MAK FAQs

Have a questions about our grills or features?  Just ask!

 

Where can I find an authorized MAK Dealer? 

Try our dealer locator on our website at: https://www.makgrills.com/mak-distributors/  to find your local MAK dealer.  We highly encourage our customers to support their local economy by doing business locally.  However, if there is no MAK dealer near you, we do have two internet retailers, Big Poppa Smokers and The Yard and Pool Company. 

 

Can I purchase a grill directly from MAK Grills?  

Yes, however, we do have a $100 shipping charge for the continental US, and encourage you to seek out a dealer in your area. 

In addition to sourcing our materials domestically, part of our “American Made” commitment is encouraging owners to support their local economies as much as possible.    

 

How do I become an authorized MAK Dealer?        

Have a LACK of MAK in your area?  Want to represent the best pellet grill on the planet? Fill out the form on our website and tell us a little about your business at:

https://www.makgrills.com/become-a-dealer/

 

How do I contact MAK Customer Service?  

Either email us at support@makgrills.com , or call us 9am-5pm, Pacific Time, Monday-Friday at 503-623-1234. 

 

Do you have a Military Discount?

 In order to not undermine our dealers, we don’t do any type of discounting.  We highly value the service and sacrifice of our country’s military personnel, and give our support in other meaningful ways— by hiring veterans, participating in local military events, and contributing to charities and fundraisers. 

 

How do I learn more about grilling/barbequing/smoking?

We have some introductory videos you might find helpful on our website HERE

There are also several fantastic online forums that have a wealth of knowledge, recipes, and a dedicated MAK section for help and hints:

www.letstalkbbq.com

www.pelletsmoking.com  (powered by Big Poppa Smokers)

www.pelletheads.com/

The Amazing Ribs website also is a must-visit to learn more about the science behind outdoor cooking :  http://amazingribs.com/

 

What is the difference between direct and indirect cooking? 

Indirect cooking is where the air and heat circulate around the food, slowly cooking it evenly on all sides—sometimes known as convection cooking.

Direct cooking is where the food surface is exposed to direct heat, which allows for searing the outside of the food. 

Check out some of the websites listed above for more detailed information!

 

Can I sear a steak on a MAK? 

Yes!  With our Flame Zone direct heat (standard on the 2 Star General and available as an accessory on the 1 Star General), you can get perfectly seared steaks, chops, burgers, and vegetables.  We also have our Searing Grate accessory available for both the 1 and 2 Star Generals to further enhance those lovely steak-house sear marks some people love. 

 

Should I line my grease tray with aluminum foil? 

This is more of a personal preference for people—some feel cleanup is easier with their grease pans lined with foil, others find cleaning simpler without messing with foil.  If you DO foil, you want to make sure that you’re not blocking any air flow in the grill, and also that the foil allows the grease to flow freely into the grease runoff area. 

If you are foiling over your Flame Zone area, be sure to contour the foil to the dimples, then poke a hole in each dimple to allow for the direct heat to pass through.  

Should I preheat my grill?

Yes.  Preheating the grill (always with the lid down) allows all of the steel to come up to temperature, and will help with more even cooking.  When you place cold food on the grill, it acts as a heat sink, and having the grill preheated will help balance out the potential temperature swings.

If you are cold smoking items such as cheese, it’s just fine to put the items in the smoker as you start it up to get the most smoke without heat as possible.

 

Can I use my grill in another country?

 The electrical system in the MAK is not compatible with countries outside of North America.  

 

Does the grill require assembly?

Our grills do require assembly.  You can see our user manuals for assembly details on our website at: https://www.makgrills.com/support/

The 1 Star General assembly takes approximately 20-30 minutes, and the 2 Star General assembly takes 60-90.  Both require two people to help lift the grill after installing the legs. 

 

How often should I clean my grill?

You can find the full recommended cleaning schedule in your owner’s manual, but here are a few quick tips for keeping your grill running smoothly:

Empty your firepot every 3-5 uses.  (The residual ash will need to be dumped out to avoid having the ash cover the igniter and interfere with the pellets catching fire.)

Scrub your thermocouple with a bit of steel wool (until it is shiny) every couple of weeks.

