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Whether it’s before the outdoor season begins or well into it, it’s critical to give your gas grill an occasional safety check. Just because your grill worked great last Labor Day doesn’t mean it’s still safe to use this summer. In fact, quite the opposite is true.
When not in use, gas grill parts can wear out, loosen up or even get infested with bugs that can cause explosions on start-up. And during use, grills can become clogged with all the delicious dripping you’ve been sizzling all summer!
According to the National Fire Protection Association, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 9,600 home fires involving grills, hibachis, or barbecues per year
Many of these fires and explosions result when consumers first use a gas grill that has been idle for a long period of time or just after refilling and re-attaching the grill’s gas tank.
7 Steps to clean a gas grill
To make sure your summer doesn’t start off with a “bang,” follow these safety steps before firing up your gas grill.
Remove and clean grids
Soak the grids in hot, soapy water and clean them with a nylon scrubbing pad. If they’re really encrusted, use oven cleaner in a well-ventilated area and rinse clean.
Remove and replace lava rock
If your gas grill uses lava rock, remove the old rocks and throw them away. Lava rock which is more than one season old will disintegrate and can clog your gas grill’s burners. Lava rock can also hold grease which can cause fires. Replacing the rock each year is wise. If your grill uses ceramic or pumice tiles, remove the pieces and clean them with a wire brush.
A clean and properly functioning burner is essential to the safe operation of the gas grill. Remove the burner, brush it clean and check carefully for cracks, split seams or holes. If any are found, the burner should be immediately replaced.
How to check for spiders in gas burner
Next, use a small wire bottle brush to brush out the “venturi” section of the burner. These are the small tubed sections which carry the gas to the burners. A special brush is also available to clear these tubes, or the entire burner can be flushed with a garden hose. Clearing the venturis is a crucial step in assuring the gas grill will be safe. Spiders commonly make nests inside the venturi tubes, which can cause a gas backup and explosion on startup.
Check gas hoses
Rubber hoses, which connect the gas to the tank, often become cracked and can be unsafe to use. Replace any hose which shows the slightest sign of wear.
Inspect propane tank
If your gas grill’s propane tank is more than 20 years old, it’s time to replace it. Old tanks are dangerous, as are tanks that are rusted or dented. In general, new tanks are much safer. Today’s tanks include an “over-fill protection device” or OPD valve, which prevents excessively high pressures from forming inside an overfilled tank. Tanks also come with a built-in check valve to prevent leaks.
Test for propane leaks
After performing all of the steps listed above, put the gas grill back together and check all gas connections for leaks. To do this safely, mix a 50/50 solution of liquid dishwashing soap and water. Brush the solution on all gas connections and watch for bubbles. If any are seen, the connection is leaking and should be fixed before firing up the gas grill.
With this gas grill safety check is complete, you’re ready to fire up your gas grill for a safe summer of backyard barbecue fun. Make sure you go through this process every so often. Grill maintenance isn’t something that should only be done at the beginning and end of the season, but periodically.
What to look for when buying a gas grill
If your grill is ready for replacement, new grills offer lots of options to consider. Here are some key considerations to help you find one matched to your use.
- Start by scoping out a grill’s main cooking area. Choose the amount you’ll need for everyday grilling.
- Think beyond BTUs. They tell you how much fuel a gas grill uses and how much heat it creates, but more BTUs doesn’t guarantee faster or better cooking.
- Be selective of infrared features. Infrared burners emit intense heat which sears and cooks food, but they’re not always better than standard burners.
- Put safety first. Test the grill’s sturdiness, check for sharp corners and edges, and make sure there’s plenty of distance between grates and burners to minimize those occasional flare-ups.
John A Kocon
Thanks for the tips on cleaning my gas grill. One thing I always do if for any reason I’m using my power washer for my deck fencing etc. I takeoff the grates from the grill give them a good power wash. I do have one question, I heard that it’s not a good idea to cover your gas grill so why do they sell the covers if that’s not a good idea. So is the answer cover the grill or not cover the grill thanks. I have an MHP grill