Traeger Grill Problems, Error Codes and Troubleshooting

Let me guess: you did all your research (probably here), went out and bought a Traeger pellet grill, and you’ve been loving it. Then, one day recently, a weird message popped up on the digital display that seemed to have nothing to do with the meat under the lid?

Welcome to the world of error codes.

Or, maybe there’s no error code, but your Traeger is acting up. Are you experiencing temperature swings? Has your fire gone out (in your grill, not your soul)?

Of course, we sincerely hope you never, ever suffer through any hiccups with your Traeger, but it happens to the best of us. Never fear! We’ve got this.

A pellet grill with the lid open, showing various meats being smoked

In this article, we’ll review all the possible problems an error code on your Traeger pellet grill may indicate.

We’ll explain what’s happening, how to troubleshoot the issue, and, hopefully, how to avoid the same issue in the future.

Plus, we’ll look at some common problems Traeger grills sometimes experience and tell you how to solve them.

Traeger Error Codes

While it’s great that your Traeger is self-aware enough to let you know there’s something wrong with it, it’s still not always obvious what the problem is.

As C3P0 once said, “I don’t know where your ship learned to communicate, but it has the most peculiar dialect.”

Allow us to translate:

HEr

Nope, your grill isn’t female. This one stands for “High Temperature Error.”

You’ll see this appear on your Traeger’s display if the temperature inside exceeds 550F for more than 45 seconds. If this happens, your grill will shut off the auger and the fan to start the cool-down process. Once the temperature falls below 450F, the auger will run for 2 minutes to clear any embers from the auger tube.

Power off the grill and let it rest and then clear any pellets from the fire pot. You’ll need to start the grill up yourself once you’re ready to fire it up again. This code is bad news and could signal the demise of your meat unless you act quickly to control the heat or remove the meat from the grill.

Root causes of this kind of temperature surge include low-grade pellets that don’t burn evenly, a build-up of grease, ash, or sawdust that’s burning, or simply a faulty temperature probe giving an incorrect reading.

The worst-case scenario is your temperature controller is malfunctioning. If you’ve eliminated the other possibilities and you’re still getting this code, it may be time to contact the manufacturer for some help.

LEr

This code indicates a “Low Temperature Error”, the exact opposite problem of HEr. If this code turns up, that’s because the temperature in the grill has dropped below 125F for more than 10 minutes. That’s a heck of a long time, but, relative to a multi-hour smoke, it’s not that big a deal. (You’re unlikely to see this error unless you’re trying to cook low and slow.)

The grill will shut itself down, and then it’s up to you to restart. Clear the pellets from the fire pot and then begin the start-up sequence.

There are several possible reasons you might get an LEr code:

  • The simplest explanation is that you’ve run out of pellets, so there’s nothing to burn.
  • It may be that the outside temperature is so cold your Traeger can’t get up to temperature.
  • There may be debris that’s plugging your fire pot and preventing ventilation (you need oxygen for a fire).
  • Maybe you’ve got a bad batch of pellets that’s full of sawdust.
  • It could be a faulty probe
  • The temperature controller could be on the blink.

If it’s cold outside, try moving your grill somewhere that’s sheltered from the wind, or that’s in full sunshine to try and compensate.

If you use your Traeger in the winter a lot, consider buying an insulation blanket; Traeger has them for many of their more popular models. You might even try pointing a space heater at it. Just don’t bring it indoors, unless suffocating on carbon monoxide sounds like a good time.

The final issue to check is your “p” setting. “P” stands for pause, and it’s the length of time between pellet dumps into the fire pot from the auger. If you have a Traeger that’s a few years old, you can manually adjust this setting to one of three levels. Newer Traegers do not have this feature.

ERR

This is an easy one to diagnose, though it means you’re going to have to replace something. If this code pops up, it means your RTD probe needs replacing. Great – what’s that?

RTD stands for “Resistance Temperature Detector,” and it’s just a fancy way of referring to the sensor probe that measures the ambient temperature inside the grill.

Check the connection first to see if it’s just loose, but be prepared to order a new one.

ER1

Another code involving your temperature probe, this is a simple one. All that’s happened is you’ve got a loose connection. Try pushing the plug in or pulling it out entirely and plugging it back in again.

If that doesn’t do it, something may need tightening, or there’s a defective or broken part inside. Call Traeger and see if they can troubleshoot the problem with you.

ER2

Well, this code sucks. If you see this nasty code, it means something is short-circuiting inside the controller. It could be to do with the RTD probe, or it may be an internal connection. Either way, you’ll want to call for assistance.

There are how-to videos on YouTube showing you how to correct this error, but they all involve taking the controller apart and pulling out the circuit board. You’d want to be pretty confident in your electrical skills before you go this route!

Other Common Issues With Traeger Grills

Not all Traeger problems are accompanied by an error code. Here are a few non-display issues you might come up against and our best advice for getting past them.