Clean out all of your vents & grease chute at least 2-3 times per year, to keep the air flowing freely.

 Keep an eye on your grease bucket or grease drawer to make sure they don’t overflow.

 

How do I clean my grill?  

 Your owner’s manual has detailed cleaning schedule, and we also have a handy printout here:

 2 Star Cleaning Schedule 

1 Star Cleaning Schedule

 

Do I need to cover my grill?  

We do recommend keeping the grill covered to help avoid the pellets absorbing moisture from the air, as well as to protect the grill’s surface.

 

Can I clean the interior components of my grill in a self-cleaning oven?

Yes, the heavy duty stainless steel components can be cleaned in a self-cleaning oven cycle to help remove buildup.  

 

Can I clean the interior components of my grill in a dishwasher?

You CAN use a dishwasher for the grill components such as grates, etc. but we don’t recommend it, as the cooking grease from the items can gunk up your dishwasher. 

 

Should I put oil on my cooking grates? 

Yes, wiping or spraying some oil on your grates can help prevent your food from sticking.  Another option is putting the oil directly on the surface of the food, which can prevent sticking even better than putting it on the grates.  

 

Should I have my lid open or closed while I am cooking?

You should always have your lid closed unless you are actively flipping or arranging the food on the grill grates.  This includes during start-up.  Keeping the lid closed allows for the grill to maintain the most constant temperature, which means more evenly cooked food!

 

Do I need to defrost food before putting on the MAK? 

You will get the most even cooking if you thaw food before putting on the grill.  If you’re in a pinch, it is possible to cook frozen meat, but plan on it taking a good bit longer than thawed food. 

 

Can I use an extension cord with my grill? 

While plugging directly into a GFCI outlet is always best, you can use an extension cord to plug in your MAK if needed.   Make sure it is a GROUNDED (3prong) cord, and use the shortest cord possible. A 12 or 10 gauge extension cord is the best choice to use.

 

How does the ignition sequence work?

Your Pellet Boss controller is programmed to get your grill up and going as quickly and efficiently as possible. When you turn the grill on, regardless of what temperature you set it to, the Pellet Boss will immediately go into “Ignition mode”.   This sequence will turn the fan on, turn the auger for 2 minutes to dump pellets into your firepot, and turn the igniter on to light the pellets.  The auger then stops for four minutes to allow the fire to get going without smothering it with pellets. 

The grill will continue this process until the grill gets up to 165° (or 50° above ambient temperature, depending on which firmware version is on your Pellet Boss) which ensures the fire is established, then will turn the igniter off, and automatically switch into “Grill” mode, and continue to your set point temperature.   

If the grill fails to reach 165° (or 50° above ambient temperature), it will attempt another ignition cycle.  After three ignition cycles, if the grill fails to reach adequate temperature, the Pellet Boss will alarm and display “Flame out, check firepot, check hopper.”  See the FAQ answer regarding this alarm for more information. 

Remember: The ignition sequence is set up to start your grill as fast and reliably as possible—trying to bypass or jumpstart this sequence by turning the grill off and on will not make the grill light faster, and can cause undesirable effects.  

 

 

What is the thermocouple, and how does it work?

The thermocouple is the upright probe located in the back left inside of your MAK.   This sensor continually reads the ambient grill temperature and feeds that information back to the Pellet Boss.  This constant feedback is what allows the MAK to keep such steady temperatures.  If the thermocouple senses the temperature has dropped, the Pellet Boss turns on the auger to put more pellets into the fire and raise the temperature. Likewise, if the temperature is reading over your set point, the grill will slow down the rate of pellets to allow the temperature to remain at your set point. 

Remember that the thermocouple reads the overall ambient temperature of the grill. It is located where it is because that location gives the best accuracy for overall grill temperature, which ensures the grill is running at the temperature you set.

However, if you have the Flame Zone covers removed for direct heat searing, the temperature on the grates will be much higher than what the Pellet Boss is registering.  

