Grilling season is just around the corner, now is the time to get your grill in shape for your next backyard bash. Here are some things you’ll need to do to get your grill ready for summer barbecues.
Clean the Grill’s Interior and Exterior Surfaces
The exterior of your grill will likely be covered in dust, if you haven’t used it for several months. Use a non-scratch sponge or cloth rag to wipe down all the surfaces with warm, soapy water. Dry the surface thoroughly to prevent streaks and possible corrosion. For stainless steel surfaces, wipe along the direction of the grain.
If you have any chipped paint, scratches or rust spots, clean them thoroughly and apply some touch up paint to cover them. Use paint that is designed to handle high temperatures and never use paint on any surface that comes into contact with food or lies directly above the food surface area, such as the hood interior.
Clean the Burners
Remove the grates and clean the burners and interior of the cooker. Use warm soapy water with a non-scratch sponge. If there’s a lot of gunk built up on the burners, avoid jamming it into the gas holes, this could plug them up and create cold spots. If you see any debris, clean out the holes out with a toothpick or a paperclip.
Clean and Season the Grates
If your grates were left out in the elements all winter long and now they’re covered with rust, go out and go buy new ones. Nobody wants a rusty burger on the first day of summer, so just change them out.
If the grates are still in good shape, clean them by dry scrubbing with a non-scratch sponge or nylon brush. If you’ve got stainless steel or untreated metal grates, use a standard wire grill brush. Once you remove that top layer of grease and gunk buildup, inspect the grates closely to see if they rusted out. If they are, replace them. Your grates will need to be seasoned with a light coat of cooking oil, just make sure they have been thoroughly cleaned first and that there is no rust spots.
Clean the inside of the hood, remove the black flakes, they are built up layers of grease, and they could catch fire. Scrub them down with a cloth or sponge with hot, soapy water.
Inspect the Propane Tank and Gas Lines
Inspect the propane tank and gas lines, since a gas leak could be very dangerous. First, check out the tank to see if it is empty. If the tank feels pretty empty, get a refill before your next big BBQ.
Next, inspect the hoses and connections. Coat the hoses and connections with a light layer of that soapy water and then turn on the gas. Look for bubbles forming on the hose and joints. If there are bubbles on some at the connections, then tighten them and try again. If that doesn’t fix it, then you might need to replace them.
Clean Out the Grease Trap or Ash Trap
Recreational grillers need to remember to clean the traps out. Grease traps present major fire hazards, so dump them regularly and give them a good cleaning with warm, soapy water at least once a year. Ash traps for charcoal grills need to be dumped fairly often, as well as the bottom interior of the grill where most of the charcoal ashes gather.
Test for Hot and Cool Spots
Now that your grates, burners, and grill cooker is cleaned inside and out, it’s almost time to start grilling. But first, you need to figure out the hot spots and cool spots so you can use them strategically.
Lay out several slices of white bread to cover every square inch of your grate. Do this while everything is still cool and the fire is not yet lit. If you start the fire first and then start laying the bread out, you’ll risk defeating the whole purpose of this little experiment.
After the grate is covered with bread slices, fire up the grill and turn all the burners on. Let them run for a couple minutes before shutting them off. Then flip over your bread slices and take a quick picture with your smartphone or camera. Now you’ll know where your hot spots and cold spots are.
Once everything cools down, check the burners again. If you can’t seem to fix the problem burners, then you will have to make a decision whether to change them out or use them as-is.
Getting your grill ready for summer does not have to be a big deal. Follow these grill prep tips and you will be ready to get your grill on in no time.