Weber Charcoal Grill Not Getting Hot Enough

Is your Weber charcoal grill not getting hot enough? We’ll look at all possible causes along with their many solutions. These will fix any temperature issue so you can follow your grilling recipes’ temps and times properly. We’ll look at charcoal, venting, lighting, techniques, expert hot tips, and even cleaning for interferences. Keep reading to see all answers to “Why is my charcoal grill not getting hot?” Also, this is a part of our Food Equipment and Tools category and our Grilling collection. Also, it’s listed in our “Grilling on Charcoal Guide: How To Grill Better“.

Introduction: Why Is My Weber Charcoal Grill Not Getting Hot Enough?

Overall, we’ll uncover all known answers to your question of “Why is my Weber charcoal grill not getting hot enough?” This will involve a lot of information and tips starting with the fuel source itself, i.e., the Charcoal. We’ll also look at venting, lighting, charcoal arrangement, preheating, covers, residue, expert tips, and even the outdoor environment. I did mention we’d cover ALL fixes surrounding this problem. Along this journey, you’ll probably discover it’s more than one issue to deal with so, keep reading.

Understand the Core Problem of Your Weber Charcoal Grill Not Getting Hot Enough

Basically, charcoal grilling is nothing more than cooking food near or over hot coals. However, because there are so many creative methods of doing this, there are more ways for keeping hot coals to fail. Because of this, there are more things to look at doing to make sure you have hot charcoal every single time. Once you get the hang of it, following this guide, you’ll react and perform naturally to prevent your Weber charcoal grill not getting hot enough.

So, the core problem is that we do different things depending on what we’re grilling. In other words, we automatically change how we cook on the grill with different foods. For example, we don’t grill shish kabobs the same way we cook hamburgers, hot dogs, or especially pulled pork.

4 Factors That Change How You’ll Fix Your Weber Charcoal Grill Not Getting Hot Enough

There are the four things that change every single charcoal grilling session. Those aspects that are different every grilling session are:

  1. Food items we decide to cook are different
  2. Grilling methods to cook those food items are varied
  3. The tasks we have to perform while grilling differ
  4. Outdoor scenarios change, like wind and weather

And, each of these aspects shown in the list above have several smaller listed things within each. So, let’s look at some of those things we do differently each time we have a grilling session. These are things we have to do; however, they sometimes cause heat to increase yet sometimes to decrease.

Recognize These Changes and Differences for Charcoal Grilling Sessions

For impact on getting hot charcoal or keeping hot charcoal, look at this list of grilling methods and tasks. However, only some of these are used for each charcoal grilling session. Yet, all of them are involved with fixing issues of your Weber charcoal grill not getting hot enough.

  • Using the type of charcoal
  • Planning the charcoal arrangement
  • Lighting the charcoal
  • Preheating charcoal grill
  • Cooking over direct heat
  • Cooking using indirect heat
  • Covering or partially covering the grill while cooking
  • Grilling using a rotisserie
  • Opening the grill’s lid when …
    • checking the food
    • turning the food over
    • adding more charcoal
  • Using your Weber charcoal grill as a smoker
  • Putting out flareups
  • Adding water to drip pan
  • Adjusting vents

List of Multiple Techniques on 2 Levels to Fix Your Weber Charcoal Grill Not Getting Hot Enough

Multiple techniques can ensure you resolve your question of “Why is my charcoal grill not getting hot?”. You can multi-task and operate on two action levels to make your charcoal grill burn hotter. Also, each of these 2 levels involve different actions to take. The first level involves proactive tasks and planning several actions to take before any cooking. However, the second level is being reactive and performing tasks and actions in response to negative events as they occur. Finally, both involve multiple techniques.

1. Proactive Actions to avoid your Weber charcoal grill not getting hot enough

Plan and know the steps you will take throughout the grilling process. These will involve the following areas. Also, some are covered in this article in more detail.

  • Buying a good burning charcoal
  • Proper storage of charcoal
  • Good arrangement of charcoal for your particular cooking session
  • Properly lighting the charcoal
  • Correctly preheating the grill
  • Using the grill lid for preheating
  • Opened venting initially; knowing when to reduce venting later
  • Plan timing of refilling by adding more charcoal, if known it will be needed
  • Accommodate for the weather in advance
  • Carry out good grill maintenance for good cooking results and reliability

2. Reactive Actions to fix your Weber charcoal grill not getting hot enough

Take actions based on observed temperature changes or unplanned occurrences. These are immediate fixes that can be used. Some are explained in this article in more detail.

