Z Grills Smoker Safety

Z Grills smokers are a very safe cooking appliance if cleaned regularly and used properly, in fact most operating and safety issues occur due to lack of regular cleaning.

Grease fires

A grease fire can occur in a pellet smoker if there is an accumulation of grease that makes contact with the fire.

A grease fire in a Z Grills smoker will not only burn any food you are cooking but can burn the high temperature paint inside and outside the grill.

Grease fire prevention

  • Regularly wipe out any areas that accumulate grease in the grill such as:
    • Grease tray
    • V shaped drain and spout leading to the grease bucket
    • Ledges around the edge of the grill racks
    • Down in the bottom of the drum neat the fire-pot
  • Only place food above the grease tray area, preventing grease dripping down below into the lower drum area.
  • If using a BBQ hotplate take care not to use to much oil, or allow grease to spill over the sides. Use paper towel in tongues to mop up excessive grease and clean off after use.

Grease fire management

If a grease fire occurs:

  • Turn the grill to shut down and power OFF (this will prevent air flow feeding the fire)
  • Shut the grill lid and wait for the fire to completely go out
  • Do not apply water or try to smother the fire
  • If the lid is already open, an ABE type dry chemical fire extinguisher may be used, but do not open the lid to put the fire out as a large flames may be released.

Grease fire damage to grill

A grease fire may cause the paint on the grill drum to be burnt off as shown in the image below.

Grease fire damage to Z Grills smoker

To repair the grill, rub down the entire drum surface with sandpaper and paint with a heat resistant paint such as Pot Belly Black paint (available in Australia).

Pot belly black paint

Flame out (huge smoke)

A commonly seen issues across many pellet smoker brands and models is a huge cloud of smoke due to an excessive quantity of wood pellets in the fire-pot, as shown in the photo below.

Overflowing fire-pot

This can happen for a number of reasons.

  • Too much ash in the fire-pot which smothers the fire, caused by:
    • Not vacuuming out frequently enough
    • Problematic high ash pellets
  • Moist pellets

Click here for more information about this issue.

Carbon monoxide poisoning

Z Grills smokers burn wood, so generate smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) and as such they must not be operated in an enclosed area (without suitable forced air ventilation).

Carbon monoxide is an odourless gas created as a byproduct of the combustion process and can cause symptoms such as headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion and long term health damage.

An indoor area is normally defined as one with no less than 55% walled area permanently open to the environment.

A verandah (open on 3 sides) will normally meet the requirements for air flow. However, if the ceiling is very deep, it may accumulate smoke and so forced fan ventilation may be required.

Check your local regulations if planning to use in an area with any enclosed walls as additional fan forced ventilation may be required.

Operating in the rain

Z Grills use electricity and are not designed (not IP rated) for outdoor use in the rain. Do not use the grill outdoors if expecting rain.

Weather can be unpredictable, so if the power cable protected from water and during a cook there is a light shower the grill will normally be fine and will continue to run.

It is important to ensure that no water gets into the hopper, so if the grill is exposed to rain, double to check that no water has entered the hopper (through the lid). Even some dribbles of water down inside the hopper can cause issues as they will wet the wood dust.

Even with wet pellets, the grill may continue to operate, but once left for a few days the wetted wood dust will dry and jam up the auger shaft.

Click here to learn more about wood pellets.

Safe distance

Never use or store flammable liquids near the grill, or use flammable liquids to light the grill.

Ensure the grill has a MINIMUM of 1m overhead clearance and 0.3m side/rear clearance from any wall or combustible material.

Hot surfaces

Z Grills smokers will be hot during operation and for some time after turning off.

Take care to avoid burns.

Use heat resistant gloves.

Never move the grill while operating.

Total fire ban days

Z Grills are classified as solid fuel grills and generally can’t be used on total fire ban days.

Click here for more information.

Owner manuals

For more information about how to safety use each Z Grills smoker model, click here to find and download the latest owner manual.