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Runaway kamado even with pit controller


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I did a pork butt yesterday and I had a horrible time keeping temperatures in check.  First things first, it turned out great.  Mission accomplished.  But frankly, the phrase "in check" is a stretch.  I did what I had to to avoid disaster...

 

I have a Kamado Joe Classic II with a Digiq DX2/Pit Viper fan that I use frequently for low and slow with good results- hours of very stable temps.  I am in Michigan and yesterday was a 8 inch snowstorm before, during, and after my cook.  Lighting was no problem.  The grill heated up normally.  I hooked up my pit controller and set the temp for 250 after letting the coal go for a few minutes until the lighter cubes were done.  The dome vent was left mostly open, 2.5-3 on the slider.  The grill seemed to be at the right temp when the pit controller probe said 250.  Meat went on.  The dome thermo was barely above 190, yet the pit probe said 250- not the first time I've had a decent spread between them.

 

I checked again an hour later.  The pit controller now said 330, but the dome thermo was still barely over 200.  I thought my pit probe was shot and grabbed my maverick, which confirmed 330 or so.  I choked the top vent to maybe .5 or less, maybe .25 on the slider.  When the pit fan kicked on, it was choked down enough that it was blowing smoke back out of the lower vent around the sides of the adapter plate.  It took close to another hour to get temps back under control.  Then the weird stuff happened.  Now the pit probe was reading 160 and the maverick was at 290.  These probes were maybe 3 inches apart, in the center of the same deflector an inch from the roast.  I moved the probes around again and now the maverick was reading funny stuff like 180 while the pit probe was reading 290.  The dome thermo was still at 200-225.  I temped the meat at 2 hours in and a 6 pound roast was already at 150, so I think 330 was the correct temp when they were reading 330.

 

After a couple hours of smoke, I ended up wrapping it and finishing it in the oven.

 

Long story to get to the questions...

 

What is your normal top vent setting for a pit controller?  I tend to have trouble getting up to temp if it is closed as much as I had to.  I think I had the opposite problem yesterday.  I think leaving the vent open as much as I did allowed the kamado to draft more and get out of control, even with the pit controller in place.  It wasn't overly windy yesterday.

 

Are one or both of my digital thermometers going?  Is my Digiq losing it/overstoking the fire?  Should I try adjusting the damper on the fan?  I've never had a problem like this before.

 

Just random nonsense that happens occasionally?

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I agree with the top vent being open to much I use about 3/4 to 1 inch on my heater meter. With the top vent open that much and the grill temp climbing like that you might have an air leak around the bottom vent or the connection for the fan. On my heater meter with the fan off and the damper closed my classic will go out. With your controller set at 250 at 300 the fan should be off and the damper fully closed.

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Wow, I feel like all y’all keep your top vent open too much. I use a flame boss on my big joe 2 with “kontrol top?” Vent and I keep it open barely enough for MAYBE 2 toothpicks, more like 1 toothpick to be able to fit in the opening when on a 225°F smoke. I mean it should barely be open at all when using a fan based temp control unit on a Kamado. I’ve NEVER had any issues with unstable temps. (And I I learned that from this forum so many years ago) 

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Sounds like you got too much oxygen with your top vent being too open and had too many coals lit.  Once that happens its hard to get under control again.  I had that happen on my Akorn and I did everything I could to get it back under control.  After wasting almost an hour burping, closing vents, and adding water to the pan, I just shut it down and let the coals go out, then I burped it and relit.  My dome gauge never gets over 200 for a 225 cook.

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