Addressing The 5 Most Common Kinks With Kamado!
So like it or not as some of you know and for those of you who don’t the kamado cooker as wonderful as I do believe it is has suffered for many years with a few glitches if I can call them that. It simply comes with the territory for these ceramic based vessels and although acceptable to some this may pose as a real irritation and deterrent to invest for others especially when you consider that the most common sizes of kamado cookers being large models sell for $800 plus as a minimum in North America. If I may suggest one bit of advice to potential investors, the benefits of these cookers, glitches and all, far out way any little re-occuring issue you may have with this bit or that bit, trust me.
So, what has been done to fix the problems and more importantly what are the issues you should be aware of before you commit to this wonderful cooking lifestyle? Well, first off and due to the fact that these vessels expand and contract when fired they all, within the $500-$1500 category have intendancy to fracture interior fire boxes and fire rings and all kamado’s to date that I have cooked with have had some kind of ceramic blemish either and usually on the interior of the vessel and in some cases the exterior as well exception to Komodo Kamado and BGE .
Don’t panic! Most if not all notable brands will guarantee a replacement part for you if the problem falls under their warranty replacement rules and regs and this also applies (in most cases but not all) for chips and ceramic blemishes. For the record, I have gone through a grand total of eight fire boxes and six fire rings in the last decade and all of my parts were replaced at no charge by all three manufactures. I’ll also point out that Big Green Egg are leading the charge at refining and improving their inner fire boxes by incorporating a pre-manufactured expansion crack in their fire boxes to hopefully achieve longer life span out of this particular inner component.
Secondly, the felt gaskets on the vast majority of these cookers but most commonly with the likes of BGE and Primo will give up the ghost on you, sooner than later. I will also point out and I get this from company sources that improvements have been made with the adhesive compounds used on the gaskets and certain companies like Kamado Joe and Saffire have actually been able to produce a thicker gasket which my testing thus far has proven to me to work much better.
For the record, thicker gaskets don’t mean better quality but the combination of thickness and adhesive compound does play a factor with the life spam of the gasket. GrillDome have one of the thinnest if not the thinnest felt like gaskets in category but due to the manufacturing process of plaining the lips to both the bases and lids of their cookers they guarantee their gaskets for FIVE YEARS! I’ll also add that due to this specific process of plaining, their cookers close perfectly and seal air in better than all of their competitors in category, hands down.
I have also come to the conclusion that the felt type gaskets used have to be “food grade” approved in order to easily sell and distribute the cookers to various markets especially the US. Hence they simply aren’t durable enough in their current state to take high heat or greater abuse and the result is a weaker product. There are many different options out there for you to improve this situation like “Nomex” by Dupont. It has a much higher heat threshold and is used in the production of fire suits and motor racing suits. Once applied with a gasket maker like “Permatex” which comes in a red tube at most hardware box retailers you are set!
You can also head to your local car/body shop and get fixed up with any number of much better quality gaskets that will fix the problem but be aware that none of the solutions I mention are food grade approved but that’s not the end of the world by a long shot, trust me. It will however save you lots of hassle without the worry or bother of replacing a problem with a problem.
Now, for those of us who live in climates where we see the mercury dipping and in some cases plummeting to temps of -30 and below like us crazy kanuks up here on our iceberg gasket freeze up can cause big and in some cases catastrophic results if our tempers get the better of us and we decide to pry our kamado’s open with a heavy tool of some kind, say a flat head screw driver or something! Bad move and in these cases you should just STOP! DROP! & don’t bother rolling but instead reach for a glass of vino or a cold beer or even a sifter of cognac and simply relax, take a few deep breathes and just chalk it up to learning the ways of the kamado.
Gasket freeze up is a drag and simple to solve by either keeping your kamado covered with any good quality vinyl cover which acts as a barrier from the wind and cold or better yet if you have the means to keep your cooker inside and are able to roll it out for winter cooking in colder climates then go for it! Personally I opt for the “shim” solution whereby I take three very thin layers of wood and place them under the lids of the kamado cookers that I worry might freeze tight in a deep freeze scenario and that’s it, problem solved.
On the topic of things freezing the bottom vent doors to these cookers can also cause a bit of a problem with ice build up and if this happens you can find yourself fighting to adjust the bottom vent door to get that much needed air draw. Once again, worry not and its nothing a bit of hot water can’t solve by gently pouring it over the vent door and bingo! The same thing can happen with excessive use with the cast iron topper of your kamado. The only difference on the top portion is the fact that you have grease and ice to deal with. I keep a small wire brush and vegetable oil handy all the time and both these things can and will help loosen a sticky topper in a jiffy.
Last but not least the temperature gauges! Now this is a critical piece of equipment that must work and they have been known to be less than reliable and perhaps a big reason why they only come with a 30 day guarantee is simply because no one really knows how long they’ll last. This coupled with the fact they are known to take in moisture is a pain!
Now once again and I get this feedback from solid sources and from what I hear much is being done to not only improve the durability but also the accuracy of these devices and I do believe its only a matter of time before we start seeing much better temp gauges hitting the market. To date, I have had and experienced solid results and life span with the likes of Kamado Joe, GrillDome, and Primo and the Komodo Kamado “Tel-Tru” proves to be best over all from both a reliability and durability stand point.
So there you have it my kamado grilling friends! Another post for the record books and I’m feeling an urge to start me a fire and get cooking for the rest of this fine day!
Until we meet again, feed all your fires!