After the winter much of the country has experienced, it’s hard to believe spring will ever arrive. But on March 20, spring does officially return, and with it the promise of grilling in your shirtsleeves, not in a parka. Which brings us to spring cleaning your grill—a good practice even if you’ve been grilling all winter. Last year we told you how to prep your charcoal grill or smoker for the grilling season. This time, the focus is on gas grills.
- Spring cleaning: Evict any spiders or other nesting critters and clear out the cobwebs or other debris from the manifolds, burner valves, connectors, etc. Compressed air (available canned if you don’t own an air compressor) is an efficient way to do this. Empty and clean the grease trap or drip pan; replace any disposables, such as foil pans, if needed.
- More spring cleaning: Use a commercial grill cleaner such as the ones made by Green Earth Technologies and Citrusafe or a product like Simple Green to clean the interior and any internal parts, such as baffles, flavorizer bars, etc. If your grill is polished stainless steel, use a commercial stainless steel cleaner on the exterior, or wipe it down with a soft cloth using a mixture of water, mild dish soap, and white vinegar. Replace ceramic briquettes as needed.
- Leak patrol: For safety’s sake, ensure there are no leaks in your fuel delivery system. Inspect the hoses: They should not be crimped or brittle. The propane tank should not be bulging, rusted, or compromised in any way. (If it is, exchange it.) If you disconnected the tank for the winter, reconnect it. Make a leak detection solution by combining 2 tablespoons of liquid dish soap with 2 tablespoons of water. Leaving the burners in the “off” position, open the valve to the propane tank. If you smell gas, brush the leak detection solution on the hoses and couplings and look for bubbling. Replace any failed parts and repeat the test before lighting your grill. Note: This is rare, but it does happen.
- Igniters on: Press the igniter button. If you do not hear a clicking noise or see a spark, change the battery by unscrewing the lock nut at the base of the button or behind the control panel. Most take an AA battery. I replace mine every season.
- Clear the burner tubes: Remove the grill grate and baffles or flavorizer bars. Light your grill (be sure to raise the lid first), then observe the burners. If any holes seem plugged, clear them using a bent paper clip, pin, or thin piece of wire. Severely clogged burners may need to be replaced.
- Fuel up: Don’t let a near-empty tank of propane ruin your first barbecue of the season. If you don’t have a gas level indicator, pour a cup of boiling water over the outside of the tank: The water will condense at the gas level. Or, remove the tank and weigh it: A full tank weighs about 38 pounds. There are now several apps for iPhones and Androids that gauge the amount of propane you have on hand by analyzing the sound the tank makes when you tap it. An example is the TankMeter. In any case, always have a spare tank on hand.