SHOULD YOUR THERMOCOUPLE FAIL: In the unlikely event that your thermocouple has failed (and you’ve ensured that it is plugged in firmly on the top right corner on the back of the Pellet Boss), we do have a workaround that will bypass the thermocouple and allow you to use your grill, called MANUAL MODE.  

To enable MANUAL MODE, press and hold the STAR button until MANUAL MODE is displayed.  Press the STAR button again, and the word SMOKE will begin flashing.  Use the UP or DOWN arrows to select SMOKE (175°), LOW (225°), MEDIUM (275°), MEDHIGH (350°), HIGH (450°+).  Press the STAR button again to lock in your selected cooking temperature.  The settling selected will stop flashing, and the grill will adjust to the new set temperature.  Note: Because there is no working thermocouple to measure the temperature, the screen will not show the grill temp.   

 

What are the Manual Lighting Directions?

 Should your igniter fail, it is still possible to use the grill until you can get a replacement. 

  • If you are on version 3.0+, you can simply turn the igniter OFF (follow the directions in the owner’s manual).
  • If you are on a previous firmware version (2.9 or below):
    • Unplug the grill from the power source.
    • Remove fan/access panel on the left side of the grill (the fan panel and pellet hopper lid are connected together on some 2 Star grills)
    • Unplug the igniter from the back of the Pellet Boss® control board. Make sure that the plug end is out of the way of the fan blades. (The igniter is the red plug on the back of your Pellet Boss)
    • Re-attach the fan/access panel and secure.
  • With a clean firepot, add a small handful of un-burnt pellets to the firepot
  • Add 2 Tablespoons of either Alcohol Fire Gel or Hand Sanitizer to the pellets. Mix in with pellets.
  • Drop a lit match into the firepot.
  • Wait a few minutes and allow the fire in the firepot to become established.
  • Replace interior components—making sure you don’t get burnt.
  • Turn on grill and cook as normal.

 

My GFCI is tripping—what is going on?

This is usually an indication that your igniter is beginning to fail.  The GFCI helps protect the Pellet Boss from electrical overload.  If it senses a surge in electricity, it will trip and avoid damaging the board.

If your GFCI trips, unplug or turn off the igniter, press the reset button on your outlet, and turn the grill on again.  If the grill runs without tripping the outlet again, you have confirmed that it is the igniter causing the overload.  Please see the manual lighting instructions to use the grill listed above, and contact us or your local dealer for a replacement igniter. 

 

My fuse blew—what do I do?

The fuse is on the Pellet Boss to protect the computer components from electrical overload.  If you are plugged into a GFCI outlet, the outlet would trip before the fuse blows.  However, if you are not plugged into a GFCI, the fuse is the next line of defense and will blow to keep the board from overloading.  If your fuse blows, the screen will still light up, but the igniter, fan and auger will not run.

The igniter failing is typically the cause for a blown fuse, and you can confirm that by unplugging or turning off the igniter, putting in a new fuse (there is a spare in the back of your manual, or you can use  a 2 amp fast blow fuse that is the same size and diameter), and restarting your grill.   If the fuse does not blow with the igniter unplugged/off, that confirms the igniter has failed.  Please see the manual lighting instructions for using your grill, and contact us for a replacement igniter.

If the fuse blows even after the igniter is unplugged, please contact us for further troubleshooting. 

 

My grill won’t light—what do I do?

First, ensure that your grill is plugged in, and that the GFCI has not tripped. 

Next, empty out your firepot to ensure that there is no ash buildup and try lighting the grill again.   

Confirm that the fan and auger are running when you turn the grill on (if the fan and auger aren’t working, see above FAQ answer regarding a blown fuse.)

If the fan and auger are both running, to test if the igniter is heating up, empty your firepot and try placing a small square of tissue paper over the igniter to see if it is working (paper should light quickly).   If the paper does not light, check to make sure the igniter is plugged firmly into the back of the Pellet Boss Controller.  If igniter is still not working, see the “manual lighting” directions above, and contact us for a replacement.

If the igniter IS heating up, but the grill won’t get out of ignition mode, make sure that you’ve cleaned your thermocouple, all vents (some grills will require you remove the wind baffle at the back of the grill), grease chute, and ensure that you don’t have foil blocking any of the air vents.  Try using a new bag of pellets– pellets can absorb ambient moisture from the air, which will prevent them from burning properly.  

