Heat problem with Weber Smokey Mountain

The friendliest place on the web for anyone that enjoys cooking.
If you have answers, please help by responding to the unanswered posts.


Assistant Cook
Mar 14, 2010
Last night I decided to do some chicken quarters on the WSM and figured I would use 1 chimney of charcoal and get the temp as high as possible, add a little smoke and get it done in a fairly quick time. Unfortunately, the temp never got above 200 and I ended up finishing the chicken on my Weber Kettle grill and it was bad. What did I do wrong? Maybe I did not let it get hot enough before adding chicken, I only waited about 20 minutes after adding charcoal. Maybe vents were wrong, they were only half open for the first hour. Never had this problem before, any thoughts?
1- Not enough lit to begin with.
2- Vents not open enough.
3- Wet charchol.
4- Not enough fuel.
5- Didn't let coals get hot before cooking.

Take any number or combination of the above and that could be your culprit.
Thanks for the reply, how long should it take to heat up the WSM after adding a hot chimney of coals?
billhale said:
Thanks for the reply, how long should it take to heat up the WSM after adding a hot chimney of coals?
20 minutes, give or take.

Rag said:
Was it a 22 incher? Mine won't heat worth a crap and sucks charcoal down in a hurry.
Start with more lit. If you still have problems, give me a call and I'll take the piece of crap off your hands! ;)
If you have the 18" WSM, start with 1 1/2 chimneys of fully lit fuel ie, all of it white hot before adding chicken. That's a total of about 150 briquettes if you use a Weber chimney. Water pan is empty. Leave the bottom vents and the top vent fully open. I get 350* this way consistently. If you have the 22" WSM, good luck, don't have one.
I agree with Dave...use more lit coals and leave all the vents open 100%...just foil the water pan...or take it out all together...that will help the temps spike up quicker. I said this is another post earlier...but if you have a kettle use it for cooks like this. The WSM is built for low and slow...not high heat. :)
I have the 22.5" WSM and generally only use it for low and slow cooking. On occasion I have wanted a higher temp for things like meat loaf, etc. When I do, I leave all vents at 100% open and also place a wood chop stick under the lid to allow for extra air to flow inside. Doing this, I can get a pretty consistent 300 to 350 degree grate temperature. If it starts getting to high, I pull out the chop stick. If it's lower than I want, I stick it back under the lid. You can even fine tune it some by sliding it in further or pulling it out some from under the lid. The chop stick's taper raises and lowers the lid accordingly.

The key is letting the coals get up to speed first before starting the cook. I light up a 1/2 to 3/4 full chimney and dump it on a lump (70%) and briquette (30% - Kingsford Competition) mixture of fuel. It's usually ready to go after 10 to 15 minutes. I'm in So. Cal. so the air temp is pretty mild and not very humid. You may have to wait longer where you are.

Also, I always use the water pan in the WSM. Some folks like to use dry sand in it but I kind of like the water. Clean up isn't to bad either. I have two large dogs who get excited every time I light up the WSM. :LOL:
Omit the mid section... put in the full chimney into the charcoal bowl, spread it out, but leave an small area so you have a cool spot to put the hot pieces if they flare up.....let the coals go all white and chill for a bit. Put the bottom rack from the mid section on top of the charcoal ring... dome on top of the charcoal bowl. One or two bottom vents cracked just a wee bit...dome 50%. Watch it CLOSE.

Like other said... the WSM is a smoker... not a grill. Get e a real grill if you don't have one.

Regarding the wood flavor... I add 1-2 small chunks of wood to ANYTHING I grill. Essential in my opinion ;)
If you want to do chicken quick, use a grill and grill directly over coals. Add a small chunk of wood if you want that smokey flavor. You can have quarters cooked in 30-45ish minutes (after the coals are lit).

I think it's fun using the WSM as a grill, but it'll take a bit longer to cook. Like others said, remove the water pan and open the smoker vents all the way up. Depending on how many coals you have in the ring and how hot it is, you could have the quarters cooked in between 60-120 minutes.

Happy cooking!

Latest posts

Top Bottom