  • Opening up the vents
  • Adding more charcoal, lit or unlit
  • Using the grill lid
  • Change the charcoal arrangement
  • If using indirect heat, switch to direct heat
  • Adjusting further for current weather

Hot Tip 1. Start With Selecting a Good Charcoal Type for Your Weber Grill

There are pros and cons about selecting from the different types of charcoal available for grilling. I’ve used many types of briquettes and lump charcoal over the decades. Some of those times involved my budget telling me which charcoal to buy. In choosing which type of briquettes or lump charcoal to get, read my article “Briquettes vs Lump Charcoal“. It might give you more insight for that decision.

Pellets, used in pellet grills, don’t fall under the category of charcoal. However, there are pellet combo grills that permit the use of either pellets or charcoal.

The Importance of Choosing Proper Charcoal Types

Not all charcoal is the same. Some will have additives included to help it last longer or to light easier, like charcoal briquettes. Other types of charcoal will burn hotter and cleaner and are closer to actual wood, like lump charcoal. Selecting the right charcoal is important for a hot and optimal grilling experience. Here are some good ideas to consider.

Option To Enhance The Hotter Charcoal

If you avoided getting a hotter burning or easier to light charcoal because of grilling flavor, here are some options to consider to handle that. You might want to enhance your charcoal selection with some supplemental additions. For a more smoky flavor, try adding some wood chips. For a special treat, consider adding mesquite or getting mesquite briquettes. There are a lot of choices to choose from when you want to change it up a bit.

Hot Tip 2. Store Your Charcoal To Stay Dry

A popular cause of charcoal not lighting or burning well is it has too high of a moisture content. Here a a few short but important tips about keeping all charcoal dry.

  • Store bags of charcoal in a more dry location such as a garage or in a good storage bin or shed.
  • Also, keep any opened charcoal bag rolled up tight and closed to minimize air.
  • As soon as you’re done grilling, close up all vents, put the grill lid on (vent closed) snug. This keeps out humidity and saves unused charcoal for the next session.
Charcoal Bag Stored in a Dry Storage Bin

Store bags of charcoal in a dry location such as a good storage bin, shed, or garage.

Hot Tip 3. Save Money – When To Buy Charcoal on Sale

You can save a lot of money on charcoal if you grill often. I buy charcoal two times a year and when it’s on sale everywhere. The best times I’ve found are:

  • During early Spring, usually lasts several weeks
  • At least 2 weeks before a summer national holiday, like July 4th.
  • This is also when I stock up on BBQ Sauce and when I would buy a grill on sale
  • Near the end of summer is when I see grilling accessories or tools go on sale for clearances.
  • Tip: Don’t forget to have available dry space for storing bulk charcoal.
  • Don’t buy instant light or fast lighting charcoal in bulk. I’ve experienced they only light quick in the first 3 months in storage.

Hot Tip 4. Light Your Charcoal Correctly and Fully

Lighting Charcoal Correctly Using Lighter Fluid

The use of lighter fluid during grilling is popular and the easiest method of lighting charcoal. It provides the fastest way to light charcoal yet, with experience, you can light charcoal with other methods as well. For using lighter fluid, follow the instructions that come with your lighter fluid. The following are successful steps I used before I stopped using it many years ago:

  1. I removed the top grilling grate and poured the charcoal briquettes in a mound.
  2. Then, I squirt the charcoal pile with lighter fluid, following the directions on the bottle. For about about 40-60 briquettes, I move the bottle around the pile while squirting over all briquettes that are exposed, for about 5 to 7 seconds total.
  3. Then, I wait one to two minutes.
  4. I then light it, and I continue to leave the grill’s lid off.
  5. After the flame dies down in a few minutes, I ensure all the vents are open and I cover the grill to let more of the coals to catch. That might be about 5 to 10 more minutes.
    • SAFETY TIP: I absolutely never squirt lighter fluid on or near hot coals!
  6. Then, the grill lid comes off, after at least about half of the coals appear hot and red.
  7. I then safely disperse the hot coals to the desired coverage, and return the top grilling grate back onto the grill.

Light charcoal 1-2 minutes after applying lighter fluid. It needs to be absorbed a bit.

Properly Lighting Charcoal 2 Minutes After Applying Lighter Fluid

Now, if you’re interested, here’s a good article on “How to Start a Charcoal Grill without lighter fluid“.

Lighting Charcoal Using Electric Heat Element Starter

Follow the directions that came with your electric starter. This is just a reference. Place a single layer of charcoal down on the grill grate where charcoal goes. Then, lay the electric heat element starter on top of that. Ensure the handle is not on top of any charcoal. Then, pile charcoal on top of the electric starter. Be certain the handle has no charcoal around it. Plug in the element starter. It might take anywhere from 5 to 25 minutes for the coals to show being lit. When you see some white edges on many of the coals, unplug and remove the electric starter.

