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Why Won’t My Charcoal Grill Get Hot?

Why Won’t My Charcoal Grill Get Hot?

Grilling your food over some hot charcoal is a great way to cook, producing a distinctive, smoky flavor.

But it isn’t always the easiest way to cook.

Unlike gas grills, which you can just switch on and light, charcoal grills require a set of conditions that are just right in order to get hot and stay hot.

If you’re having trouble getting your charcoal grill to build up enough heat, you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, we’ll be running through some of the most common reasons charcoal grills won’t get adequately hot.

Hopefully, armed with this knowledge, you’ll be able to rectify the situation in no time.

Let’s get started!

Is The Grill Clean?

No, we’re not concerned about your hygiene standards!

You might be surprised to learn that keeping your grill clean is essential to ensuring its continued proper function. It’s quite simple, really.

When cooking with charcoal you are more or less cooking over an open fire, and that means you need to ensure your fire has access to enough oxygen to burn properly.

If you don’t clean your grill regularly, it will become full of ash, and this ash will block the flow of the oxygen necessary for the flame to burn properly.

As a result, you’ll have trouble getting your coals hot enough to cook your food, or if the problem is really bad, you’ll have trouble getting your coals to stay lit at all.

So, it’s essential to regularly clean your grill to avoid problems with getting your grill hot enough.

On top of this, it’s also important to clean your grill to improve its lifespan.

Ash is surprisingly good at trapping moisture, which means that if you leave your grill exposed to the elements, ash can speed up corrosion and rusting.

So, clean your grill so it works at its best, for as long as it should!

Are The Dampers Open?

Why Won’t My Charcoal Grill Get Hot?

Ash build-up can stop your flame getting the oxygen it needs, but a little human error can cause the same issue!

Charcoal frills generally come with vents known as ‘dampers’ on both the bowl and the lid to ensure a good airflow to the flame.

Have you, perhaps, simply forgotten to open them all fully?

The dampers should always be fully open when preheating your grill to allow as much oxygen to be fed to the coals as possible.

With the dampers open, your grill should warm up in no time.

The Charcoal

Unsurprisingly, the charcoal itself more often than not has something to do with why your grill isn’t getting hot, especially if your grill is clean.

Of course, the most important thing is ensuring you are using high-quality branded charcoal, as when it comes to charcoal you really do get what you pay for.

It might be more expensive, but the better quality stuff produces consistent results for a great all-round grilling session, whilst the bargain brands often have a much harder time warming up and retaining a consistent level of heat.

There are also plenty of other factors to consider when it comes to your charcoal.

For example, what type of charcoal are you using?

Lump charcoal, for instance, can burn out quite fast- so fast in fact that it might have begun losing some of its heat in the time you were allowing the grill to warm up, leaving you to conclude that the grill didn’t warm up at all.

Charcoal briquettes, on the other hand, burn more evenly and provide a better overall grilling experience.

Another important question to ask yourself is how you are storing your charcoal.

In fact, even storing your charcoal at all could be the problem, as using fresh charcoal always produces the best results.

Old charcoal that has been stored for a few years loses some of its potency, and you might find that you have trouble getting, and keeping, it lit.

There’s also the possibility that moisture has gotten into the charcoal, which will naturally inhibit its ability to burn properly.

To avoid this frustration, make sure you are storing your charcoal somewhere cool and dry, and try not to store it for too long before using it.

In that same vein, trying to reuse half burnt charcoal can often result in problems getting the grill hot enough, too.

Other Possible Causes

The above are the most likely reasons that your grill won’t get hot, but there are plenty more possibilities, too. Here are some of them:

  • Altitude- If you live at altitude, say 5,000 feet above sea level or more, it’s possible that the problem isn’t anything to do with you but the altitude itself. At such heights, the oxygen level in the air is lower, naturally making it harder for your grill to get access to enough oxygen for it to burn properly.
  • Poor Quality Grill- Maybe it’s just time to get a new grill? If your grill is damaged or was of inferior quality in the first place, you might just need a new grill altogether. Naturally, a low-quality grill won’t grill as well as a top-end product.
  • Lighting the Coals Incorrectly- The safest and most efficient way to light your grill is a purpose-designed fire starter. As the name suggests, they pretty much do the job for you- light it and pop it amongst your coals, then sit back and relax. It’s best to steer clear of lighter fluid and the likes, as not only can this be dangerous, it might well ruin the taste of your food. Here’s a top tip- let the charcoal ash over a little before grilling for the best grilling experience.

Final Thoughts

These are just a few of the most common reasons that you may be having trouble getting your charcoal grill to warm up.

Though environmental factors like altitude can play a part, your problem is most likely either with the charcoal you are using, or the grill itself.

If you’re interested in a new charcoal grill, we have plenty of reviews for some great products you can check out on this site!

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