Angie's List: Maintaining Your Grill

By Lauren Maloney

Published 05/16 2014 08:16PM

Updated 05/19 2014 08:47AM

Memorial Day weekend typically kicks off the start of the grilling season.

If it’s been awhile since you fired up your grill, a checkup may be in order.

In today’s Angie’s List report, what you should check before heading outside with the burgers, brats and buns.

“We love the outdoors. We have a big backyard patio and pool and backyard seating area so we love spending time outdoors,” Homeowner Deidra Pettinga said.

Deidra Pettinga and her family grill out year round.

So it’s important to her that the grill is professionally cleaned and inspected each year.

“The gas grill that’s here belonged to the former owners. We’ve been here 12 years and they were here maybe five years before that so that grill is going on 20 years old and we are keeping it like new,” Pettinga said.

Your grill is an appliance and with proper maintenance and care, it can give you years of great use.

Aaron Nelson says a common problem he sees is clogged or greasy burners.

What can happen to burners is they can corrode over time. They are being heated up so much and cooled down that the burner can rust and corrode. Most burners can last five to eight years, but eventually they need replacement like a lot of parts on the grill,” Grill Repairman Aaron Nelson.

The ceramic briquettes also need replaced if they become brittle or break in your hand.

If your grill is hard to light, check the venturi tubes.

You can have debris that collects here. These are the venturi tubes. They actually have screens on here and people wonder why there are screens on a venture tube, and it’s to keep spiders out. This is a huge thing that can affect the performance of the grill is spiders can get inside these venture tubes and create cobwebs and really affect the flow of the gas, in turn the flame,” Nelson said.

A greasy grill also poses a fire risk.

Once you’ve pulled the food from the grill, allow any excess food to burn off and clean the grill while it’s still warm.

And each time before you cook, Nelson says brush some olive oil on the grids

“This is brush that can get in between the cooking grids and this is a brush that can get on top of the cooking grids,” Nelson said.

When not in use, covering your grill is the easiest and best thing you can do to extend its life by protecting it from the elements.

If you’re in the market for a new grill, remember the more complex the grill, the higher the cost to repair.

“Before you head out to buy a grill be sure to assess what you actually need. How big is your family? How many are you cooking for? You only want to get the accessories that you will actually use because you’ll end up buying some really fancy grill and you want use those things and it might lead to larger repair bills down the road,” Founder Angie Hicks said.

Gas grills should be serviced at least once a year; twice a year if you’re a heavy grill user – cost can start around $75 and go up depending on the make and model.

Angie’s List says give your grill a test run a week or two before the day of the big barbecue to make sure everything is in good working order.

That way, if it does need a new part or repair, you’ll have it working in time for the big cookout.

Grill Repair Common Signs:

·         Uneven cooking surface: An uneven cooking can indicate that the burners are not burning gas at an even rate, which could be a symptom of malfunctioning burners or the gas lines being obstructed.

·         Temperature controls or handles are hot to the touch: If you notice that grill surfaces that used to be cool are now hot to the touch, it could indicate problems with the grill's thermal insulation, deteriorated heat shields or that the burners are not operating correctly.

·         Gas flame is mainly orange or yellow, as opposed to blue: If the flames coming from the burners are more orange or yellow than blue, it's a sign that the gas isn't being fully combusted. The problem could be a blocked gas lines due to spiders or insects, or a blocked port.

·         Flame sputters, grill is hard too light or flames originate from areas other than the burners:  These are additional signs of blockage between the gas tank and the burners. However, if flames are burning in areas other than the burners, it could indicate a leak in one of the gas hoses or tubes - the grill should not be used until the leak is repaired.

·         Smell of gas when grill is used:  This is an indication of a gas leak. There are a number of areas where a leak could originate, including a bad fittings at the gas tank, holes or crack in the fuel supply hoses, or cracks in the burner tubes.

·         Electronic components don't work or don't work properly: Electronic components on some higher end grills, including electronic ignition controls, digital thermometers or temperature controls, can and will fail over time.

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