Using a Chimney Starter for Lighting Charcoal

Follow the directions that came with your chimney starter. This is only a reference. This is all done on the grilling area where charcoal goes. Fill up your chimney starter with as much charcoal as you intend to use to get started. There is the raised empty space at the bottom of the chimney starter for placing your starting heat source. Here’s the Weber RapidFire Chimney Starter.

Weber Charcoal Chimney Starter Front View
Weber Charcoal Chimney Starter Front View
Weber Charcoal Chimney Starter Top View
Weber Charcoal Chimney Starter Top View

The starting heat source might be crumpled paper, a paraffin starter, or other small object starter. Some say to coat the bottom crumpled paper in a little cooking oil to burn longer. Others say to also add a crumpled paper on the top. Here’s an example of the Weber RapidFire Starter Packets source of initial starter heat. When ready, you light the starting heat source at the bottom. After several minutes, the charcoal becomes lit on the bottom portion. Continue to wait several more minutes (be patient) for that bottom charcoal to light up the remaining charcoal. Then, very carefully, you dump the chimney canister of hot charcoal into the area you wanted the hot charcoal to go.

Lighting Charcoal Properly Using The Weber Ignitor

If your Weber grill has the automatic self-ignitor, life is good. But, it’s easy to use it improperly and result in charcoal not well lit. Here’s an optimum manner to use it.

  1. Place both charcoal carriage bins (full of charcoal) over the area where the ignitor’s flame will be. Position both bins back-to-back, against their longer sides. Place them so the flame will hit between both bins in the middle.
  2. Then, ensure all vents are wide open.
  3. Keep the grill’s lid off, or parked on its holder.
  4. Turn the gas knob at least one full turn open (360 degrees). Press your ignitor button until it ignites.
  5. Wait a minimum of 5 minutes and a maximum of 10 minutes. When you see the bottom coals have some white edges and a little bit of red, that’s all you need. You can then turn off the gas to the ignitor.
  6. All the rest of the coals to fully light and the grill to preheat by placing the grill’s lid on the grill with its vent wide open.
  7. Wait about another 10 minutes. If the weather’s cold, you might need to wait a little longer. Then, when ready, you can leave, move, or dump the charcoal bins.
  8. Add more charcoal on top of the hot coals if desired.

Using the Weber self-ignitor to light charcoal. Follow this guide’s checklist for tasks & times to ensure getting fully lit, hot charcoal.

Starting the Weber Ignitor to Light Charcoal

Hot Tip 5. Arrange The Charcoal Correctly For Your Cooking Session

If you find your Weber charcoal grill not getting hot enough, it might be tied to the charcoal arrangement. Different arrangements, such as the “snake” method can make it harder to keep charcoal lit and hot during your grilling session. The simplest methods to arrange for maximum assuredness of getting and keeping hot are a single large charcoal pile or 2 smaller piles. Piles have the most coals together for supporting heat and are the best for adding more charcoal on top of adding more heat. So, why is my charcoal grill not getting hot can be due to improper charcoal arrangement. Using the Weber charcoal baskets (aka “Char-Baskets“) represents 2 small piles to light.

Hot Tip 6. How To Keep Charcoal Hot Using Weber Venting

Learning how to keep coals hot by adjusting venting in a charcoal grill is an art and an acquired skill. Some charcoal grills will have one or more vents on the grill lid and one or more vents on the sides or under the grill body. However, there are charcoal grills that have only one vent on the lid or one vent on the body. And I have actually seen some real cheap charcoal grills for sale that have zero vents! Weber grills are good about providing needed vents.

The idea of venting is that if you have only one vent, it’s your only way to control the overall temperature, beyond removing the lid or using it to cover. You can also use a grill thermometer to help monitor when to adjust vents for managing temperatures.

If you have venting for both your grill lid and the body, then you have more options. In that scenario, the lid is good for adding extra air for higher temps when the grill is covered. The body’s vents are good for maintaining temperature control.

You can be using the charcoal grill lid for hot charcoal maintaining but, mainly only if the cover lid has a vent. Give higher temperatures the air it needs by leaving the charcoal grill lid vent wide open. You’ll need to replace the charcoal more often but it does provide a hotter temperature. If you’re wanting to maintain a medium temperature, you can adjust the grill lid vent to be half open or 3/4 open.

