If you don't stop to give your gas grill a good cleaning before retiring it for the season, it can really cause problems next year when you want to fire it back up. Here's what to do:
First, soak the gas grill's grids in hot, soapy water and clean them with a nylon scrubbing pad. If they're really encrusted with grilling debris, apply oven cleaner to the grids in a well-ventilated area; then rinse clean.
Next, remove the lava rock or ceramic briquettes from the gas grill, clean them with a wire brush and replace any that are deteriorated.
Then remove the grill's burner, brush it clean and check carefully for cracks, split seams or holes. If any are found, the burner should be immediately replaced.
Lastly, check all the rubber gas hoses for cracks and replace any that show the slightest sign of wear.
Now you're ready to put the 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.
For more tips on maintaining your gas grill, see these outdoor cooking safety tips.