Written by Robyn Prasek

Burgers cooking on a barbecue.

Many of us are just done with winter and are ready to skip spring and head right into summer, and what is synonymous with summer - barbecuing.  There are the die-hards that will BBQ straight through the winter, but for many of us, our gas grills sit covered (hopefully) buried under whatever Mother Nature lashed us with during the winter season.  Here comes the first nice day and voila – the gas grill gets uncovered, but it’s in such a sorry state that you decide that it’s going to be take out tonight instead.  Just like with other burning appliances – proper maintenance can take a gas grill a long way...

 

First and foremost – Safety Check

Soapy bubbles showing a leak on a pipe.

Whether the grill runs off of propane or natural gas – check for leaks.  Once the valve is opened (whether on the LP tank or a quick connect box) a mixture of soapy water sprayed on all connections (valves too) will bubble if a leak is present.  Shut off all valves immediately if bubbles are present and get the leak fixed or the leaking part replaced.  The hose that runs from the gas supply to the grill and / or other gas burning parts of the grill (i.e. side burner) is another place that should be checked for leaks.  Using the same soapy mixture, apply it to the hose from end to end while the gas supply is turned on (as long as there were no leaks on the valve and connections).  If a leak is present – bubbles will be visible.  If the hose is leaking, have the hose replaced immediately.

Ignitor

Most grills now have a piezo ignitor / piezo starter.  Ignitors can either be a separate button on the grills control panel or can be integrated into the grills knob controls.  Piezo ignition requires no external power supply.  If the grill is equipped with piezo ignition – check the connection of the ignitor’s wires to make sure that nothing has loosened over the winter.  If connections have loosened – make sure that all connections are corrected and ready to go.  If the ignitor or the wires are corroded – replace them accordingly.  If there is a battery pack on the grill, that indicates the presence of a spark generator (electronic ignitor).  This uses the battery’s voltage to generate the spark to light the grill.  Check the battery for corrosion or any defects - as well as the connections of any wires that are present - and replace where necessary.

Burner and Venturi Tubes

Venturi tubes and burner

Check the burners and venturi tubes for wear or for any pitting and / or corrosion that may have occurred over the winter.  If there is any visible damage to the burners, or even questionable, replace them.  If the burners are in good condition, remove and clean them with a brush or wash with a mix of a mild detergent and water.

The venturi tubes are what allow the air and the gas to mix prior to it entering the burner.  Small insects could build nests and spiders could build webs inside the tubes restricting the air flow. These obstructions could cause dangerous conditions such as flashbacks or fires in and around the tubes which could lead to damage of other grill components or conditions that are unsafe for the surroundings.  Being that the grill hasn’t been used for a period of time (winter) inspect and clean the venturi tubes.  A pipe cleaner may work well given its flexibility.

Grill Lid & Bowl

Barbecue grill lid and bowl.

Check the lid & bowl of the grill to make sure that there is no excess grease or residue left over from last season.  If there is, try and scrape or brush the residue off.  Use a mixture of a mild detergent and water when necessary.  Remember, a grill does build up some residue which is like a seasoning and can enhance the taste of the food being cooked.  (Looking for an excess or a thick buildup of the grease / residue.)

Cooking Grids

The leak checks are completed and that steak that’s been marinating all day is ready, but those cooking grids – ick!  Most likely the grids were not cleaned properly after their last use and winter time has taken its toll on them.  Most cooking grids can be cleaned by leaving them in place and burning the grill on high with the lid closed for several minutes until no smoke is present.  Allow the grill to cool, then wipe the grids clean.  Make sure to invest in a good grill brush too.  The less inexpensive brushes can fall apart and some of the remnants (mainly the bristles) can find their way into the foods that are being cooked.

Interior grates / Briquette Racks

Barbecue briquettes on a briquette rack.

Some grills may or may not have these types of grates / racks, but it is still important to clean them if they are present.  Most of the buildup and residue should be able to be removed off of grates/racks using a soft wire brush.  They can then be wiped using the mild detergent and water solution.  If the grill has briquettes present, and are in good condition, they can go back in the grill.  If not, replace them.

 

Grill exterior

So now that the grill is all good to on the inside, what about the outside???  Simple solutions of mild detergent and water do wonders cleaning the exterior of a grill.  High heat touch up paints are also available if there are any nicks or chips that need to be covered.  Check the manufactures recommendations before purchasing the paint.  If the grill is made of stainless steel – use a stainless steel cleaner with a microfiber cloth as any other type of cleaner or cloth may be too abrasive for the stainless steel components.  Remember, only clean a grill that has cooled down.  Cleaners that are flammable and aerosol sprays should never be used near a hot grill.

Misc. Parts

Make sure that all grease cans and crumb trays are also cleaned and ready to go.

Happy & Safe Grilling!  Bon Appétit!



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Saleswoman Robyn Prasek

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