If grill still won’t light after thoroughly cleaning the grill and trying new pellets, contact us for further support.

 

My fan isn’t spinning, what do I do?

Your fan should be running any time the grill is turned on.  If it is not, unplug the grill and take the side fan panel off of the grill. First check to make sure the fan cord (labeled) is plugged firmly into the blue receptacle on the back of the board, labelled “Fan”. 

Try and spin the fan with your hand to make sure there is no debris keeping it from spinning.  Clear out any matter that may prevent it from spinning freely.

If the fan blades are clear of any obstruction, next check the fuse on your Pellet Boss board to see if it has blown.  If the fuse blows, the screen will still light up, but the fan, auger, and igniter will not work.  If the fuse is blown, see FAQ answer above regarding a blown fuse. 

If the fuse is still intact, and the fan is not running, please contact us for further troubleshooting. 

 

My auger isn’t turning– what do I do?

The auger does not turn continuously unless you are grilling at high temperatures.  During the ignition sequence, it will run for approximately 2 minutes, then turn off to allow the fire to become established.  A small “A” will appear on the Pellet Boss screen any time the auger is actively turning, which will vary depending on your set point temperature.

If the auger is not turning at all, take the side fan panel off of your grill and ensure that the Auger wire is plugged into the white receptacle on the back of the board, labelled “auger”.   Also check to make sure the fuse is intact. (When the fuse blows, the board will still light up, but the igniter, fan, and auger will not function. See the FAQ for a blown fuse above.)  

If it is plugged in firmly, the fuse is OK, and the auger still will not turn, empty your pellet hopper.  Check to see if the pellets have been exposed to any moisture. If they have, see the next FAQ answer below for how to clear the jam. 

If pellets are dry, check the auger for any foreign materials (rocks, etc.) that may be preventing the auger from turning. (This is why you never want to put pellets that have spilled on the ground back into the hopper!) 

If auger still won’t turn, contact us for further troubleshooting. 

 

My auger is jammed with pellets—what do I do?

BBQ wood pellets are nothing more than compressed hardwood sawdust that is extruded into a pellet shape. If the pellets absorb moisture (either from rain or ambient moisture in the air) they break back down into sawdust and swell with the moisture.  This creates an almost cement-like mess, which takes a good bit of work to clear out.  This is why we recommend that if you are not using your grill for 1-2 weeks or more, especially during rainy weather, you empty your hopper and burn through whatever pellets are in the auger tube. 

Should your auger tube get jammed with decomposed pellets:

Clearing an Auger Jam Instructions

I can’t see my display very well—what can I do?

            If the display is getting difficult to read, you can adjust the contrast of the screen.  (If it’s especially difficult to read, try looking at an angle from the top down to be able to follow these directions.)

  • Turn the grill on.
  • Press and hold the UP button on the Pellet Boss. A small lock icon will appear; continue to keep the UP arrow pressed until the screen displays “MAKGRILL Ver.-3.0 (your MAK firmware version could be from 1.2 up to 3.0 or above) This will take about 10-15 seconds.
  • Let go of the UP button, and press the RIGHT button ONE time.
  • Press the STAR button to get the contrast number flashing.
  • Press the UP button to adjust the contrast setting number brighter, or press the DOWN button to adjust the contrast to be more dim.   Press the button a single time each number you change, rather than holding the button down continuously.  
  • Once you are able to read the display clearly, press the STAR button once to lock in the contrast setting.
  • Press and hold the UP button until the display returns to SETPOINT

 

If this fails to alleviate the problem, contact us and we can provide further support.

 

I am seeing a bunch of smoke coming from my grill—what is going on?

Do remember that your MAK is a smoking machine—for some just getting introduced to pellet smoking, it can be a surprising amount of smoke compared to what they’re used to. Even if you set the grill to “HIGH” right off the bat, it’s going to smoke until it reaches the higher temperatures.

If you are seeing an unusually large volume of white smoke coming from your grill shortly after startup, the firepot is likely too full of ash and pellets, and the fire is struggling to ignite properly.  If this happens, the best thing to do is turn the grill off, allow it to cool down, dump out the firepot, and clean all the vents before starting the grill again. 

