A Pitmasters Guide to Maintaining Your Wood Fired Smoker

A Pitmasters Guide to Maintaining Your Wood Fired Smoker

Wood fired smokers have become common since they add a unique flavor to dishes. If you want to add a wood-burning electric smoker to your commercial kitchen, it is important to learn how to maintain it. This blog will guide you through nine smoker maintenance tips you need to know to increase the longevity of your unit.

9 Smoker Maintenance Tips

Smoking requires more attention and maintenance than your average grilling session. Learn how to maintain your wood fired smoker and ensure your next session is a success!

9 smoker maintenance tips infographic

1. Cleaning Smoker After Use

The easiest way to maintain your smoker is to clean it after use. Remove any built-up residue and check your water tray or wood chip tray level. If you notice that your water tray or wood chip tray is halfway empty, refill them while the smoker is still open. Cleaning the smoker after use minimizes the smell produced inside the smoker. Many solid fuel electric smokers come with removable cooking racks and trays for the wood chips and water. You can easily wash those items in the sink and return them to the smoker for continued use.

2. Burner Inspection

Wondering how to keep your smoker from rusting? If you notice that the outside looks less than pristine, restoring the outside is the next step. Many wood fired smokers come with a coating for the outside burner that helps to protect it from rust and other damage. 

If your smoker comes with this coating, you can apply a new layer as needed to keep your smoker looking good on the outside. It’ll help the new coating to adhere to the smoker’s exterior and keep the rust away.

Many coatings come in a spray can that you can apply to the outside of your smoker. Depending on how often you use the smoker, you may need to apply several coatings over the years. However, you must clean the exterior before applying any new coating.

3. Deep Cleaning the Smoker

One question we get from our customers is, “how often should I clean my wood-burning electric smoker?” Do it monthly! Always do a deep clean inside of the smoker. This process is a little more involved than the cleaning you do each time you use your smoker. However, it will get your smoker back to its cleanest. To do a deep cleaning of your smoker, start by unplugging the smoker and allow the unit to cool down. 

If you have a system to control the water or wood chips in the smoker, ensure it is turned off. The best way to clean a wood fired electric smoker is by using a BBQ cleaner. Take everything out and wash it thoroughly. Don’t forget to line the bottom of your smoker with a large garbage bag to catch any water that might drip out. Remember to clean your smoker every month.

4. Reset the Smoker Chamber

At some point, your smoker may become too smokey. Perhaps you are cooking more food than expected, and the number of wood chips in the smoker is not enough to feed the fire. Maybe the smoker has run out of fuel. Whatever the cause, reset the smoke chamber by:

  • Removing the water or wood chip tray, then closing the smoker lid. 
  • Opening the smoker door and turn the temperature knob to the right. 

Once you have reset the smoke chamber, you can begin using more wood chips or adding fuel to the fire to get it running again.

5. Check the Temperature Control

As you clean your smoker each month, always check the temperature control. Test the knob or try moving it to ensure it still works. If anything is out of place, adjust it while the smoker is closed.

Thermostat calibration device

You can also test the temperature control while the door is open to check the tray’s wood chips or water level. Open the tray while the smoker is closed and see if the water evaporates at an average rate. Add more water if you notice that the water level has dropped significantly.

6. Inspect the Venting System

Check the venting system to ensure that nothing is clogging up the system. Use a vacuum cleaner to remove items inside the venting system and a soft brush to clear any caked-on bits of food. You can also use a small amount of soap or a cleaner designed to clean vents.

7. Relocate Your Smoker

Rotate your smoker once a year to prevent it from wearing out in one spot. Turn your smoker 90 degrees each month to ensure that it wears evenly. Position your smoker next to a wall, kitchen corner, or outside patio, so it doesn’t take up as much space. It will also help prevent wear in your smoker’s specific area.

8. Calibration of the Thermostat

Constantly adjust the temperature of your smoker. For example, turn the temperature up in the summer, so your food cooks faster. During the winter, keep the temperature down so the smoker can hold more heat inside. Always clean the outside of your smoker monthly.

9. Dry Run

Finally, perform a dry run once a month on your smoker. A dry run will ensure that all the temperature controls and vents are working correctly. It’s also an excellent time to ensure you have enough wood chips for cooking and smoking food. To do a dry run:

  1. Ensure you have a few pieces of wood chips in the smoker.
  2. Turn the temperature control to the highest setting. You can also open the vents and let the smoker run until it turns off automatically.
  3. Once you have finished, check the smoker to ensure everything is working as it should be.

Safety Tips for Smoker Maintenance

  • Always unplug the unit and disconnect the power source when cleaning your smoker. 
  • Place the smoker out of reach of small children and pets. 
  • Don’t leave your smoker unattended when plugged in. 
  • Keep your wood chips dry.
  • Put the smoker away from extremely cold or hot areas in your home. 
  • Never put any object other than the provided water and wood chip trays inside your smoker.

Need BBQ Equipment for Your Restaurant?

The smoker you’re using plays a significant role in maintenance. Whether you’re looking for that perfect brisket or want to add some smoke to your next barbecue, the wood fired electric smoker by J&R Manufacturing is the way to go! And if you need other BBQ kitchen equipment, make us your number one plug. Feel free to contact us in case of inquiries. We’re always ready to help!

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