Hot Tip 7. Locate Blockages Causing Weber Charcoal Grill Not Getting Hot Enough

1. Be Certain Vents Fully Open With Nothing Blocking to Prevent Weber Charcoal Grill Not Getting Hot Enough

Excessive residue can block your vents from fully opening causing the Weber charcoal grill not getting hot enough. Check all the vents and ensure they can fully open and don’t have any ashes or stuck charcoal bits in the way. Also, if you have the ash removal propellers at the bottom of the kettle, ensure they also don’t have residue buildup on them.

2. Empty the Ash Pot – It Can Block The Main Vent!

Also, empty out the ash bin or pot. The top of that bin has bent holes for air to reach up through the kettle’s bottom vents. If that ash bucket is full, it’s blocking air from getting up through those bottom vents. If that happens, your coals can die out caused by weber charcoal grill not getting hot enough.

3. Clean Off The Charcoal Grate

This is the least considered area of all grills. So, be sure you remove the top grilling grate and look at the charcoal grate where all the charcoal sits. Go ahead and remove all the bits of things you see there. You’ll be surprised to see things that were in the charcoal that didn’t burn or that fell down to this level. It might even be burned food. Also, use a grill brush and give a brief scrub to get rid of any residue that might be on that bottom grate.

4. Scrub The Top Grilling Grate

Heat will transfer better directly across the metal grill surface to the foods if it’s contact surface is more metal than food residue. So, before every cooking session, get in the habit of doing at least a quick brushing with a grill brush. Give a more thorough scrubbing for obvious baked on residue that resisted coming off.

5. Remove Heavy Residue From Kettle or Lid

The final neglected area to look at for causing your Weber charcoal grill not getting hot enough is the kettle and its lid. It’s something to look for about once a year. So, because it’s messy, plan it when can make some extra time for it. You can use Zep cleaner for this job. It will help in the cleaning process and removing old residue from the grill’s lid and its kettle. You’ll want to move the grill away from any nice area like patio, porch, or deck. If not feasible, prepare a tarp or something to catch or redirect the debris and messy water and detergent.

Hot Tip 8. How to Keep the Charcoal Grill Hot by Adding More Charcoal While Cooking

The best way of how to keep the charcoal grill hot is by adding more charcoal while cooking, whether it’s grilling or smoking. You might have a charcoal front panel door that leads to the charcoal tray for adding it there. Others might have the top grilling grate with hinged ends that lift up for adding charcoal. And still others might have the entire grilling grate hinged in the middle for lifting either half up for adding charcoal. Some charcoal grills even have a gravity feeding system for this.

Lifting Center Piece of Grill to Add Charcoal
Lifting Center Piece of Grill to Add Charcoal
Adding Lump Charcoal to Grill Center Opening
Adding Lump Charcoal to Grill Center Opening
Adding Charcoal Using Hinged Grill Openings
Adding Charcoal Using Hinged Grill Openings

Some Weber grills have a center piece of the top grill grate you can remove. Or, there might be two hinged sections on the top grill that lift up. And, if your charcoal is in the center or or under any hinged section, you can easily refill it. Regardless of how you are able to add it to your own grill, you’ll have to be aware of where you position your hot charcoal at the very start of grilling to allow for adding more later.

How Long Does Charcoal Stay Hot?

You’ll need to have an idea of how long does charcoal stay hot so you’ll know how often to add more charcoal or to check it. The two starting things to know is the overall cooking temperature for a particular grilling session and what type of charcoal you’re using. After that, you can control the rest of each grilling instance using the methods discussed further so, keep reading.

While all brands vary, here’s an idea of how long charcoal stays hot and lit. Charcoal briquettes will vary between 40-70 minutes. And hardwood lump charcoal will stay hot roughly about 60-120 minutes depending on the lump sizes.

Hot Tip 9. Adjust To Weather & Wind Scenarios

Weather such as wind, rain, sun, and cold can impact your Weber charcoal grill not getting hot enough. Here is a list of options to consider for all of these weather scenarios.

  • Consider relocating your grill. Examples are near a fence or wall; however, take safety into consideration in case of fire.
  • Another solid option is to provide some high overhead coverage such as a grill canopy or patio umbrella.
  • When icy cold, use much more than the usual charcoal amount. This will help compensate to keep charcoal hot. Also, consider readjusting the vents for more air. I’ve grilled at below freezing temps with no problem, using lump charcoal and using larger piles of it.
  • For colder temperatures, the overall grill getting hot enough might take longer to achieve so, allow for longer times for recipes to cook the same.
  • With high winds, anything igniting, like the Weber self-ignitor, might blow out. So, a canopy can help some. Another option for high winds is to move the grill temporarily near a fence or wall until it’s lit. A final option is to temporarily place something heavy next to the grill to help block some of the wind.
  • For mild rain that starts during a grilling session, there are several solutions. Compensate by covering the grill with its lid, open up the vents more, or add more charcoal.
  • When it’s very hot outside, you can close the vents a bit and manage the heat down so it won’t get too hot. For example, I’ll reduce the the Weber lid’s vent to be about 3/4 open.

