As the weather warms up, you don’t want to be stuck inside cooking over a boiling stove. You would rather be outside, utilizing your outdoor grill (or if it’s hot enough, a sidewalk and the sun) that you probably spent a fair amount on. In order to enjoy this outdoor appliance for years to come (and not spend close to a grand every few years), you will need to know how to properly and safely care for it. This post will provide you with tips to help you ensure that your unit lasts for several years.
Checking the Chassis
The chassis is the key part of the appliance, since it’s the framework of the machine. Making sure that it is in working order and rust-free is important to ensure that it continues to provide a place to barbecue your food when needed.
Indeed, effective care for the chassis of your grill is making sure that rust does not accumulate. Remember that you must catch rust early as it can eat away at the metal parts, compromising its use. This Old House suggests using a steel-wire brush, or coarse steel wool, such as that you use on pots and pans. Also, painting the surfaces most susceptible to rust with a rust-resistant paint can protect these metal surfaces most vulnerable to corrosion.
Also, make sure the wheels and other parts of the base are tight. You should test these areas with a screwdriver or wrench occasionally. If the parts seem a bit loose, tighten them. This will ensure the stability of the base, and prevent a flaming inferno from tipping over your feet after a few beers while children are running around on a hot cookout day.
However, if the parts of the base, such as the grill’s wheels, or whatever, seem especially worn, contact the company that manufactured the grill. Additionally, you could get creative here with some duct tape, or make your movable grill into an unmovable one with some cement.
Monitor the Burners
Carefully watch your burners, since they can fill up quickly with grease and clog up. First of all, any grease residue should be dealt with instantly, because a grease fire is always a threat. They’re never fun to deal with (and nobody wants to call firefighters over hot dogs gone wrong), and you’ll have to do an extensive cleanup of the grill before you can tackle it again, unless you like the taste of grease and burnt dreams of a nice lawn.
Since the burners are especially vulnerable to grease damage, proper cleaning is a must. First, make sure that the unit is cold. Then take a stainless steel brush or pipe cleaner to remove the unwanted material from your gas burner. One of the things that a good cleaning ensures is that the flame will be evenly distributed throughout the burner. Test it after you’re done cleaning.
Observe Your Flame
A healthy flame is blue with yellow strips. If the flame has turned yellow, then something’s wrong. If the flame has turned black, it’s time to see an optometrist. As This Old House points out, this could mean that your propane tank is not producing enough gas pressure. A yellow flame can indicate the possibility that your propane tank’s pressure bladder has been allowed to freeze, reducing the flow of gas into the burner. While safe, it’s not that great of an idea to keep gas tanks out in winter, unless you like replacing them. A frozen bladder affects the level of heat produced for the fire. If you cook food with an inadequate fire, your food may not cook all the way through, and the food you eat could poison you. Unlike raw cookie dough, raw chicken breast isn’t that amazing.
To remedy the problem with the yellow flame, turn off your tank and the grill’s control valves. After doing this, disconnect your tank and slowly reactivate the gas to inspect the fire’s color.
Another cause of yellow flame could be that the propane is pressurized. As a result, it can cause the burner to become wider, and as a consequence, can let too much gas out. Also, check your burners for cracking, deformity, and other signs of wear. If these elements are present, it’s time to replace them.
Anything you use–such as a tray or cup used to catch grease–should be thoroughly cleaned, drained and rinsed on a regular basis. As mentioned earlier, large pools of grease can lead to an annoying–as well as dangerous–grease fire.
Coat every part of the appliance–whether it’s the hoses extending from the control valve to the burner–with soapy water. Use a basting brush to apply this mixture (just remember to clean the brush before you start basting ribs with soapy barbecue sauce). Any bubbles that appear after you have once again turned on your grill is a sign that should be taken seriously–it could mean that gas is escaping from these connections. If you see this, replace the hose or the O-ring.
Keeping Bugs Out
Wrap all of your tubes in an aluminum screen. You want to let the air in, but keep all unwanted visitors, such as insects or other debris, out. From personal experience, a grill coated in ants is not fun. You might start wondering what that popping noise is…
Keeping the Grates Clean
The grates are an important part of any grill; this is where the cooking actually takes place. If you’ve discovered another place to cook food on a grill, let us know. Their job is to evenly distribute the fire to all areas of your food, which is vital to ensure that those hamburgers, hot dogs, and steaks are thoroughly cooked. While you can eat a raw hot dog, you really shouldn’t.
Thus to maintain the grates, you should brush off any grease and debris build up from the metal plates, which can trap moisture and, in turn, lead to corrosion.
It’s important that you protect the grill covers from the elements. Make sure that these covers have a protective inner lining to draw moisture out of the metal. Plastic is not the best material because it retains moisture, which leads to increased humidity and speeds up the rusting process. The best materials to use are canvas, cloth, or vinyl. Avoid cheap, generic covers as they can be damaged by ultraviolet rays.
Other Maintenance Tips
Avoid the annoyance of food sticking to your grill. Use a hot oil, such as peanut oil, before turning on your grill and attempting to cook. If you wish, you can also use a good cooking spray. According to Southern Living, if you are using a charcoal grill, aluminum foil can also avoid the problem of meat sticking to the grates.
Clean the grates regularly with a sponge. This rids the device of any burnt food residue. Then wipe the grates down with a brush. Use a mild dishwashing liquid or an oven cleaner. If you choose to use oven cleaner, use it only in a ventilated area, and follow all safety precautions, including the appropriate safety gloves and glasses.