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Smoker Gaskets: How to Fix Leaky Lids and Doors

By Dylan Clay
Last Updated 
June 28, 2022

The goal of smoldering hardwood to smoke food is to maximize the interaction between the smoke/gases and the food.

Leaky lids and doors can result in both smoke and heat escaping; A smoker that leaks smoke is essentially counter-productive.

Luckily, gaskets for smokers are very cheap and easy to install.

What is a "Leaky Lid"?

The main reason folks look into gaskets for their smokers is due to what's called a "leaky lid."

Essentially, a leaky lid is a lid that was machined poorly, to the point that it doesn't create a tight seal with the rest of the smoker.

This lack of seal allows for smoke and heat to escape the cooking chamber.

What is a Smoker Gasket?

A gasket is a form of mechanical seal. Meaning, it fills the space between two mating surfaces; In this case, the lid and the rest of the smoking chamber.

smoker gasket

Hence a "smoker gasket."

How to Install a Smoker Gasket

This can be smoker dependent but in my opinion there really shouldn't be that much of a difference from my use-case and yours.

In my case, I'm installing a smoker gasket on my Weber Kettle charcoal grill.

smoker gasket materials
Not pictured - Putty knife and Pocket knife (Gasket Above)

In order to do this you'll need a few things:

  • A Smoker Gasket - I used this one from LavaLock
  • Mr. Clean Magic Erasers
  • Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol
  • Sandpaper
  • Putty knife
  • Boxcutter / Knife

1. Cleaning the Edge of the Lid

Of the complaints I've read online about installing smoker gaskets, the most common one is related to them not "sticking" to the surface.

In almost all cases these people haven't cleaned the surface first to get rid of debris.

The first thing I did was used a putty knife to get rid of any large debris along the outer edge of the lid.

Once those were removed, I used a few Mr. Clean Magic Erasers with Isopropyl alcohol to completely wipe down the edge until it was back to the original porcelain enamel.

2. Sandpaper

I then used sandpaper to give the adhesive of the LavaLock gasket something to adhere to, rather than just the smooth surface of the lid.

You don't need to be super aggressive with the sandpaper.

Simply use a medium grit sandpaper to lightly scratch the outer edge of the lid, where the gasket will go.

3. Applying the Gasket

Applying the gasket is super straight forward, simply guide the gasket - adhesive side toward the lid - along the perimeter.

Since the lid of the Weber Kettle is beveled, I placed the middle of the gasket in the middle of the bevel and ensured the adhesive entirely stuck to the surface.

the bevel of the lid
The Indent is the Bevel

Once I made my way back around to the start of the gasket, I used my pocket knife to cut the gasket so that the start and the end are flush against each other.

smoker gasket installed

You do not want to overlap the gasket; Doing so will cause a leak at this exact overlap when you go to close your lid.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, this process is super straightforward.

Most people tend to forego the cleaning step, however, I think it's entirely necessary.

Rather than having your gasket adhesive sticking to the debris (that could flake off), by cleaning it first, you ensure that the gasket sticks directly to the lid.

Also, "burn-in" times aren't necessary in my opinion. The gasket will set over-time and is ready to use right after installing.

Dylan Clay
I've grilled and smoked meat for roughly half my life. While i'm not a professional Pitmaster, I've worked with nearly every cut of meat. Not everyone has a hands on guide to teach them BBQ. It's my hope that Barbecue FAQ can be that helping hand.

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