Using Your Vents

by Kevin H. on February 22, 2012 · 11 comments

I’ve found many don’t know how to properly use the vents on their grill to help them cook.  The best example of this is my sister Karen, who thought the bottom swivel was only to clean the ash.  Bless her heart.

Simply put, the more airflow you have, the higher your temperature rises.  This is one of the best parts of using a Weber grill.  When you have a full load of coals in there you can be anywhere between 250 and 600+ degrees!  With practice, you will have amazing control over the temperature of your grill.

I almost always keep the bottom vents wide open.  This really keeps the air flowing and easy to control.

The top vent is what I use for control.  I start with them wide open until I get to the temp I need for that specific meat, then I begin to close them to lower the temp if needed.  When I’m smoking I keep the top vent closed a bit more to keep the smoke around my meat as long as possible.

I will occasionally close the bottom vents while cooking if I want the temperature lower for a slower cook.

And yes, when I’m done cooking and the grill is cooled down, I use the bottom vent swivel to clean out the dry ash.  🙂

Leave a Comment

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

joe smith August 2, 2017 at 6:13 pm

If you’re smoking, you have to leave the exhaust vent (top vent on a Weber) wide open. You don’t want the smoke lingering. Control the temp using only the bottom vents.


Kevin August 3, 2017 at 10:35 am

Joe – Agree and disagree. Depends on which meat you are smoking, what wood you’re using, and for how long you plan to smoke. For instance, with pork tenderloin, I smoke it hot and quick – maybe 45 minutes – and I use fruit woods, so I keep the top vents barely open so I can hit it with smoke hard. Bigger cuts like brisket and pork butts can take a lot of smoke too. But you’re correct on some meats – especially poultry – can get over smoked and bitter – and some woods like hickory, oak, and mesquite – can really hit meat hard, so you’re better off keeping the top vents open to prevent that.


Jackie Brown April 11, 2017 at 6:24 pm

Thank you


Hannah July 28, 2016 at 12:09 am

Everyone should know the principles of grilling. We might think its really an easy task, but there must be something deeper about it. Learn it from here!


Ty November 4, 2014 at 5:46 pm

Perfect way easier to understand than everyone’s 2 pages then still miss the point well done


Evan March 2, 2014 at 4:05 pm

Thank you for the quick and clear explanation. All too often videos that attempt to explain something have 5-20 minutes of background story and other non-pertinent filler. It was nice for a change to watch exactly what the description claimed.


Rob A. September 8, 2012 at 1:44 pm

Hey all,

Great site and great recipes! I’ve been grilling for around 3 decades but only recently got into the world of low and slow. Man, what a difference! Anyway, I have a stick burner with 2 vents and was wondering if y’all have any advice. Seems like a very fine line between too cool and too hot…

Thanks much and keep up the good work, Best of luck!



Kevin September 8, 2012 at 2:51 pm

Hey Rob – thanks so much for reaching out!
Stick burners…unfortunately these are probably the toughest pits to regulate temperature. With only 2 vents and using wood, it’s difficult to control the flame ups of the wood. It takes a LOT of practice.
I would try starting with a base of briquettes for your even heat, then add small chunks of wood on top of the charcoal for your smoke. See if that helps you regulate the temperature a bit. You don’t NEED to use wood for heat. Wood is there strictly for adding smoke to the flavor profile. So start with the smallest chunks possible that give you smoke and work your way up from there.
I sure hope this help, Rob! Let me know how things go and PLEASE contact me anytime with any questions, thoughts, help.


Mike fontenot February 26, 2013 at 8:45 pm

What would be the proper way to direct grill on an old smokey? It’s a jumbo. Trying to perfect it the best way I can.


Patti February 26, 2013 at 9:09 pm

The Old Smokey is similar to the Weber Smokey Mountain, and I’ve direct grilled many times on the Weber smoker. You should be able to just pile up a good amount of charcoal in the base of the old smokey and grill on that bottom grate. Just get those coals good and hot and it should work nicely. Let me know how it goes…or if I’m way off base! Thanks for the question, Mike.