Kamado Joe Not Getting Hot Enough? Common Causes And Solutions

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Suppose, you find your Kamado Joe not getting hot enough one fine morning. Now what should you do?

Honestly speaking, the culprit is either the charcoal or the airflow. You are probably using damp lump charcoal or not feeding the grill enough fuel. Otherwise, the grill lacks adequate airflow due to inadequate ventilation.

However, there could be some other issues as well. So, let’s look forward to them with possible quick fixes to heat up your KJ grill to your desired temperature.

Why Is My Kamado Joe Not Getting Hot Enough? – The Reasons

With years of experience with Kamado Joe, I found the following common reasons behind a KJ grill not getting hot enough-

Damp Charcoal: One of the common Kamado Joe mistakes is to use damp charcoal. As water and fire don’t go together, wet charcoal will never make your smoker reach a high temperature. You can use a safe kamado joe charcoal storage system to prevent charcoal from getting damp. 

Therefore, you must use fresh and dry charcoal. Also, using briquettes also makes the grill heat slower than using hardwood lump charcoal.

Reusing Charcoal : We all do that. Mixing some leftover charcoal with the new one, you know! But how much? That’s the biggest question when you want your Kamado Joe too hot.

If you reuse too much charcoal to start the fire, that surely affects the overall temperature of the smoker. Because fresh charcoal always burns hotter. Also, they lit up easier. 

Anyway, if you don’t want to waste your charcoal, check this article to get a set of ideas about what to do with them. 

Inadequate Airflow: If you prefer the Kamado Joe 900 degrees, that seems impossible without sufficient airflow. Because we all know that it’s the oxygen that keeps the fire burning. 

If the two vents are not properly adjusted to let the air in and out, your grill will fail to create a high heat for searing or BBQing. 

That means limited airflow could badly affect the temperature setting of a Kamado Joe grill.

Insufficient Amount of Charcoal: Sometimes, the firebox is not filled with adequate charcoal to get the fire hotter. 

Whether you prefer Kamado Joe indirect heat or direct grilling method, the correct amount of charcoal is the key.

Until and unless the firebox of the grill is not occupied enough, you cannot expect a really high-temperature flow, more than 600° F, for instance. 

Dirty Firebox: Again, we all have been there. In most cases, we cook on the grill, we eat and repeat. 

But what about cleaning the grill? Probably you clean the top of the dome. But a dirty firebox never contributes to high heat flow for grilling or searing. 

If there are small pieces of charcoal from your previous cook or there are dust, dirt, and debris in the firebox,  they will limit the airflow inside. 

And the same goes for the ash catcher too. That’s why an uncleaned firebox or ash basket of a KJ grill stops the grill from reaching the optimum heat range.

Also Read: Kamado Joe Charcoal Basket vs. Kick Ash Basket: Which is Better for Grilling?

Improper Lighting Method: Another common issue with a non-heating Kamado grill is the wrong lighting technique. 

Whether you use an electric fire starter along with a charcoal chimney or some newspapers to light the grill up, it must be effective enough to start the fire and ignite the coal lumps thoroughly.

Worn Out Gasket: If the gasket around the lid is faulty, it cannot seal the heat and air inside. As a result, you will see the KJ grill denying reaching a higher heat count.

Wrong Thermometer Reading: Yes, that’s very much possible. Perhaps, you left the built-in thermometer uncalibrated for a long time and now it’s providing faulty temperature readings.

Sometimes, the heat reading could be affected by humidity, wind, moisture, internal food grease, dirt, etc.

Also, a damaged thermometer makes you believe that you are not getting enough grilling temperature whereas the heat range is perfectly alright.

Kamado Joe Not Getting Hot Enough – Fix It Now

Enough with the problems. Now it’s time to fix the issues. So, let’s dig deeper into how to troubleshoot a Kamado that’s not getting hot enough.

Dump the Damp Charcoal: No time to waste when your dinner guests are waiting at the table. So, dump those damp lump charcoal and replace them with dry ones. You can reach your required temperature pretty fast.

Also, it’s equally important to use good quality coals. Try using natural hardwood lump charcoal instead of briquettes. They light up quicker and burn hotter. Moreover, they produce lesser ashes as well. 

Also Read: Can You Mix Lump Charcoal With Briquettes (Answered)

Be Calculative to Reuse Charcoal: We all know that already burnt coals help the fresh ones heat up faster. But you should mix them in 20-30%. Otherwise, it will affect the heat flow.

Maximize the Airflow: Next, you need to ensure proper ventilation to maximize the airflow. If the grill grate at the bottom is blocked with debris, clean the grate to keep the air flowing. 

