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Dome misalignment, commonly known as underbite/overbite, remains one of the most significant issues in any Kamado Joe grill. Overbite is more common than underbite but these 2 issues happen for mostly the same reason and the fix can be very simple or a lot more involved depending on your luck.
But how do you go on about fixing Kamado Joe Overbite or Underbite issues? While the fixes are widely talked about and available for competing brands like Big Green Egg, Kamado Joe fixes are often going under the radar.
Let’s change that, shall we?
What Are The Reasons For Kamado Joe Overbiting?
It is such a shame that even on a multi-thousand-dollar premium machine, these issues keep persisting. Worst of all, it is not always caused due to user error. Regular wear and tear can cause them just fine. So what are exactly the reasons?
Let’s take a look:
Faulty Factory Assembly: This is an issue that happens when you get a Kamado Joe that did not get a proper assembly treatment from the factory.
Although it is very rare, I have a lot of accounts for this issue and Kamado Joe should really up their quality control.
The dome alignment, airlift hinge, front latch, or band can all cause this problem and the fixes are often complicated.
Shipping Issues: Kamado Joe is not directly responsible for this reason but they also can do much to alleviate it. If the shipping company is not careful while delivering your Kamado Grill and the box gets tossed around a lot, a misalignment between the nuts and acorn bolts can happen causing Overbite.
Heat Cycles: This is something that will only happen after you have used the grill for a good amount of time. Especially when used on super high heat like cooking a pizza, the heating and cooling cycle may cause the band or the nuts that keep your dome together to deform. This deformation will lead to overbiting.
Miscellaneous: Dome or band deformation may also happen for a slew of other reasons like poor storing conditions, gaskets giving up, and rapid change in weather can change the alignment.
No worries as all of these problems can be fixed at home using simple wrenches, sockets, and alan keys. Let’s see how!
How to Fix Kamado Joe Overbite – The Ultimate Guide
If you don’t know what overbite is already, it is when the dome of your grill comes forward beyond the bottom body of your grill. This means that the two parts won’t be touching evenly and there will be an overlap.
This can happen due to a variety of reasons like the latch not being aligned properly or the hinges being bent/faulty, or the metal band not sitting evenly on the dome.
There are multiple fixes and we will go through each of them in easiest to most difficult order.
This is the most commonly seen issue and also has the easiest fix. First, you need to take a good look at the dome and where it sits.
If you notice that there is not necessarily a big misalignment but you can’t really fully close the dome and the latch seems to get in the way, your latch is most probably out of alignment.
The smart designers at Kamado Joe designed the latch and the lock to be fully adjustable. You will see that the 2 parts of the latch are attached to your grill body using 4 acorn nuts.
2 on each part. These acorn nuts allow the latch and the locks to move left and right. If you use a wrench or a socket to loosen them (or take them out entirely) and move them left or right so that both are centered and can be in a straight line.
However, that will not always solve the issue. Because sometimes, the misalignment is not horizontal in nature but vertical. Thankfully, Kamado Joe has thought of this too.
Your eye is once again your best friend here and if you notice carefully, in the lock section of your latch meaning the section that is attached to your bottom grill body, you will see a small hole that is made for a 3/32” alan wrench.
By using the appropriate alan wrench you can adjust the height of the lock and the latch should work properly. Play around with these 2 adjustments to see if it fixes your overbiting problem. In most cases, they will.
Adjusting the Hinge
If you are sure the latch is not the source of your problem and it functions just right, it is worth playing around with the hinge.
However, before you even touch the hinge, you need to locate a tool that came in the box of your Kamado Joe.
This set of tools will be separately packed and it is called the airlift lock. As you know the Kamado Joe dome is pretty weightless when lifting and since the actual dome is pretty heavy and is not really “weightless” the airlift does the magic.
This airlift is so powerful that if you try to adjust the hinge without locking it down, the dome may as well whack you in the face or fly outwards.
The airlift lock comes in 3 pieces, one metallic cylinder, one washer, and one nut. First, look below the airlift section and you will see a screw protruding downwards.
