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Lump Charcoal problems

SWKSWK Posts: 15
edited 6:47AM in EGG Table Forum
I bought my egg about 3 months ago and I'm regretting the purchase. It cooks great when I can get it to get hot enough which has only happened once.

I had a huge 4th of July party and the egg wouldn't heat up so the chicken took almost 3 hours, and I had to start using my oven to feed people. I used Green egg lump charcoal at first, then switched to Cowboy from home depot.

I used firestarters then electric starter....

I have called the store I bought it from and am looking to return the egg if things don't improve....

Anyone else this dissappointed or have any of these issues??????

I'm thinking of putting a regular charcoal grill on my new built in Bar-Be-Que......


  • BGE'er since 1996 Large BGE 1996, Small BGE 1996, Mini BGE 1997
  • I am a recent purchaser also, after having used smokers and/or charcoal grills for years. I think the egg is far superior to those--I hate you are having a major, unusual problem. I have been reading a bunch of the forums, and your problem in not being able to get up to a good hot temp sounds very unusual (you did not give what temp you maxed out at, but first time I used the egg went right up to 650 before I put top daisy wheel back on and shut lower draft door some). In any event, you have some problem related to airflow as best I can tell, so I will give you everything I know to check and think about:

    1. When lighting, you should do the followig:
    a) Fill with lump charcoal to top of the firebox bowl(this will be several inches below your grilling surface--although you fill further when doing an overnight cook)
    b) Make sure your bottom vent on the egg is fully open during start up
    c) Light your charcoal with firestarter block or electric starter (NEVER use lighter fluid)
    d) Close the egg lid after lighting (you don't leave the lid open like with a charcoal grill. You also don't cook with the lid open)
    e) Take the top cap competely off the lid
    e) You should be up to 650 for searing steaks within 10-12 minutes or so. If you have a recipe that calls for 400 degrees, then you will put the top daisy wheel cap back on and close the lower vent some when your temp hits 450--but again, that should be fairly quickly, 10 min or so. When you get to 650 you will put top daisy wheel cap back on but leave daisy wheel open while searing steaks each side.

    2. Before doing all of the above, maybe also check the following:

    a) Open your bottom vent and make sure you can see through to the back side. There is an opening in the bottom of the ceramic firebox that has to line up with the vent opening. If someone did not line up these openings, then you don't have airflow and you would never get up to temp. All you have to do is open egg, take out the top ceramic fire ring, and then turn the bottom ceramic piece until opeing lines up with bottom vent.
    b) That bottom ceramic piece also has several air holes around where the charcoal goes. Make sure those are all open and not clogged by small pieces of charcoal.
    c) The bottom ceramic piece also has a charcoal grate that sites in it (small round disc full of holes--I assume you have that in place and it is not missing, and if missing, go get it from the dealer).

    Hope this helps. Don't back to charcoal grill--the Egg is far superior.

    Good Luck.

    PS--go over to the regular egg forum and check out pics people post of their cooks--some will show the glowing red hot charcoal under the grill--you should be getting this)s

    Also--you do have to calibrate the egg lid temp guage. Take thermometer out of egg (slide clip off on back), boil a pan of water, hold temp guage with tongs and stick probe end in boiling water past the small line on the temp probe (about halfway up). It should read 212 F/ 100 C. If not, you hold the guage and turn nut on back to adjust. Then retest and readjust until you get it right. You have to do this with all new guages. Mine was 50 degrees off as received--apparently they do not calibrate them at the factory.
  • For a little more, here is what BGE has on their website:

    I still cannot get the temperature of my Big Green Egg above 350°F. What could I be doing wrong?
    There are two common reasons why the EGG will not reach higher temperatures.

    The first is lack of airflow. Make sure that all of the air holes are free of obstructions, including those in the fire grate, the fire box, and the space behind and around the firebox. It is also necessary for the horseshoe shaped opening in the firebox to be aligned with the lower draft door in order to obtain proper air flow. Increasing the amount of air will ensure the EGG reaches higher temperatures.

    The second reason you may have trouble attaining higher temperatures is that the lump charcoal is wet or damp. If charcoal is wet, or was wet and has not completely dried, it will be very difficult to reach higher cooking temperatures. Removing the wet charcoal and replacing it with fresh, dry lump coal will remedy this problem.

    (PS--you posted your question on the "Table Forum"--if you post general questions like this on the main forum I bet you will get more "eyes" on it)
  • SWKSWK Posts: 15
    Thanks for the info.

    unfortunately I have done everything you suggested....

    I will remove all old lump charcoal at this point and go buy the green egg lump to see if makes any difference. I believe everything is aligned correctly, but I will double check.

    Thanks for the info on the thermometer. No one told me that and I read all instructions and didn't see them explaing that anywhere.... Maybe I missed it, but that is good info.

    One night we had two big pizzas to cook, and we couldn't get the temp up. My wife and I got in a huge argument and put them in the oven, night ruined...

    Last night same thing, couldn't cook fish, and argument over this green thing that we spent over $1200 on and spent much more on a built in bar be que, we paid to have it built into. My wife didn't like this thing because it's green and ugly, I talked her into it, and now it doesn't work so I'm a little in the dog house..

