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RT-680 Cleaning... not just the grates

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    RT-680 Cleaning... not just the grates

    TL;DR How do you clean your smoker? Do you only do grates/drip pan, or do you steam clean every part inside and out? Somewhere in between? Looking for guidance...

    Long Story:
    Ok, I'll start off by admitting that cleaning is not my favorite thing in the world to do. Of all the things to do, it is on my list somewhere between root canal and elective surgery. I clean my grates and drip pan (foil covered but 'stuff' still ends up under the foil somehow) between cooks. For the most part, I leave the internal crust that has built up and call it "seasoned". I do scrape out, usually with a piece of cardboard , some of the accumulated gunk / grease / other that gathers at the bottom of the barrel when it becomes noticeable.

    Backstory:
    Anyway, I have had my RT-680 for close to 5 years now, and it has a 6 year warranty, and I had an issue where the pellets blocked things up a bit and needed some cleaning out. During this pellet dam, the igniter was ruined. I called in, and yes, RT has held up their end of the bargain in an amazing fashion. They sent a replacement ceramic pot. In the interim, I still had the replacement igniter they shipped to use. So, as long as I was working inside the smoker, I decided to get things a little more clean that normal. I found that where all this gunk collects, the high temp paint had peeled up and this greasy concoction was just sitting directly on metal. (another call in and they sent me a can of high temp paint, but that's because they are awesome) Anyway, I have heard that as stuff sticks/accumulates on the inside of the smoker, it helps with things like 'flavor profile' and 'efficiency' because there is more mass so there is better heat retention. I do not have 3" of protein carbon on the inside of my smoker, so I am not sure how much heat is really being retained... The smoker is rolled outside of my garage to cook, then once cooled, rolled back in for storage. It does not live 'outside'.

    I have heard: "Only clean the parts that touch food" and "if it is movable, it is cleanable" and "If you can see layers, it is time to scrape a few off."

    So, my question boils down simply to: How do you clean your smoker?

    #2
    With past pellet grills I normally vacuumed the ash from the cook chamber every 40ish pounds of pellets and changed drip pan foil. I would wipe the outside off fairly regularly and use simple green (Lemon) if needed. Once or twice a year I would burn off at max temp for an hour, then after everything cools completely take a plastic scraper and knock off any heavy build up inside the cook chamber and check that chimney or vents weren’t collecting build up. Then lightly wipe the inside with an OLD, but clean rag. If I saw a lot of dust build up in bottom of hopper, might drain it and vacuum it out. That was about it.

    Learning a little different process with MAK since it has some different design elements and more stainless I want to keep clean.

    I also would not paint anything inside a cook chamber. If it’s factory painted, but chipped I wipe with oil if exposed until carbon build up protects it.

    Edit: I also never found grease in bottom of a pellet grill unless I spread food past drip tray or the drain had clogged. Grease under the drip pan gets cleaned ASAP, to avoid grease fires.
    Last edited by glitchy; July 23, 2021, 08:04 AM.

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      #3
      That old advice about only cleaning the part that touches food on a smoker is rubbish. All of the big names in BBQ (Franklin, etc) cook on clean smokers, and they clean them regularly. You don't want rancid grease in the bottom of any cooker, whether it's an offset of a pellet smoker. I have an offset, and part of my routine (annual or semi annual) maintenance involves hosing or pressure washing the inside of the smoker, brushing away any accumulation inside the smokestack, and degreasing with dish soap for the most part. I then run a few chimneys of charcoal to dry things back out before covering it up. In between that, I try to line the bottom with heavy duty foil with a hole poked where the grease drain is, so that clean up is minimized.

      On your RT-680, I would think that MOST of the grease hits the grease drip tray, and is funneled by that into an external grease collection bucket that you empty regularly. So I would think that grease accumulation should be minimal in the body of the cooker itself. You could cover your drip pan with foil if you want to make cleanup easy, or at the very least, I think I would scrape the drip pan down with a plastic putty knife or some other non-scratching tool on occasion, as well as any areas that get buildup.

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        #4
        I follow the manufacturer's directions on my Traeger.

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        • treesmacker
          treesmacker commented
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          What? Who does that! 🙄

        • bbqLuv
          bbqLuv commented
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          Youtuber's
          You don't think I can read and write do you?

        #5
        Right or wrong, this is how I do it. The drip pan on my DLX24 is wrapped in foil. When it's time to chance the foil, I pull the grates, drip pan, and heat deflector all out. the inside gets a scraped down with a 6" drywall taping knife. Paying close attention to the area where the chimney attaches, and the grease gutter. All the large and sticky chunks get removed with the drywall knife, and the rest gets sucked out with the shop vac. New foil goes on the drip pan, and everything gets put back to be ready for the next cook. All told, the entire process takes no more than ten minuets.

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