 

My grill made a loud BANG noise—what happened?

Though rare, this can happen on your MAK grill under certain circumstances. Typically this situation occurs when the firepot becomes overloaded with pellets or ash, and the fire does not get sufficient oxygen.

If the firepot is overfilled with ash and pellets, the igniter will have difficulty lighting the pellets properly.  The igniter gets the pellets smoldering, but cannot get enough oxygen to burn due to the excessive ash or pellets. While the pellets smolder, they create an excessive amount of white smoke, then when the pellets do light, they do so all at once, and cause a loud “pop” or “bang”. 

This happens most often when the firepot is not emptied frequently enough, or when the pellets have absorbed moisture and aren’t burning efficiently.  Excessive ash covers the igniter, and does not allow the igniter to light the pellets as it should.  Make sure to dump your firepot ash every 3-5 cooks.  MAKs have a removable firepot to make this step as easy as possible. 

This situation can also happen if the grill is turned off, then turned back on again during the ignition cycle. When the grill is re-started, more pellets are fed into the firepot, leading to an over-filled firepot.  The ignition sequence is programmed to start your grill as fast and reliably as possible—trying to bypass or jumpstart this sequence by turning the grill off and on will not make the grill light faster, and can cause undesirable effects.  

If you do experience excessive white smoke and a loud bang: turn the grill off, open the lid and allow it to cool down, empty the firepot out completely, ensure your vents and grease chute are free of buildup, then turn the grill on again and allow it to run as normal. 

 

What is the “Hopper Open” Error? 

We have a safety feature on our new grills that causes the auger to stop turning anytime the hopper lid is opened.   There is a small magnetic sensor on the hopper lid and grill body that alert the Pellet Boss when they are moved away from each other (as when you open the lid).  If you are getting a “Hopper Open” error while the lid is closed, it is possible the magnets are not making a good connection.  Check to see if the lid has been bent or twisted in any way, preventing the magnet from making a good connection.  

 

What is the Fire Alarm? 

The Pellet Boss is programmed to alert you if your temperature goes 100° or more above your set point for more than one minute (or if it reads above 600° while set to HIGH).   While food flare ups or grease fires are rare (we govern our grills out at 500° to help minimize them happening), if you cook very greasy food at a low temperature, then turn the grill up quickly, it IS possible, and your grill would alert you that the temperature has risen above what it should be.

If this happens, to quiet the alarm, press any button on the Pellet Boss.  Leave the lid closed, and unplug the grill from the wall.  Allow enough time for the flareup to die down before opening your lid.   Once any flareups have burned down, you may plug the grill back in and resume cooking.

Cleaning the inside of the grill regularly will help minimize the chance of getting a flare up. 

 

Flame out Alarm: My grill display says “Flame Out, Check Firepot & Hopper”

This alarm sounds when the grill senses that the flame has gone out.

This can happen if the grill has run out of pellets during a cook.  Always check to make sure your hopper has fresh, dry pellets when you begin a cook. 

It can also happen during the ignition sequence if the grill fails to reach the temperature threshold to move the grill from ‘igniting’ to ‘grilling’ mode.  The ignition sequence runs for 6 minutes, and if the temperature does not reach 165° (or 50° above the ambient temperature) during that time, it will go back into igniting mode (up to three cycles) to attempt to get the grill up to temperature.  If it cannot reach the required temperature after three cycles, the grill will alarm and display “Flame out, check firepot & hopper”.  

If this alarm happens when the hopper has pellets in it:  Check your firepot to make sure it has not overflowed, and empty any ash & pellets out of the firepot. Then turn the grill on with the insides removed so you can watch the auger.  Ensure that the auger is pushing pellets into the firepot, and that the fan is running.  If pellets are moving and the fan is running, but no fire will start, try placing a small piece of tissue onto the igniter while the grill it turned on.  If the tissue lights, but the pellets won’t maintain a fire, it’s likely the pellets have absorbed moisture;  swap the pellets for a new dry bag and try again.   If the tissue will NOT light, it’s likely the igniter has failed, and you can contact us for a replacement.   

