Tips and tricks to tune up your barbecue grill and get it ready for a summer full of family memories

Does this scenario sound familiar?  Your family and friends are gathering for a barbecue to celebrate your spouses birthday.  You have spent hours getting everything ready and coordinating with each family what they are supposed to bring.  You have marinated chicken and steaks overnight and all the side dishes are all ready.  Guests are starting to arrive and you go to turn on the grill and there is some sort of problem.  Panic sets in and the best minds in the family are called in to figure out how to fix the problem.  After an hour, the guests are getting restless and the kids have eaten all of the chips and consumed all the soda.  Finally you start the meal with just the sides while you try to figure out how to cook for 30 people using just your oven and stove top.

It seems like the family barbecue grill is one of those things that is just expected to work, just like the family car, or the air conditioner, dishwasher, refrigerator, or furnace.  Keeping your grill running without problems requires regular maintenance.

It is best to check the owners manual for your specific grill to make sure that you follow maintenance instructions for your type of grill.

Here are the 10 Steps for a complete Barbecue Gas/Propane Grill Tune Up:

1. Do a visual inspection of the entire grill. Is there any rust on the outside of the grill? Are there any cracks in the surface? Is the propane tank rust free? Is the grill surface rust free?  Are the hoses cracked or worn?  Make sure you take off the grill surface, remove the rocks and the bottom grill and check the burner for rust.  If there is anything that is rusted or worn, replace it immediately to ensure your safety.

2. Completely clean the entire grill.  It may take a putty knife to get the baked on food off the bottom of the grill.  Clean the inside and the outside of the unit.  At the top of the grill, it probably looks like paint is coming off.  That is usually just carbon deposits that can come off with a good scrub with soapy water. I typically don’t use soapy water on the grill surface itself. I heat the grill up for several minutes and then use a wire brush on the grill surface to ensure that it is completely clean and free of baked on food. After cleaning and the grill cools down, I use some oil on the grill surface to season the grill, make sure that the grill does not rust, and help the food not stick the next time you use your grill. Make sure you follow your manufacturers instructions for your grill surface. Here is a video from Lowes showing how to clean your grill.

3. If your burner is rusted at all make sure you replace it immediately. It is dangerous to cook on a rusted burner. Follow the instructions carefully and make sure that you do not bend or kink the venturi tubes when you place them into the grill. Another video to help replace a rusted burner:

If your burner is working but generating yellow flame or low flame output, check out my post on 5 Tips for Troubleshooting Low Flame Output on your BBQ Grill

4. Check your venturi tubes for any insects or spiders. You can use your garden hose to spray out the venturi tubes and make sure that there is no insect nests stopping the flow of gas into your BBQ grill

5. Empty your grease pan. It is easy to dump when it is not full, it is a messy job to clean it up (and the surface underneath) when it overflows. Watch that during the season and empty regularly.

6. Check the rocks. Most grills use either ceramic or lava rocks to help distribute the heat to the food above. As juices and grease drops from your food, the rocks get inundated and cause flare ups. Consider replacing the rocks or purchasing heat distribution plates for your barbecue grill. They help distribute the heat and prevent flare ups.

7. Check your ignition switch. If it takes many clicks to start your grill, you will want to replace the ignition switch. It is dangerous to have a large build up of gas and finally get a good spark from your ignition switch. The resulting explosion may cause you to lose the hair on your arms, eyebrows or cause real damage.

8. Fill your propane tank. There is nothing so frustrating as running out of fuel when your food is only half way cooked.

9. Spray off your grill cover inside and out. Make sure that you let it dry completely (inside and out) before putting it back on your grill to avoid trapping moisture between the cover and the grill

10. Finally, after the tune up is done, have a family barbecue to celebrate your completed barbecue tune up.

Barbecue Grill in the snow picture by cheukiecfu