The Lazy Man’s Guide to a BBQ Grill Tune Up

Lazy men love cooking with gas.  Just flip the switch, throw the meat over the flame, and later cook.  No more hauling dirty charcoal, squirting scary starter fluid, fanning flames, dying embers, or waiting around for the perfect-but-fleeting moment for the show to begin.  Gas-fueled BBQ grills have certainly taken the guesswork out of cooking outdoors over an open flame but they come with a trade-off — more moving parts that require more maintenance.  For easiest cooking all season long, let the lazy man’s guide to a BBQ grill tune up set the pace.

Image Credit: BBQ

Lazy men love cooking with gas.  Just flip the switch, throw the meat over the flame, and later cook.  No more hauling dirty charcoal, squirting scary starter fluid, fanning flames, dying embers, or waiting around for the perfect-but-fleeting moment for the show to begin.  Gas-fueled BBQ grills have certainly taken the guesswork out of cooking outdoors over an open flame but they come with a trade-off — more moving parts that require more maintenance.  For easiest cooking all season long, let the lazy man’s guide to a BBQ grill tune up set the pace.

The Visual Once-Over

Image Credit: Finger-Lickin-BBQ

Give the grill a good looking over inside and out.  Look for trouble spots that may cause problems.  Rust anywhere is not a good sign.  Pay special attention to rust on the propane tank, the grill surface, and the bottom of the unit.  Lift the grill surface to see what’s underneath.  Look for rust on the lower grill, burner, and grill floor.  Make sure hoses are intact and secured firmly.  Repair trouble spots and replace faulty parts before doing any cooking.

Replace Faulty Parts

Image Credit: Grill

Rust spots on the unit’s walls and hood can usually be repaired safely but rust elsewhere usually calls for replacement of parts.  Never cook with a rusty propane tank; replace it immediately.  Same with a rusty burner.  Gas barbecue units come with manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and maintenance, including how to replace the burner.  New burners come with installation instructions, too, in case the grill’s owner’s manual is hard to find when needed.

Keep It Clean

Use soapy water to scrub away any carbon deposits built up inside the unit; these deposits often look like loose paint.  A stiff-bristle brush might help.  Wipe up any soapy drips and make sure the unit dries thoroughly before closing it to prevent new rust spots from starting.

A putty knife can remove burnt-on food debris stuck to the grill but it might take a lot of elbow grease to make that happen.  An easier way is to turn the grill on for a few minutes, till the cook surfaces are warm then use a wire brush to remove the gunk from the top and bottom of all grill surfaces.  This stuff doesn’t taste good, will get into the fresh food you cook, and becomes a fire hazard over time.  Once clean, use a little cooking oil to polish all cooking surfaces; this will help prevent rust and keep food from sticking the next time you cook.

Make sure the rocks that help distribute heat evenly are clean and free of grease build-up or burnt-on food particles.  Most grill rocks are made of ceramic or lava and can become fire hazards if they get too dirty.  Replace them if they can’t be cleaned.  These rocks help keep the burner clean, too, for safest cooking so don’t let them get so dirty that grease can seep through to the burner underneath.

Give the grease pan a good scrub at the beginning of BBQ season and empty it every time you cook.  Hot grease is a fire hazard and a messy overflow can burn somebody.

Check the Gas Supply System

Once rust is removed, faulty parts replaced, and flammable gunk cleaned away, check the gas supply system to make sure it’s working properly.  Begin with the propane tank that’s passed visual inspection for rust spots.  Rusty tanks cause explosions so never risk using them.

Fill your propane tank so cooking isn’t unexpectedly interrupted when a hungry crowd is waiting, plate in hand.  Keep a spare tank filled and handy, just in case.

Follow the supply line to check for kinks in hoses and for clogs in hoses and pipes.  Insects like to nest in tight spaces like this.  Use a garden hose to spray them out so they don’t block the gas supply to your grill.

Image Credit: Gas Supply System

Test the ignition switch.  If you hear too many clicks before getting a spark, replace the switch.  A sluggish ignition switch can cause gas to build up and then ignite explosively.

Notice the color and intensity of the flame your grill produces.  A low, yellow flame is a cool flame that signals a problem in the fuel supply line.  A cool flame means it’ll take longer to cook your food but it could mean danger, too.  Check again for clogs, blockages, and leaks in the supply system and don’t overlook the regulator.  If the regulator is defective, replace it before using the grill.

Safe Location

Cherry-ChipBBQ

Make sure your BBQ grill is situated in a safe place.  Remove any overhanging tree branches that could catch fire or drop leaves onto a hot BBQ.    Don’t cook close to the house, garage, or other structure.  Allow plenty of room between the grill and the nearest structure for ventilation and heat dissipation.  Keep patio umbrellas and other lawn furniture far enough away from the grill zone that fire isn’t a risk to them.

Protect It

Protect it from the elements to make it last longer and to minimize the time and effort needed to keep it in safe functioning condition.  If your BBQ grill is portable, clean it up and move it indoors when it’s cooled down after a cook-out.  If it’s a permanent outdoor fixture, consider getting a plastic grill cover to keep it dry when not in use.

Gas BBQ grills are made to last longer than grills that burn charcoal but the quality of care they get is the key to a long life.  Make cleaning and maintenance a routine part of the cooking experience for laziest enjoyment of your BBQ grill for years to come.

Author bio: Esther is a barbecue aficionado and loves writing about outdoor cooking. He loves outback barbecues and Gas BBQ’s alike and also enjoys sharing barbecue tips that will turn you into a barbeque superhero.

Erin Emanuel

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