Travis Pizel, Debt Management Plan Customer with CareOne Services, Inc. Today is July 4th and many people will be enjoying food cooked on a grill, including myself. I love BBQ, and a few months ago I purchased a smoker. Smokers are offered in a wide variety of prices, ranging from as little as $40 to as much as several thousands of dollars.

While it's certainly a lot of money to me, the $200 that I spent is relatively inexpensive as far as smokers go. The good news is that some easy and inexpensive modifications that I found online have greatly improved the quality of my smoker, helping me get the most for my money.

Replacing the Charcoal Basket

The wire charcoal basket that comes with the smoker is low quality and sits too low in the firebox. Once you build up a lot of ash, it will cut the supply of oxygen to your charcoal, making it difficult to maintain the proper cooking temperature.


Stainless steel grill basket:       $15

Stainless steel nuts and bolts:  $  3

By pushing a bolt through a hole in the grill basket in each of the four corners and securing them with a nut, the basket now rests perfectly on the cooking grates of the firebox. This keeps the charcoal well above the ash pan and allows removal of the ash pan independent of the charcoal basket.

Sealing the Cooking Chamber

As purchased, the cooking chamber leaks badly. This modification will keep the heat doing what it's meant to do: cook the food.


10 feet of ½" rope gasket:  $20

Tube of gasket adhesive:  $10

I removed the lid from the smoker and laid it on the garage floor upside down. I then applied the gasket adhesive around the inside of the lid, holding the rope gasket in place with clothes pins until dry.

Extending the Ventilation Stack

The flow of heat and smoke tends to go diagonally from the opening of the fire box, up to the smoke stack. By extending the stack to grate level, heat and smoke will be forced across the cooking surface to exit the smoker.


 3" diameter flexible aluminum vent pipe:  $10

 Stainless steel nut and bolt:                   $  2

Attach one end of the dryer pipe to the stack on the roof of the cooking chamber and extend it down the side of the lid. Drill a hole in the side of the lid through the vent pipe and fasten the ventilation tube to the lid with the nut and bolt.

Baffle Plate

The temperature of the cooking chamber near the firebox will be much hotter than the far side.


18"x24" piece of uncoated sheet metal:  $8

I laid the piece of sheet metal across the body of the cooking chamber, and it just happens to rest exactly where I want it. This forces the heat to move to the center of the cooking chamber before rising, resulting in a very even temperature throughout the cooking chamber.

There are other modifications that could be done to the smoker, but these will make the most significant difference in the performance of an offset smoker. For an additional $68 investment, my smoker became more efficient and the temperature is easier to control. These improvements will help make BBQing an enjoyable hobby for years to come!

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Travis Pizel, Blogger for CareOne Services, Inc. Leading Provider of Debt ReliefTravis Pizel

Travis is a contributing writer for the My Journey out of Debt blog and is a very active member of the CareOne community forums. Travis is currently enrolled in a CareOne Debt Management Plan (DMP). Travis very candidly shares his personal journey to pay off his debt and the tips he's learned along the way. As a father and husband he provides a unique perspective on balancing debt, finances, and family. You can also follow along with Travis on his personal blog, Our Journey to Zero. Compensated Blogger for CareOne Debt Relief Services.

Follow Travis on Twitter @DebtChronicles