Put this screw through the cylinder and lock the cylinder in place using the washer and then the nut. Your airlift is locked now and you can not open the dome.
So now, around the top part of the hinge, you will see 6 acorn nuts, 3 on each side, adhering the hinge to the band and subsequently the dome.
You need a wrench or a socket tool to loosen this. Always follow a crisscross pattern while loosening or tightening screws, for instance, here you should loosen the right most and left most first, then move on to the center 2, and loosen the innermost 2 last.
Now that the nuts are loose, you can physically move your dome. You might need to use a good bit of force but adjust the dome so that it sits perfectly on the bottom part and no overbiting is seen.
Once you are happy with the alignments, tighten the acorn nuts in the same order you unscrewed them.
Adjusting the Band
If the hinge adjustment did not fix your overbiting issue, you need to dig a little bit further. Meaning undoing the bands and fixing any persistent alignment issues. Do not take out the airlift lock as it is even more crucial for this step.
First, you will need to loosen the same 6 acorn nuts as the step above. Then look for a set of nuts and bolts towards the left of the hinge that attaches the metal band to the dome. You will need an Allen key and a wrench/socket to loosen this set.
Once loosened, you can adjust the dome to sit right on the grill. Take your time with this adjustment and be careful not to drop the heavy dome as it will definitely break.
After the adjustments are done, tighten the band again (use a crisscross pattern) and take the airlift lock off. See if the issue is fixed. It should be at this point.
The last 3 steps, any one of them, should fix your problem. If overbiting is still an issue, you need to look at faulty parts and their possible replacements. The first possible culprit is the metallic band.
You may email Kamado Joe for a replacement or even buy an aftermarket option either of which will work pretty well. Remember when installing the new band, always look for even spacing and parallel lines all around the dome between the upper band, 2 gaskets, and the lower band.
Another part that may possibly need a replacement is the airlift hinge itself. Take all the associating nuts and bolts out and remove the entire hinge. Take a close look at the attachment arms, if they are properly aligned or look even, the hinge is probably fine.
If the two arms look very different meaning one arm seems longer than another, your hinge has gone bad and you need a replacement directly from Kamado Joe.
Kamado Joe Underbite – The Reasons
Underbite is a similar issue where the dome and the body are misaligned. The difference between this and overbite is, in the case of overbite, the dome will come forward.
Underbite is pretty much the same except the bottom part of the grill body comes forward.
Since these two issues are incredibly similar, their reasons are also exactly the same. Namely, faulty assembly, heat cycles, and shipping damage will also cause underbiting.
How to Fix Kamado Joe Underbite – The Ultimate Guide
Honestly, there is nothing to do differently here. You need to do the same steps you did for the overbiting fix and just adjust the dome properly. Do all 4 of the steps to find out exactly where the problem lies.
Pray that you do not need a replacement part and simple adjustments can fix the issue. Parts, especially the airlift can get pretty expensive if you need to purchase them out of warranty.
How to Avoid Kamado Joe Overbite & Underbite?
Okay, I will cut right to the chase. There is not really much you can do to avoid these two issues from ever occurring.
It is not just a problem with the Kamado Joe but pretty much every other Kamado grill out there. Due to the way these grills need to be designed, these issues may happen sooner or later.
However, the main thing you should do is check your grill right as it arrives at your doorstep. Ensure there are no overbiting or underbiting issues right out of the box as that means factory or shipping failures. If you do notice them, immediately contact Kamado Joe to get your replacement unit.
Unfortunately, if you want to avoid these issues at any cost, the only advice you will find is not to go to the absolute maximum in terms of temperature. Meaning no pizza or similar food. Only then the heating cycle can be reduced to a more manageable level but where is the fun in that?
A Kamado Grill is a do-it-all device that can pretty much cook up anything you can think of. Nevertheless, with this unlimited flexibility, comes the big issues of underbiting and overbiting. By now you should know how to fix these issues as they are not avoidable at all. Put this knowledge to good use and keep those meats smoking!