The hot rod or igniter rod is an integral part of a pellet grill. It's quite literally what ignites the pellets and allows your pellets to smolder/burn.
Luckily, most Pellet Grill Manufacturers have spare parts on hand and installation of the part is fairly straightforward.
The reason I say to do this is because there is a good chance that the hot rod or igniter rod is covered by the pellet grill's warranty.
The hot rod isn't very expensive and in most cases they'll send you a replacement.
Just for the sake of the article, here's a few popular Pellet Grill Manufacturer's warranty pages as well as wording from these respective pages:
This list isn't all encompassing but as we can see above, most pellet grill manufacturers are apt to work with you to make you whole. If your hot rod or igniter rod fails, chances are the manufacturer will send you one that's made for your grill.
If not, the part also won't break the bank, they usually range from $10-$20.
In my case, Grilla Grills was a pleasure to work with and was happy to send me a replacement igniter rod.
Truth be told, lots of pellet grills are designed to work in the same way - especially with regards to the fire pot and igniter.
Meaning, while this guide is specific to my pellet grill (the Grilla Grills Silverbac), it isn't much different from the other brands outlined above.
To start you'll need a few things:
To start, ensure your Pellet grill is unplugged and that the grill is off.
Start by removing the cover from the fire pot; My firepot was held in place by 3 screws.
These screws can be somewhat hard to remove with a standard screwdriver simply because it's hard to get at an angle to actually insert the tip of the screwdriver.
I personally have screwdriver bits for my socket wrench and that helped a ton.
Once the screws are removed, slide the firepot housing off the frame. Upon doing so you might feel a slight bit of resistance, this is likely the hot rod wiring that's now taught.
My igniter rod was held in place by a singular, tightened screw. Use your screwdriver to untighten this screw, or completely remove it and tighten it back later.
Once loosened, the hot rod can be removed from the fire pot.
Most wiring for your pellet grill is likely housed behind or below the hopper (where you put your pellets).
In my case, there was a metal basket that held the wires within. All I had to do was remove a few screws and then I had direct access to the wiring below the hopper.
With some pellet grills, you may need to completely remove this housing.
From there, I followed the hot rod wire until I found where it was connected.
I then unplugged the wire, snipped the zip ties with wire cutters, and guided the hot rod (not the Molex connector) through the grill until it was removed.
With how these igniter cables are designed, I'd strongly suggest that you plug the cable in first as apposed to installing the hot rod and then guiding the plug through the grill.
In my case, the molex-style connector (pictured above) doesn't fit the pre-cut holes and rather, the hot rod is meant to be guided through them.
When doing this step I had to lay on my back but I guided the hot rod through the first pre-cut hole:
Then I guided it back through the second pre-cut hole:
Note: When I guided the hot rod through the holes, I didn't need to tug or force them through. While I definitely had to angle the hot rod in such a way to guide it through, I wasn't scraping or bending metal to force it through.
Once the igniter rod is guided back through, you can put it back into the firepot through the same hole you removed it from.
You want the hot rod to slightly protrude into the firepot about 1/4 to 1/2 inch.
Once you're satisfied with how it looks, you can tighten the screw on the underside of the hot rod to fasten it in place.
With how my firepot works, Grilla Grills has one end that slides on to the housing. So I slid it back on and then used a mallet to tap the corners of the housing so that the screw holes lined back up.
Once they lined back up, I used my socket-wrench and Philips bit to screw the three screws back in place.
Before I zip tied the wiring, I tested the hot rod to ensure that it worked.
I plugged my pellet grill in and started the grill with the burn pot exposed. I then watched the auger dump pellets into the firepot.
I then started to notice some embers which is a good sign that the new hot rod was working.
As I noticed this I put my heat deflector over the firepot and waited.
Everything went as normal, there was a large cloud of smoke - which normally happens and eventually all the pellets were ignited and the grill was starting to climb in temperature.
From here I then put my grill into shutdown mode, which takes 5 minutes.
Once shut down, I unplugged the grill again in order to zip tie the wires and re-screw the basket housing for the wiring.
With the zip ties I simply put them back roughly where Grilla Grills had them. This should be readily apparent on grills that have been used for a while. As the wires tend to stay bent in the shape that the previous zip ties had them in.
Once things were zip tied, I then removed the tail with wire cutters.
Once things were securely fastened, I then re-screwed the basket into the hopper so that the wires were away from the combustion fan.
Again, with how the previous wires were oriented, they'll want to return to this position - away from the fan.
That's really all there is to this process of replacing an igniter rod.
In terms of difficulty, I'd say it was fairly easy. The hardest/longest part is just removing screws. The rest is pretty straightforward in terms of installation.
Again, while this guide used a Grilla Grills Silverbac, most pellet grills are relatively similar in terms of parts - especially the burn pot/hot rod. However, it doesn't hurt to contact the manufacturer and look at their schematics/documentation.