this situation. You should always start your pellet grill with the lid open. When the fire pot actually lights you will hear it and the smoke will start to diminish.

  4. pit boss pellet smoker copperhead
    with new c panel doesn’t ignite.
    it did this prior to new c panel. Thought the c panel would fix this and the no display.
    What should I check

  5. I’ve had my Austin xl for close to 3 years now. Love using it. I’ve have a problem that has been happening for the last 6 months. It smokes great, holds temp pretty good, but occasionally it won’t relight the pellets sometimes. It will run great for hours then I notice temp drops. Check things out and the burn pot is full of pellets. So it’s not relighting. I have just replaced main board, igniter and temp sensor probe and it still happens. What’s my problem?

    1. I’ve have a Deluxe xl. Love using it. I’ve have a problem that has been happening for the last 6 months. It smokes great, holds temp pretty good, but occasionally it won’t relight the pellets sometimes. It will run great for hours then I notice temp drops. Check things out and the burn pot is full of pellets. So it’s not relighting. What’s my problem?

    2. Don James Graham

      I had the same problem. It was a broken gear in the auger motor. It had broken teeth and would randomly catch and stop.

  6. Just purchased my pit boss grill can’t get it to start up ,auger works fine lots of pellets in combustion chamber ,ignighter starts pellets smoking but fan doesn’t come on and it goes out. I unplugged fan and tested it it runs fine
    What is the problem???

  7. I bought the Table Top model PB150PPG. 4 out of the 5 times I used it, it burned the pellets in the auger tube. Heavy smoke was coming out of the pellet box. What is causing it to burn in the auger tube?

    1. You have pellet dust in your auger tube, Frome one end to the other, and it stays at the bottom of the tube and acts just like a wick. Pull the auger and blow out the dust from hopper and auger tube w air compressor, reassemble, Bob’s your uncle. Going fwd, try not to dump the dust in the pellet back into the hopper. Some go to the extreme of sifting theirs but this is “blow out” service procedure is one that should be done every couple bags, even if you are careful about not dumping dust into hopper. Reason is, the pellets break and crumble in the auger while traveling to fire box, leaving more dust.

      1. I bought the the same Table Top model PB150PPG yesterday and right out of the box on the first burn off when I shut it down it back burned into the auger tube a little bit. Could it get that much dust in the auger from its first run of 30 minutes? I never have that issue with my FB700 love that grill. I will empty the pellets and blow it out and try sifting the pellets for this grill and see if that helps

  8. My Ranger xl is 2 years old, the control panel is not working , I am really disappointed with this smoker for what I payed . I will not buy another pit bill smoker.

  9. It seems my Copper Top Pit Boss Grill starts to smokes out of the hopper midway through a cooking session. When it gets turned off it really starts to smoke out of the hopper the fan is still running like it should , and the auger works just fine what causes this?

  10. My Pit Boss 700fb paint bubbles on second use!

    Opened a claim with Pit Boss took almost two weeks to get back to me and told me I should buy some of there touch up paint.

  11. i have a pitboss pro series pb820ps1 that keeps breaking….it will not turn on….they keep sending control boards to fix the problem……i have went through 3 of these boards from june of 2020 until now…waiting on board three….has any one else had this issue ?….i like the pellet smoker and grill but this is turning into a major problem……..what to do what to do.

  12. Don James Graham

    I could use some help. I have an Austin XL. I replaced the auger motor but did not work. I decided to buy another one and that did not work either. The control panel powers up, the blower and igniter work. I’m curious if a “Bad” control panel could be partially functional? I’m hoping to not throw parts at it without knowing the cause. The auger tube is clear. Thanks in advance. Hoping to get it going as a last ditch effort before I run out and buy a new one.

  13. I had a grease fire and cleaned everything after it cooled. Then restarted and everything worked fine (changed temperature just fine). then when I turned it off it kept on going. All the lights where off but fire kept going.

  14. James Cornelius

    On my pitboss Lockhart my lower grill is set to 350 degrees and my upper cabinet is over 600 degrees but my lower grill temp never gets over 300 degrees actual.

  15. My grill shoots up to 500 plus degrees no matter what temperature it is set at. This is a safety hazard and no matter what I do I can’t get it to stop. This morning, I tried again and there was smoke coming out of the pellet hopper the grill was so hot.

  16. Mt Pit Boss auger does not work. All other functions work, just not the auger. I cleaned the unit, looks brand new. Started up well, lots of smoke. It got up to 125 degrees and then the auger quit. No smoke, temp dropped, the fan continues to work. Please assist.

    1. I have the same issue. I’m wondering if you ever got an answer?

      My grill will start perfect until the fire starts and then the auger stops feeding pellets

  17. Our grill was purchased Wednesday, 6/16/21 at Lowe’s as a Father’s Day gift from our kids. Saturday, 6/19/21, is our first time to plugin the grill. We followed the step-by-step instructions in the User Manual to start it.
    The LCD screen remained blank throughout the Hopper Priming Procedure, the First Use-Grill Burn Off and now we are attempting to cook. The LCD screen is still blank.
    We have checked your troubleshooting points… 1. the unit is plugged in… 2. the GFC is not tripped… 3. no extension cord is being used. We see the other option is 4. the circuit board fuse needs to be replaced.
    Please help… this PB0820D3 wood pellet grill & smoker is brand new!
    What do we do from here?

  18. Charleston Pellet Gas Combo Grill | Pit Boss Grills

    We smoked a salmon last night but could not get the smoke over to the grill side. Opened middle vent from smoker side to grill side! Any tips?

  19. when i was using my vertical pro series 4 i noticed that after it was reaching close to 200 that the smoke turned from the white/blue that i had been use to, to a more black smoke. while researching i discovered that black meant not enough oxygen so i opened up the chimney a little more, then all smoke more less stopped and when i opened the door that black smoke rolled out of it. it would shut off so i unplugged it thinking i don’t want to keep feeding the fire i could see through the crack where the ash pot goes. i cooled and then cleaned the unit inside and out, removing the pellets and straining them thinking that the bottom of the bag may have had too much dust instead of pellets. so i tried again this morning and again there seems to be too much flame and not the smoke pit smell of smoke but more like a trash fire smoke. can you help? i am about half scared to use it.

  20. I have a 440d2 and have a problem getting the burner plate out of the grill to clean it. Are there any trick to removing it?

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