    I hope we can figure it out before she gets it returned, she is not happy, nor i'm I so, thanks for the info and I hope the next time it works.....

    The only reason I still have it is because the store we bought it from went out of business, we called another store for a return, and we ae waiting for an answer from them....

    I've never been more dissappointed in something I was told was sooooo great, and then it's not working for me..

    It's good to hear they can work...

    Thanks again.
  • I am still amazed by your problem. The things I read is some people don't read instructions or watch the video, and first time they light they let temp soar to 900 or higher and burn up the thermometer. Haven't read about your failure to heat up problem. One good (and funny) site I found is Freds Music and BBQ--the smokein guitar player who plays and cooks. Here are his videos below on lighting the egg--one with the looflighter which is what I use, and one with starter blocks like you use. Good luck and let us know if you get it worked out. (PS--on the thermometer thing, the calibration info was on a little separate sheet in the thermometer box, so if you had the egg assembled for you, they probably tossed it and you never saw it--it is not explained in the Egg manual--but it should be)

    Here is a link to Fred lighting with the looftlighter--pretty funny too:

    And here is Fred lighting with fire starter blocks:
  • Aside from the wonderful advice you've already been given, if you have a reputable dealer, ask him to SHOW you how to achieve proper temps.

    Also, try to get to an Eggfest ASAP (STAT) :P

    Unless it's a knockoff being touted as an Egg, or unless there's a crack in the base that you're not aware of, or unless there's an alignment issue between the dome & the base, and unless there's a gaping hole due to not having a proper gasket, and unless there's debris plugging the holes in the bottom of the fire ring and/or the bottom vent - then you shouldn't be having this much trouble.

    Remember - fire has been around for quite awhile now - and it really only needs 3 things to survive: fuel (in this case lump), air, and heat / ignition. So, by definition, it HAS to be one of these three things.

    P.S. You'll get MANY more responses by moving / posting this question in the main forum (you're now in the Table forum)

    Don't get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water. Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup... Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend. - Bruce Lee
  • SWK--still regretting your sad tale. Us husbands are supposed to be good at grillin, and you are getting killed and you have your wife mad at you. My story is the opposite--my brother in law and I have talked about possibly getting Eggs for some time but cost was pretty high. Then, my college age son got a summer job this summer at pool and spa service company that is a dealer--and I found out he gets a great employee discount. So, it was now or never, my BIL and I both bought eggs at Father's Day, and have been grillin up a storm since then--whole chickens, big burgers, ribeyes, planked salmon, ribs etc. We are both having a blast and the wives and kids ask us to grill more often--and our food was good before. I am a CooksIllustrated Fan and like trying new stuff, and now on the grill the Egg has taken the outdoor stuff to a new level. I can get Egg up to temp a lot faster than my regular charcoal grill/smoker, so it is fairly easy to dash in from work and grill on Egg even during the week.

    Good luck and let us know. I definitely would go back to Egg charcoal for right now so you can eliminate charcoal as being a problem.
  • Yes, this is making me sad too. I have never heard of anyone having THIS much trouble. As someone said previously, I've heard plenty of stories of folks lamenting about the Egg getting TOO hot, but very rarely folks not being able to get it hot enough (especially at the "normal" temps that he's wanting - 300-400). It might be different if he was trying to get it to 700-1000, but he should be having NO problem getting it to 300-400.

    Another thought - what altitude are you at? Because the 212/100 temp is for sea level - if you're up in the mountains, that temp will be different (I'm sure someone will post a link w/ a boiling point calculator).

    Anyway, aside from something blocking off the airflow, I have no idea what else it could be - which is why I suggested going to the dealer & having him SHOW you, or if you're close by a fellow Egghead forum user, I'm sure he/she would be willing to show you.

    But, SOMETHING isn't right - and it's bugging me :(
    Don't get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water. Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup... Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend. - Bruce Lee
  • Reverend BSBReverend BSB Posts: 157
    I smell a troll. There is no reason someone following the advice of earlier posts would have any problem getting the Egg to a higher temp.
  • I am new here, so why in the world would there be a troll on a board about grillin? I am an active stock investor and understand why people post rumors, etc--they are short the stock and want it to down. Why post misleading info here--he was not even touting a competing product--and he was thinkin of going back to a regular charcoal grill. Looked legitimate to me--plus he posted on the "table" board which is not the most often read board--someone wanting to bash the Egg should/would go to main forum it seems.

    I still suspect maybe the opening the lower ceramic firebox is not lined up with the vent opening.

    Hopefully we will hear back good news soon.
  • SWKSWK Posts: 15
    Ok, I went to a store that sells the egg, as the one I purchased it from it is closed. They were shocked I was having this problem too. So, I cleaned out all the lump charcoal that was in the egg, and made sure everything was assembled right, which it was. I bought green egg lump charcoal and I will try again, I hope it works better....

