Before heading outside with the burgers, brats and buns, it's a good idea to give your grill the once over. “A grill is just like any other appliance," said Angie's List founder, Angie Hicks. "If you give it a lot of TLC it will last you a number of years.”
Angie’s List , the nation’s leading provider of consumer reviews, asked highly rated grill experts to help make sure your barbecue bash doesn’t flame out.
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.
Angie’s List Tips: How to Maintain Your Grill
- Annual checkup: Just like your car, annual service checks on your grill are a good idea. Your gas grill should be serviced at least once a year; twice a year if you’re a heavy grill user.
- Clean and spider free: Before you fire it up for the season, give your grill a good scrub to get rid of food, grease and – spider webs. Spiders are attracted to the smell of propane and they can take up residence in the venturi tubes and valve openings, blocking air and gas flow and leading to uneven cooking and possible safety hazards. Use a pipe cleaning brush to clear the tubes.
- Test drive: 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.
- Fuel check: Check that you have enough gas or coals for your grill before you fire it up. You can add a gauge to your propane tank to help detect levels. For charcoal users, generally use about 30 coals per pound of meat, with the charcoal extending about one inch beyond the area where the food is.
- Keep it clean. A greasy grill is more likely a fire risk. Once you’ve pulled the food from the grill, allow any excess food to burn off and then clean the grill with a brass bristle brush while it’s still warm. It’s far easier to clean than waiting until food and grease settles and hardens. Clean the drip pan regularly.
- Replace ceramic briquettes: Once they become brittle, the briquettes need to be replaced. A good test: if you crumble or break one with your hand. Flip the briquettes ever five or six grillings.
- Protect your grill: Covering your grill when it’s not in use is the easiest and best thing you can do to protect it from the elements. During colder months, store it out of the elements.
If you decide on a new one, Hicks advises you not to buy more grill then you need. “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.”