*Be aware that the first time running the grill, or if you’ve run out of pellets, it will take a longer time to start and can trigger this alarm, as the pellets have to work their way all the way through the emptied auger chamber.  If you get the alarm in these cases, simply turn the grill off, and turn it back on again. 

 

My grill won’t get as hot as it used to– what do I do?

There are several reasons why this might be happening:

  • Dirty Thermocouple (located in the back left-hand corner of the main cooking chamber). Take a piece of moistened steel wool and clean the thermocouple all the way around, up and down, so that it looks brand new.
  • Clogged exhaust louvers/vents: Remove the interior baffle plate at the back of the cooking chamber, and clean the exhaust vents on the back wall of the cooking chamber.  If you have a Two Star grill, also clean the exterior louvers that go into and out of the Warmer/Smoker Box.
  • Clogged grease chute: If you have a grill style with the exterior grease bucket, ensure that the grease chute is not clogged with grease and debris.
  • Damp pellets: If pellets have absorbed some moisture, they will not burn as hot.  Try a fresh bag of pellets.  Bags of pellets are NOT airtight, and can still absorb ambient moisture over time. 
  • Try changing the brand and/or variety of pellets you are using. Fruit wood and Alder pellets burn at lower BTUs; Hickory, Oak, and Mesquite pellets burn the hottest.

 

My grill does not seem to be generating as much smoke as before—what do I do?

 First, remember that maximum smoke is generated at temperatures below 250°F.   

Make sure your vents, grease chute, and thermocouple are all clean (see previous question for more detail).  Also make sure that if you’ve foiled the grease pan, there is no foil blocking any of the air vents on the grease tray. Since airflow is critical in smoke and heat generation, you want to make sure there’s nothing obstructing the airflow.

Some types of pellets create more smoke than others (just like some types are meant for creating higher heats), so try using a different variety of pellets. 

 

What are the minimum and maximum temperatures I can get on the MAK?

The SMOKE setting on your Pellet Boss will vacillate between 170-190°F to create the maximum amount of smoke possible. On HIGH, the auger will turn continually, and can reach up to 500°F, depending on outside temperature, variety of pellets being used, and altitude.  (To reduce the chance of grease fires, the MAK is regulated to not go above 500°F).     

Remember that the temperature at the grate level will be considerably higher if you have the Flame Zone uncovered—so while your grill might read 450°, the temperature where your steak is searing will be much hotter. 

 

What if I need service on my MAK?

We designed our grills so that anyone can repair their MAK without specialized training or equipment. We’ve also produced a number of technical/service videos with step-by-step instructions, showing you how to repair your MAK. We’re also just a phone call or email away for any additional support you might need. 503-623-1234,  or support@makgrills.com

 

Do I have to use MAK brand pellets?

Nope!  You can use any brand of hardwood barbecue pellet in your MAK Grill.   Our All-Star Hazelnut blend is a nice all-purpose blend that uses the hazelnut wood that is prevalent in the Pacific Northwest where we hail from, but you are welcome to use any barbecue grade pellet that you enjoy best. 

We do recommend buying just a bag or two of any new pellet that you’re trying before loading up on tons of  them—some brands of  pellets create more ash than others (which necessitates more frequent fire-pot cleaning), some are formulated for greater heat production vs. greater smoke production, and you’ll want to experiment with what flavors you like best. 

 

Fuel pellets are cheaper—can I use those instead? 

No.  Fuel pellets often made from scrap woods, which could have paint, stain, or other contaminants that are not healthy for you (not to mention would taste just awful when they burn!).  We always recommend that you use only hardwood barbecue pellets, which are considered food grade pellets. 

 

Does my MAK come with a warranty?

Yes.  Each new MAK Grill is covered with a 3 year warranty.  You can find the full warranty information on our website at:    

https://www.makgrills.com/why-mak-grills/3-year-warranty/

If you have purchased your grill used, or a burn unit from one of our dealers, we will still be happy to provide phone support and technical help, but the full warranty is not transferable.  Repair parts, if needed, will need to be purchased.