Unusual Temperature Swings

It is totally normal for the temperature inside your Traeger pellet grill to vary by as much as 15-20F above or below the target you’ve set. That’s all part of the regular cycling on and off of the auger and the rod. When it cools down inside, more pellets feed in and ignite. When it’s too warm, they stop for a bit.

It’s important to remember that a temperature you set, is the target temperature that the grill aims for as an average over the entire time of cook! So 15f to 20f temperature swings are, according to the way it’s designed, perfectly natural.

Any dramatic swings outside that range, however, may indicate a problem somewhere. But what?

First of all, give some thought as to whether this might actually be perfectly normal. Remember, the 15-20F variance is an average across the entire cook under ideal conditions. If it’s really cold or really hot outside, your Traeger has to work hard to compensate. In such cases, you might find temperature swings outside that range that are not the fault of the grill itself. Do what you can to protect your grill from the elements to minimize the effects of the weather.

If you’re sure it’s not the weather, a good first place to look is your fire pot. The fire pot was designed for a series of holes for optimal airflow. If new holes appear thanks to our old nemesis corrosion, you’ll get too much air and higher temperatures as a result.

Speaking of corrosion, check the drip pan and the heat diffuser for damage. If there are less of these items than there should be, that could also lead to excess heat inside your Traeger.

Your pellets are possible suspects, too. Low-grade pellets may produce a lot of ash. Not only can ash mess with the ventilation holes but also, if there’s enough of it floating around, it can lead to false readings from the probe.

Try to use only quality pellets, such as those from our guide to the best pellets for pellet grills.

No Pellets in the Fire Pot

The automatic, rotating auger is supposed to pull pellets from the hopper to the fire pot when the controller says they’re needed. It’s an amazing system – unless it’s not working.

The problem could be a purely mechanical one. From time to time, pellets may jam and prevent the auger from turning. To fix this problem, just clear out the auger tunnel. This will require you to disassemble the hopper and the auger, but it’s not really that hard, and you’ll need just a few basic tools.

Don’t worry, though; this isn’t modding or DIY stuff. In fact, here’s an official Traeger video showing you how it’s done:

 

The other possibility here is the motor is defective or damaged in some way. If there’s no obvious jam, you may need a new motor. Contact Traeger for assistance if you can’t get things working.

Fire Goes Out in the Middle of a Cook

There are several possible reasons for a fire to go out in a Traeger. Once again, we have to check the fire pot to see if the air holes are blocked. Fire needs oxygen to burn, and without those holes, there’s no oxygen. This is another time where the pellets may be the problem. Our recommendation: buy good pellets right out of the gate!

A faulty connection with the probe or a bad reading could be the problem, also. If the controller is getting the wrong information, or none at all, it may not send enough pellets to the fire pot to keep the fire going.

While you’d expect to see an error code, such as LEr, remember if you’ve got your temperature up to, say, 400F, it’ll be a while before it drops below 125F, even without any fire.

A third possibility is the fan. There’s a little fan in your Traeger that helps push oxygen over the fire pot to stoke the fire. If it’s not running for some reason, this could affect the ability to keep a fire burning. If you can hear the fan humming, you’re all good. If not, it is, yet again, time to call Traeger.

Traeger Grill Not Lighting

The power is on (this should be the first thing you check for any problem!), the auger is turning, the pellets are dropping in the fire pot – but nothing is lighting. Here’s an easy one to solve.

The most likely answer here is the ignitor isn’t working. Try running the grill with no pellets, and remove the heat diffuser, the drip pan, and the grates so you can see right into the fire pot. The tip of the ignitor should glow red. If not, there’s your issue. You know what that means – call Traeger!

It’s also possible this is a fan issue. If the fan isn’t working, there may not be enough oxygen in the environment for the pellets to catch. Listen for the hum of the fan motor to determine if it’s working.

Final Thoughts

Now that we’ve been through all the traeger error codes and four further potential issues, you might be concerned that Traeger pellet grills are doomed to failure?

We assure you this is not the case!

You may own your grill for years and never have a single problem. Maybe you’ll experience a couple of the minor issues on rare occasions. Traeger grills are excellent products, but even the best-built gear can suffer from defects or be at the mercy of uncontrollable outside influences.

Now that you know what the most common issues are and how to deal with them, you can go back to loving your grill. Keep calm and Traeger on!

Thanks for picking us to help you troubleshoot your Traeger pellet grill. If you have any questions, please do drop them in the comment section below.

Happy grilling!

Mark Jenner

Hi. I'm Mark Jenner, owner and creator of FoodFireFriends.com. I grill and smoke food outdoors at least three days a week on a wide range of equipment, have done so for years, and love nothing more than cooking good food, over live fire, enjoying it with friends. The aim of this site is to educate and help others to do the same.

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