View Full Version : UDS burning charcoal too fast -help

03-24-2013, 08:34 PM
Just finished my new UDS. It has a webber lid mod, two 3/4" ball valves on 24" risers, one 1" ball valve on a 18" riser. Charcoal basket is a 12x12, 6" high sides on 3 1/2 bolts for clearance. I made ribs yesterday and thought that it burned through a lot of charcoal, but didn't pay enough attention to how much I put in the basket. Today, I filled the basket with about 12 lbs and lit a half chimney of charcoal & dumped it on top. Temp was solid at 250 with just one 3/4 bal valve open. 6 hrs later temps started to drop, opened other ball valves. At 8 hrs temp dropped below 200. Took off brisket and looked at the basket. All the charcoal was gone, except for a hand full still burning. I have read that most can get 12-14 hrs of cook time on 12 lbs of charcoal. Any answers to what may be happening?

03-24-2013, 08:38 PM
What charcoal are you using. Have you calibrated the thermometer? Where is it located?

That is a small charcoal basket, by the way.

03-24-2013, 08:42 PM
Ditto on what kind of charcoal? Mine will go for 16+ hours on a basket that is 9 inches high and 14" in diameter. I agree with HeSmellsLikeSmoke, basket may be to small.

Just BS
03-24-2013, 08:52 PM
You're gonna need a bigger basket for longer cooks like brisket. Also after about six cooks things will settle down for ya....

03-24-2013, 09:44 PM
The thermometer was calibrated. The charcoal was Royal Oak frm Menards.

03-24-2013, 09:48 PM
I started with a basket that size also. Then upgraded.

03-24-2013, 09:50 PM
Wow! How much charcoal will that hold?

03-24-2013, 09:58 PM
Here's a pic of mine. After reading about your issue, I to think it's your basket being to small. Either that or you have an air leak somewhere. My basket is 12" high x 14.5" dia. The bottom is a charcoal grate from the 22.5 Webers. I think they're 14.5". The thing about larger baskets is you don't need to fill them up all the way. I did a seasoning with about 1/3 of a basket and it went for almost 16 hours using lump.



03-24-2013, 10:05 PM
They are 17 inch diameter. And it hold ALOT 25 or so pounds at least.

03-24-2013, 10:17 PM
His basket size is not the issue. My baskets are that size and they run 12 hours easily.

03-24-2013, 10:25 PM
The thermometer was calibrated. The charcoal was Royal Oak frm Menards.

Lump or briquettes? Briquettes burn longer.

Where were you taking the temperature with the therm? You may have been running much hotter than you think since there are large temperature variations within the pit.

How many times did you open the lid and how long was it open? You can easily get flare ups that burn charcoal which isn't contributing much to the cooking.

Did you use a water pan or diffuser? They take a lot of the heat away from the meat.

03-24-2013, 10:29 PM
They are 17 inch diameter. And it hold ALOT 25 or so pounds at least.

I must be thinking about the 18.5" grates.

His basket size is not the issue.

Maybe lighting to many coals? How bout lighting 10-12 coals instead of half a chimney?


03-24-2013, 10:31 PM
I believe I have the same problem you do, but only when I use my ill-fitting weber cover. I suspect that cool air is leaking in and hampering your thermometer readings.

Get a tight fitting flat lid, and give it another go, and you may narrow it down to your Weber lid mod.

This is but one opinion, in a world with many variables!

Ole Man Dan
03-25-2013, 01:43 AM
My basket is 17" wide and 12" tall. I can fill it with RO Lump and go 12-15 hrs easy.
I always choke off my UDS when I've finished smoking. Always have charcoal left.

With a big basket you remember to not use too much charcoal for shorter smokes.

03-25-2013, 11:08 AM
RO briquettes will burn slightly quicker than Kingsford, in my experience. BUT shouldn't be that fast. 12# should burn a lot longer than that. I like the RO briquettes as well as Kinsgford, so don't stop buying them if they work for you.

I'm guessing a couple things:
1) Cold temps in SE MI this weekend. You're going to use more charcoal in the cold. A blanket wrapped around the smoker can reduce this, if needed.
2) WIND. Wind is evil. It will suck the hot air out of your smoker and stroke your fire. You'll burn through a lot more charcoal when it is windy.
The first two are my guesses. Experiment more.

3) Leaky lid letting out too much hot air. I honestly don't think this is the problem, since you only had 1 3/4" ball open. This sounds about right to me, so this likely isn't the cause, but something to look into.

As far as your basket, there might be more optimum sizes/shapes, but charcoal = heat. If you were burning a lot more charcoal faster because of the shape, I would think your temps would be higher.

Experiment more. It always works. ;)

03-25-2013, 11:15 AM
Your issue may be with a leak or lump burning quicker than briqs, but I think a leak is more likely as mentioned above.

However, I would suggest taking the ball valves and risers off except for one, if you want to do hot n fast cooks in the future. I started out with my UDS having only 1 intake with a ball valve and riser - the other 3 intakes were just nipples with caps at the bottom of the drum. Had no trouble hitting whatever temp I wanted. Then I figured if 1 riser worked well, having all the intakes on risers would mean I NEVER had to bend down.

After I added more risers, I struggled to get temps over 300. Had to add a 5th intake (1" diameter) near the bottom of the drum for high heat cooks... because I was too lazy to take the risers off the other intakes.

03-25-2013, 11:27 AM
This is the same size basket he mentioned and it burns for 15 hours easy.


Smokin' D
03-25-2013, 12:03 PM
I know you said the charcoal was Royal oak, but not whether it was briquettes or lump. I have no experience with the briquettes but do know that the lump burns up rather quickly. Try a different fuel. Wicked Good Lump is exceptional and worth the extra cost. Last longer, burns slower and smells better.

03-25-2013, 12:05 PM
Would an air leak have caused the temp to spike? The temp didn't get higher than 275, with all three ball valves open.

03-25-2013, 12:06 PM
It was Royal Oak Charcoal from Menards.

03-25-2013, 12:06 PM
I will try and find some. Thank you.

03-25-2013, 01:21 PM
Old RO, maybe?

03-25-2013, 03:05 PM
Ryan it was windy and a little on the cold side. Maybe when things warm up, I can do another test burn to see where I'm at. Thanks for all the input.