    I got specific instructions on how to get it to burn hot, I hope for better results next time I use it.
  • SWKSWK Posts: 15
    I'm seriously having problems, not starting rumors, I claened out the egg bought new lump charcoal and I will try again.
  • SWK--don't keep us waiting (and risk making your wife mad again with 3 hour chicken--LOL). Even if you aren't cooking this weekend, you should go ahead and light the BGE and try to get up to temperature. You won't really waste much charcoal at all--just start it up and see if you get to 600 in 12 minutes or so (or maybe 10 minutes after you take the electric starter out if you are using electric starter--I use the looftlighter which takes 2 minutes or less to get starting coals hot so I think I get the starting hot coals going a little quicker than electric starter). If you get up to temp with no problem, then just shut everything down and you should be ready to go next time.

    Good Luck.

    PS--I don't think you posted it previously, what was your max temp when you were cooking unsuccessfully? and what size BGE do you have? I assume when you went to the second dealer you did see an BGE with circular perforated charcoal grate in place and you do have that in yours.
  • HicHic Posts: 350
    I didn't read everyones posts but another thing is to make sure you lights the charcoal in multiple locations. I use the firestarters and take a square and break it into 3 pieces and put them in a triangle shape. I leave the lid open for a few minutes while everything gets hot and then close. Then use the DFMT and draft door adjustments when I'm close to desired temp.

    Large, medium, small and a mini. Egg'n, golfing, beer drinking, camping and following football and baseball.
    Atlanta NOTP suburbia.

  • BarManBeanBarManBean Posts: 129
    SWK, where are you located? Maybe someone can stop by to take a look at things...?
  • ShedFarmShedFarm Posts: 499
    I was just wondering the same thing. If we had a location, there may be another Egghead in the area that could go out to his house and check things out, then walk him through getting his egg going.
    BJ (Powhatan, VA)
  • SWKSWK Posts: 15
    I live in Phoenix AZ. I cleaned it all out, so I can try from scratch again.
  • SWKSWK Posts: 15
    I have perforated grate. I have the biggest one you can get. I got it to 350 degress. It's a bummer a little reluctant to use it again, but I will try again. The store gave me a number of a manager if it doesn't work so I can possibly get another egg, or work something out. I hope I can get it going next time.
  • SWKSWK Posts: 15
    I have used the fire starters, and then switched to electric starter. I will try firestarters again.
  • Capt FrankCapt Frank Posts: 2,578
    Once in a while someone will fail to put the cast iron fire grate in the egg before they add the lump. If the grate is not installed and the lump goes all the way through to the ash pit you can barely get a fire. Could this be your problem?
  • SWK--for some further information, go to this classic post which has tons of info andlinks on the Egg. If you scroll down to "Overnight Cook--Step by Step" you will get a visual guide of starting the Egg from scratch--cleaning out ash, all parts installed properly, bottom vent aligned, etc. It should help solve your problem.
  • SWKSWK Posts: 15
    It's there I haven't used the egg for about 3 weeks now

    Using good 'Ole fashined charcoal weber again, good thing i never got rid of it :)
  • SWK--you should 1) call the manufacturer, 2) post some pictures here down inside the egg--firebox, etc, and 3) post your problem on the main egg forum and see if someone in Phoenix area with an egg close to you who will come by and check it out.
  • SWKSWK Posts: 15
    Good point I might do that.

    Everyting is there I emptied it out and checked, and rechecked everything is there...
  • I linked your post over on the main board--maybe someone will be in Phoenix area and can come by and help.
  • SWKSWK Posts: 15
    Thanks I'm kind of frustrated so we decided to leave it alone for a while.

    Maybe there is something wrong with the material?
  • Little ChefLittle Chef Posts: 4,725
    SWK: First things first...Arrow up to the top of this page, click on 'Forums', and go to "Egghead Forum" (the top pick in the drop down). You are on the section dedicated to people making tables for them. You'll get a lot more assistance in the correct forum. And in case you don't navigate there, this may sound really obvious, but, do you have the cast iron grate in the bottom of the firebox prior to adding the lump?? It's only about 8 inches around...holds the lump out of the bottom of the fire box?
  • SWKSWK Posts: 15
    i do
  • Little ChefLittle Chef Posts: 4,725
    You will learn a lot more if you come to the active forum. 'Egghead Forum'...first pick if you just click on the word forum above! This section is for people building tables. Only reason you are getting the assitance you are is because Egghead123 put your post on the main forum. So come on over!!! And say thanks to Egghead 123. ;)
  • frogfrogfrogfrog Posts: 24

    I had some issues when I first got my egg. I went from "frustrated/holy crap, I just talked my wife into this and I can't get it to work" to "my wife and I both think its the greatest cooking invention ever."

    Here's what I did wrong:

    1. I loaded it up with way too much charcoal (and had little pieces in there blocking my wind flow. Once you try it again, start with just about 10 big chunks. You'll be amazed at how hot it will get and how long those will last.

    2. I have had some issues with my charcoal getting wet. After it gets wet (and even when it dries out again), it doesn't want to light and takes forever to get up to temp.

    I hope these help. I know the frustration, but it gets better.
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