Additionally, try using a fire grate that has larger holes. It will let the coal lumps fall through and keep the oxygen flow consistent. 

Resultantly, you can make the Kamado heat up to 700-900° F. Searing and grilling would be a breeze! What do you say?

Further to the above, try placing the heat deflector up high following the Divide and Conquer policy to ensure more airflow in the outside edges of the grill.

Fill the Firebox: To achieve a maximum temperature in Kamado cooking, follow the Kamado Joe temperature chart and fill the firebox accordingly. 

If you aim at hot and fast cooking for a large amount of food, there should be enough fuel in the firebox. High heat always leads to high fuel consumption, you know! It should be filled to within 4 inches of the top for high heat searing. 

Clean the Kamado Grill: Whether it’s the ash basket or the firebox, you should clean the grill thoroughly. You should remove the food grease, charcoal leftover, and ashes to unclog the grill so as to increase airflow.

Actually, you should keep each part of the grill clean. If needed, remove the ash shovel in the bottom to let plenty of air in.

Adjust the Air Vents: Here comes the most important part which is the vent setting. At first, you should keep both the top and bottom vents wide open so as not to restrict the airflow.

Wait until you reach your desired temperature. Then close the top vent or adjust it according to your requirements.

To make the flame burn furiously, you should leave the draft door open and the chimney cap off throughout. 

Replace the Gasket: To prevent air and heat leakage and to bless the BBQ grill with a better seal, you should replace the damaged gasket.

Light Up the Grill Accurately: You should start the fire in the grill accurately to promote high-temperature grilling. Whatever method you follow to ignite the charcoal, make sure the flame spreads evenly.

Moreover, never use any lighter fluid to light the grill up. At the same time, allow some time to preheat the grill properly. You can close the lid when the charcoal starts turning gray 

Change the Thermometer: If the built-in temperature gauge is at fault and differs from the actual heat count of the grill, you should go for an external thermometer to check the temperature. 

Sometimes, the heat gauge needs calibration as it freezes at a lower temperature. If calibration doesn’t help much, replace it with a new one.

Also Read: Kamado Joe Accessory Storage Solutions for Every Grill Master

How Long Does It Take To Heat Up A Kamado Joe?

Usually, it takes 10-15 minutes to heat up a Kamado grill. But the time also varies a bit depending on the charcoal quality, weather conditions, airflow, etc. 

However, measure the internal temperature of the grill with a thermometer to be sure if it’s properly preheated or not.

Can Weather Conditions Affect The Heat Output of My Kamado Joe?

Yes, it can. Adverse weather conditions notably decelerate the heat flow. For example,  lower ambient temperature, high wind flow, and humidity, rain, snow, etc. can make the grill take longer to heat up. Also, these factors contribute to lower heat retention. 

Can The Age or Condition of The Charcoal Affect The Heat Output of My Kamado Joe?

Yes, absolutely. If the charcoal is too old, they lose efficiency and don’t burn as hot as the fresh ones. Besides, high-quality lump charcoal contributes to higher heat generation compared to low-quality briquettes.

At the same time, if you don’t store them properly, they will absorb moisture. And who doesn’t know the challenges to ignite damp lump charcoal?

Nevertheless, you should consider the charcoal shape and size as well. Larger charcoal chunks offer netter heat output though they take longer to ignite.

Smaller charcoal pieces, on the other hand, ignite quicker but burn out faster to lower heat retention.

Also Read: Mastering Kamado Cooking: A 101 Guide for Beginners

What Temperature Range Should I Expect From My Kamado Joe Grill?

Generally, a Kamado Joe grill burns at anywhere between 225°-750° F. Sometimes, you can achieve nearly 900° F by making some necessary adjustments. 

How Can I Troubleshoot Low-Temperature Issues With My Kamado Joe?

Surely, you can. Based on identifying which part of the grill is at fault, you can troubleshoot it. 

Generally, by preheating the grill properly, improving charcoal quality, promoting increased airflow, cleaning the ash regularly, keeping the vents wide open, and calibrating the temperature gauge, you can fix the issue.


To sum up the guide on Kamado Joe not getting hot enough, I suggest determining the cause first. It might be one of the above reasons the grill is not heating up to your expectations. 

Whatever the cause is, I have mentioned a solution for each. Just follow the tricks accordingly and you can troubleshoot your Kamado heating issues at home.

One friendly reminder, it’s even harder to reduce heat in a Kamado Joe than rising it. So, try increasing the temperature slowly to avoid overshooting. 

Happy grilling!

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