Smokehouse Part 5 – Heat bypass

I didn’t realize how much I didn’t know about smokehouses when I started this project. I assume its that way with most things, but I try and educate myself on the internet with message boards and reading blogs. This one project seems to be the most unknown project I have stepped into in a while. The “heat” seems to be something no one speaks much about, but its one of the most important parts of a smokehouse.

I first found that even on initial start up I couldn’t stay under 120° no matter what I did. Once the firebox was hot I could not keep the heat under 140° or 150° no matter what I did. I learned then, after listening on an older guy on the forums that they made a heat bypass to let heat out from getting to the smoke house. I am still not sure what I have is the best, but it works for now. I might like to have a level split Y and not a upright Tee as I have, but its all conjecture that this moment as I can’t test them all or find a better subject matter expert yet.


So above you can see the finished project, for now. It works, but I think it could be done differently. What you see here is a 6″ Tee, 14″ of 6″ pipe, 1 – 6″ elbow and a coupling that I used to make the baffle to keep water out of the pipe when it rains and blows.

The first step was to cut the tee, which in the picture above you and see I left enough for it to slip on and grab the pipe to the smoke house. I then marked the pipe for the hole to be cut into it. Then used the angle grinder to start cutting that section out. Here is what I ended with.


Notice the big Coon track? He caused a bit too much trouble and is not with us any longer at this point in time, but back to the subject. I drilled the holes to set the dampers and got them in. Everything fitted up nice. I took the slip coupling and cut and folded one end to make a rain baffle to block blowing rain from entering the pipe. It might be off a little, might bet redone later, but it works for now.


So now the pipe was all back together. I pulled out of jalapenos and decided to smoke them for chipotle. It warmed up and I couldn’t get any warmth or smoke into the smokehouse. I shut the top damper and still nothing. It failed and I got the drill gun out, pulled the screws and got gloves and off came the stack. I look in and the top new 6″ pipe is way bigger than the damper. Look at all that air space around the damper.


I was frustrated and had a beer to relax. I thought maybe I would have 4 and forget it for another day, but not even half way into the beer my brain will not quit and I knew this was getting fixed now.

I pulled out some scrap 1/4″ plate steel I have and mark out a template and start using the cutting wheel on the angle grinder to cut it out. The cutting wheels all broke and as you can see on the bottom I started using the grinding wheels to cut it out.


After a lot of cutting and grinding and fitting I got a damper size I was happy with. So I clamped the plate to the damper and got it ready to be tack welded.


A view from the bottom.


A picture of the new and improved damper with better sealing.


The damper will never be perfect  as this thin wall pipe is flexible and the seam is hard to seal on. but it keeps the heat in when closed. I easily got the smokehouse up to 220° with the top damper closed and the fire box hot. I still have to play with it and experiment for cold smoking. This was Saturday and the peppers now get done on Sunday and is another story.

This is probably all short term anyways to get through the winter or two years. I may rebuild the fire box to include a chimney and an oven above it for baking a chicken or a wood fired pizza oven. That is all just rattling around in my head for now and hasn’t been engineered yet.



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