Protect Your Weber Grill From The Weather

Lots of great outdoor backyard ideas are mentioned on exceptionally well. There were considerations to think about regarding the various ways of securing your grill from high winds, for example. And there are tons of other great articles, advice, and recipes on that site as well.

Hot Tip 10. Accessories To Help Your Weber Charcoal Grill Not Getting Hot Enough

This is just a simple list of accessories, tools, or cookware that can help manage your Weber charcoal grill not getting hot enough.

  • Grill scrubbing brush for removing residue for a hotter grill surface
  • Grill scraper for removing buildup from grill kettle and lid cover
  • Covering over the grill to protect against weather elements and reduce chance of rusting
  • Charcoal bag for keeping out excess moisture and for easier dispensing of charcoal
  • Grill thermometer for watch grill temperature during preheating and cooking sessions.
  • Meat thermometer, wireless, and/or fast read function. Wireless will help reduce times to remove the lid to check.
  • Chimney starter, electric element starter, or other starter types if you don’t have a built-in self-ignitor
  • Perforated grilling pans for well-vented grilling items that can’t go directly on the grill like veggies
  • Long armed heat tolerant grill gloves for moving hot grill grates and charcoal bins
  • Disposable drip pans for holding water and catching grease drippings
  • Long handled cooking utensils for safety; also usable for moving hot charcoal around
  • A grill canopy or other covering can reduce the chance of wind or other weather forces that impact getting or keeping hot charcoal.

Hot Tip 11. Cover Your Weber Grill Between Sessions

Even if you have a grill canopy, you’ll still need a good covering for your Weber grill. So, keep moisture OUT of your Weber grill! Even a small amount of grill moisture can keep your charcoal from burning hot. This is one of those forgotten causes of your Weber charcoal grill not getting hot enough.

If you protect your grill long term, you’ll reduce the chance of rusting and component failures. Also, if you start having rust issues, you’re less likely to have proper venting needed for managing hot coals consistently. If your grill cover is somewhat form fitted, you’ll have very good protection for your grill. Ensure it’s not too tight so that it has some ventilation to prevent moisture retention. Also, be sure it has heavy-duty and high-quality materials. I use the Jiesuo grill cover on my Weber. It’s very heavy duty, form fitted, yet it has enough looseness to allow moisture to escape and evaporate.

Changing Your Grill If Regular Weber Charcoal Grill Not Getting Hot Enough

Weber makes insulated grills (Kamado type) that hold higher heat and are going to be the more expensive, premium grills. The advantages are often that you can control the temperature better. You can also use even less charcoal as it holds heat better. Here’s where you can read more about the Weber Summit Kamado Grills. This is your final solution for more extreme hot temps to resolve your regular Weber charcoal grill not getting hot enough.

You might not want to pay a high price for a kettle or Kamado grill if it doesn’t have those premium thermal properties. There are unfortunately, some off brand makers that successfully sell them to unsuspecting buyers. However, if you’re getting a kettle style of grill that doesn’t have the premium pricing then, that’s perfectly acceptable, since it’s a very popular style.

The Green Egg Grill line of Kamado Grills became very popularized and perpetuated a kettle-shaped trend. They are among the best charcoal grills that can maintain good heat and provide a good method of adding more lump charcoal.

For the premium Kamado Grills or others, there are minimally desired levels of insulation properties that might include any good thermal material such as ceramic. Then the other property to consider is the thickness of that thermal material.

Conclusion of Fixing Your Weber Charcoal Grill Not Getting Hot Enough

Hotter grilling is achievable with the right charcoal, techniques, accessories, and maintenance. You’ve seen how important getting the right kind of charcoal is and you’ve seen how to select it. You’ve seen the things you can do proactively by planning ahead and reactively when you experience losing hot coals. Also, you’ve read long lists of things to look for to get you hotter coals. Finally, you were present with frequently used “Hot Tips” that can help you get or regain hot charcoal before and during cooking sessions.

So, what are you waiting for? Start by looking at what your grill venting obstructions you might have, what charcoal you’re using, and how you light your coals. Do your proactive techniques first and then plan a simple grilling session to use your reactive techniques learned from here. Share your experiences with your comments and via Social Media.

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