Proper barbecue grill maintenance seems obvious to many of us. There’s nothing less appetizing than seeing dried, burnt food on a grill when you’re about to cook a juicy steak, fresh fish or tasty vegetables. But there’s a lot more to proper propane grill maintenance than keeping the cooking surface clean.
The quality of your food is affected by how you maintain your grill, but so are the safety and lifespan of your grill. These maintenance tips won’t make you a better cook, but we can help you have the best chances by sharing our knowledge of outdoor grill maintenance!
The Best Times to Perform BBQ Grill Maintenance
At the start of summer, there’s often a rush to get the grill out. When the good grilling weather hits, you want to take advantage of it, but if you haven’t done your propane grill maintenance beforehand, you might be in for some unhappy, hungry friends and family members. Start by walking through this simple checklist to get your grill back in good working order, so you can be sure it’s ready to use at a moment’s notice.
- Perform a thorough cleaning: When your grill has been sitting unused for a while, it needs a proper cleaning. Remove the cooking surfaces, lava rock or ceramic plates, and tubes and hoses. Be careful when you’re unthreading any fittings, and make sure you don’t lose the gaskets. Remove all grease that has accumulated in the grill, so you can get rid of a potential fire hazard. Also, use the hottest water you can stand with a bit of dish soap — this will help detach any grease and grime on the burner and in the grill body. And be careful not to get water inside the burner. Instead, use a wire brush or toothpick to clean any clogged burner holes.
- Reassemble and verify all connections: With the cleaning complete, you can start reassembling your grill. Make sure you inspect all gas gaskets and replace them if necessary. Proper barbecue maintenance is important for convenience and safety, so take the time to check all your propane connections. Any leaks will be easily visible when you apply a bit of soapy water. Your nose and ears can also help you detect any gas leaks. Once the gas is connected and the heating elements are back in place, all that’s left is to put the cooking surface into position.
- Heat up the grill to burn everything off: Once you have finished cleaning your grill, the next maintenance tip is to light the grill at maximum temperature to dry out any remaining water and soap, and burn off any grease. Try doing it once, let everything cool, and then flip over the stones or plates. Heat the grill up again to make sure that both sides see maximum heat. Be aware: this step will create lots of smoke, so make sure you’re as far as possible from buildings and people. This is also the perfect time to check your heat gauge — a properly functioning temperature indicator can be a big help for proper grilling.
What Tools to Use
There are a few tools to use when it comes time to clean your grill. If you don’t want to buy a new tool to clean your grill, you can use a grooved spatula. After you’ve heated up the grill, use it to scrape the gunk off the grates.
If you want a tool that you only use to clean the grill, invest in a grill brush with wire bristles. Heat up the grill and use the brush to get off those hard-to-get bits of grease and food. Don’t forget to clean your grill brush, too. You can soak it in hot water to help get it clean. If your brush isn’t clean, it won’t be able to clean your grill effectively.
There are a few other tools that are helpful for special types of grill grates and tools that are not as common. A newer tool that cleans similarly to a spatula or grill brush is a wooden scraper. A lot of people really like these scrapers because they don’t damage the grate like some grill brushes can and the tool adapts to clean your individual grill better. As you use the tool, the grates naturally burn grooves into the wooden scraper, adapting it to clean your own grill. The more you use it, the better it cleans.
A specialty tool is a brush with nylon instead of wire bristles. If you have a grill grate with a porcelain coating, this tool is the one to use. Unlike a wire bristle brush, a nylon bristle brush will not strip off the protective coating. However, a nylon bristle brush risks melting. You have to heat your grill up and then let it cool off significantly again before scrubbing the grates. If you let it cool down too much, though, you may not get as good of a clean. The nylon brush is an option, but it may not be the best one.
Replace Parts When Necessary
Each grill is different and will need different parts replaced at different points. Here are some factors that will affect when you may need to replace parts on your grill:
- Manufacturer: Some grills will come with projected maintenance schedules and recommendations. It’s important to follow those recommendations! Waiting too long to maintain your grill may lead to damage to your grill that would end up being more expensive than the maintenance.
- How often you use it: If you don’t use your grill as frequently, it will take longer when you have to replace parts or complete maintenance on it. On the flip side, if you use your grill frequently throughout the entire year, you will need to do more to keep it in good working condition.
- Where it’s stored: If you always leave your grill outside, with no cover or coverage from the elements, it will need to be maintained more than a grill that is stored more carefully.
- Climate: If you live in an area with a mild climate throughout the entire year, you will be using your grill much more than someone who experiences harsher winters. Some areas have other elements, like dust, humidity and rainfall, that can affect your grill. Understanding how your geographic area could affect your grill is important in keeping it in the best condition possible.
When you regularly check and replace the parts on your grill when needed, it will increase the lifespan of your grill and ensure it’s running properly to cook your food exactly how you want it. You’ll need to replace a part if it’s broken, rusty or just too old. Your owner’s manual will inform you about any necessary maintenance on your grill and when to get it done.
Keeping your grill clean and fixing any broken parts right away is necessary to cook delicious, mouth-watering food. When your grill isn’t working as well as it could be, it will have an impact on the quality of your food. But when you take care of your grill, it will take care of you by helping you make delicious meals for friends, family or just for yourself.
Once everything has cooled down, one last scrub of the grill with a brush will ensure your propane barbecue is ready for some serious cooking. A few last details — such as verifying your propane tank level, tightening all frame and handle bolts, and gathering your barbecue tongs, brushes and skewers — will make your grill ready for another season of reliable and enjoyable grilling.