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February 9th, 2015, 1:29 am
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  • Joined: April 18th, 2014, 3:12 pm
  • Posts: 2409

One of the questions that we are asked the most: "Is it necessary to clean the ash from the burn grate before each cooking session?"

The simple answer is yes. It only takes a few minutes to do, and if there is an aversion to removing the heat diffuser plate, just lift it up enough to get your vacuum hose into the cooker and vacuum out the burn grate. The YS1500 is even simpler, just open the heat damper and use your vacuum to clean the ash from the burn grate.

The full answer is that you should always remove the heat diffuser plate, clean out all ash from the burn grate and firebox, inspect the silicone seals around the firebox, verify that the burn grate fits correctly into the firebox and inspect the interior of the cooker to make sure that all is in order.

We also field lot of questions on temperature variations, side to side heat differences, and grate temps that are different than what is displayed on the controller, and the cooker failing to ignite after pushing the START button. I took some pictures of my cooker after a 16 hour cook to illustrate why cleaning the ash from the burn grate before each cooking session is the best practice to follow.

Here is a picture of my burn grate cleaned and ready to start a cooking session:


Here is a picture of my burn grate after a 16 hour cook (the pellets I use are BBQr's Delight, 50/50 mix of pecan and cherry) Take note that the igniter is almost totally covered in the remaining ash...if I don't clean it out, will it ignite the next time? When attempting to ignite the cooker with the igniter covered in ash, the igniter can overheat and shorten it's life or cause it to fail:


Compare the 2 pictures, and notice the number of holes in the burn grate that are covered (plugged) by the ash, and the ash covering the igniter.

Here is a picture of some of the ash that I removed from the burn grate:


As you can see, the ash is firm, but is easily turned into powder with just a touch. With this in the burn grate, a large number of holes are plugged, and the igniter partially covered. Without cleaning this ash from the burn grate, the cooker may not ignite after pushing the START button, and if it does ignite, the cooker's performance will be inhibited because of the number of holes that the old ash is blocking.

This will also restrict proper heat production and distribution through out the cooker. You can plainly see that this old ash would be a large contributing factor to large heat swings, poor heat distribution and lower grate temperatures as compared to what is displayed on the controller, which will be more adversely affected by the addition of new ash during the current cooking session.

In addition, I periodically will clean the surface of the burn grate of all burned carbon and other debris. I use a metal putty knife to chip and scrape off all of the built up carbon residue, and then use a wire brush to scour the entire surface of the burn grate to remove all other debris. Cleaning the burn grate this way allows the pellets to flow properly into the bottom of the burn grate, and maximize air flow by opening up the holes in the burn grate.

February 16th, 2015, 1:51 pm
* Abilene ** Abilene *
  • Joined: September 2nd, 2014, 11:25 am
  • Posts: 14

the picture of the two chunks, I had a similar experience, Yoder 640 would not ignite, that was the reason, a large chunk of ash! I try to clean Yoder out once a month, but in a hurry, and didn't do so this time, that's what happens!!

June 2nd, 2015, 10:18 pm
* Cheyenne ** Cheyenne *
  • Joined: May 18th, 2015, 9:25 pm
  • Posts: 62

I use my shop vac every couple of cooks. It's just the right thing to do and really keeps this tank running when you want it. When I (we) cook we aren't doing it for fun. Chances are we have people coming over in a few short hours. I don't want something dumb as some ash from the last cook holding me up. Normally, I wait for a rainy day when I wish I could be cooking meat and then realize what an opportune time to clean! Folks in the desert country might not be able to use that method! Right now it's raining here about every couple of days. So, my Yoders look brand spanking new! I even ordered and received some spray paint to touch up those rusty areas.

September 12th, 2015, 9:14 am
* Abilene ** Abilene *
  • Joined: August 10th, 2015, 3:08 pm
  • Posts: 8

I wonder if Yoder will ever create an quick access door to clean the ash tray? :P

June 18th, 2016, 4:18 pm
* Abilene ** Abilene *
  • Joined: June 16th, 2016, 9:05 am
  • Posts: 13

I haven't tried it but SnowJoe/SunJoe sells a shop vacuum specifically for ash.

July 11th, 2016, 7:07 pm
* Cheyenne ** Cheyenne *
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  • Joined: October 12th, 2015, 4:34 pm
  • Posts: 78

I use the "Bucket Head" from Home Depot. I think it was suggested on this forum as it can help get unused pellets back into the storage bucket.

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