Z Grill Not Firing Up

Diagnose why your Z Grills smoker is not firing up.

If your Z Grills smoker is turning on (controller is operating) but you are not getting a fire in the fire-pot, there could be several reasons.

Start by removing the grill racks, grease tray and heat baffle so you can see in the fire-pot. If the fire-pot has not recently been vacuumed out, please do that first, as a deep bed of ash can smother the fire.

With a clean fire-pot, fire up the grill in the normal way and check the following:

  • Pellets dropping into the fire-pot and/or auger rotating?
  • Air blowing into the fire-pot?
  • Any sign of smoke, or the ignition rod getting hot?

Now read through the sections below to determine the cause of the issue.

Auger Problem

Auger motor close up
Auger motor with small cooling fan on the front

If there are wood pellets in the fire-pot, that means the auger motor is working. You will also be able to see the auger intermittently slowly rotating.

If the auger is not rotating the auger motor could be dead, or the auger shaft could be jammed.

Dead Auger Motor

  • Burnt out auger motor is often accompanied by a burnt plastic smell and discolouration of the auger motor.
  • Click here for instructions on how to replace an auger motor.
  • If the installed controller is Wireless type, it should show ERROR 5 if the auger motor is not using power. If this error is not occurring, use the TEST GRILL > AUGER MOT function to manually run the auger for 60 seconds. Click here for more information.

Jammed Auger Shaft

  • Jammed auger shaft can occur if a wood pellet gets stuck down the side of the auger, or if the grill hasn’t been used in some time and moist pellets have set hard.
  • This can be diagnosed by moving the end of the auger shaft in the fire-pot or bottom of the hopper. It should be loose. If tight in place it is likely jammed.
  • Click this link for instructions to free a jammed auger shaft.

Fan Problem

Fan close-up
Fan motor supplying air to fire-pot

If you can hear the fan running and feel air blowing into the fire-pot, then the fan is working.

If the fan is not operating then wood pellets will pile up in the fire-pot and you might see some smoke, but a fire will not be established.

There are two possibilities with the fan not turning, either something is blocking it from turning, or the motor is burnt out.

Blocked Fan

  • Blocked fan can occur if anything is touching/blocking the fan blades such as one of the cables or a mouse, tree frog or insect (all of which we have seen).
  • If the grill has not be used for many months, the fan motor can sometimes become stuck. With the grill unplugged, flick the fan with a screwdriver or similar to rotate it, then see if operating normally.

Dead Fan Motor

  • Burnt out fan motor is often accompanied by a burnt plastic smell and discolouration of the fan motor.
  • Click here for instructions on how to replace the fan.

Ignition Rod Problem

If wood pellets are dropping into the fire-pot, air is blowing from the fan but there is no sign of smoke then the ignition rod must not be working.

If the installed controller is Wireless type, it should show ERROR 7 if the ignition rod is not using power. If this error is not occurring, use the TEST GRILL > I-ROD TEST function to manually run the ignition rod for 60 seconds. Click here for more information.

Click here for instructions to replace the ignition rod.

Pellet Issues

Moist Pellets

If wood pellets are dropping, fan blowing and the ignition rod is getting hot then another possibility is the wood pellets are too moist to burn well. The fire may even be established but soon go out. Always use dry pellets!

Wet wood pellets in bag
Moist wood pellets will not burn well

Click here to learn more about wood pellets.

Ashy Pellets

If the fire keeps going out after a few hours of operation and the pellets are NOT moist, then another possibility is they are producing too much ash which is smothering the fire. This will be immediately obvious when looking into the fire-pot as lots of ash will have accumulated.

Fire-pot full of ash
Fire-pot with so much ash that the fire will be smothered

To learn more about wood pellets and ash issues, click here.

Get Replacement Parts

If you have identified the Auger Motor, Fire-pot Fan or Ignition Rod to be faulty and the grill is less than 3 years old then it is covered under warranty and you will be send a free replacement part. Click here to submit a product support request. Please explain in the comments section the diagnosis you have completed.

If your grill is out of warranty, you can purchase a replacement part from our shop here.