Gas Grill Maintenance: Make your Grill Last Longer

Gas barbecue grills, which will soon be getting heavy-duty use at many homes, should be given a spring cleaning and checkup to ensure efficient and safe performance during the cookout season.

Overall cleaning of a grill, to remove grease, dirt and possibly insect nests, is a good first step. Keep the owner’s manual nearby when working on the grill, in case specific instructions are needed for any of the steps. If the propane- gas tank is already hooked up, make sure it is turned off at the tank valve.

Instructions in this article apply to typical portable gas grills. Stationary grills, attached to posts, have somewhat different construction but the same general steps can be used.

To clean a portable gas grill, remove the cooking grids and briquettes. Unfasten the burner, which is generally held to the bottom of the grill housing with a screw or two, and remove the burner by slipping it and the attached venturi tubes up through the grill housing. Venturi tubes are the long, bent tubes that extend from the bottom of the burner to the gas outlets.

To keep dirt and debris out of the gas outlets while cleaning, wrap the nozzles with aluminum foil. The gas outlets are generally located at the front of the grill under the control panel. Be sure to remove the foil after cleaning is finished.

Dirt and grease can be scraped from inside the housing with a putty knife or paint scraper. Use paper towels or rags to wipe loose debris from the housing, and then scrub the interior grill housing with soapy water and a stiff brush. A soft brush should be used on the painted exterior of the housing. Rinse the housing with clear water and let dry.

Clean the burner by wire-brushing the entire outer surface. If necessary, use a piece of paper-clip wire or a wood toothpick to open any clogged holes in the burner. Clean the venturi tubes with a long-handled tube brush, sold at grill -supply stores, or a bottlebrush. The venturi tubes need special attention because they sometimes attract nesting critters such as spiders, which can prevent gas delivery to the burner.

Clean the cooking grid with soap and water, using a soft brush if necessary to remove debris. The grate that holds the briquettes can be cleaned with a stiff wire brush.

Inspect the propane tank carefully for rust or corrosion that could develop into leaks. If a tank is badly rusted or dented, take it to a propane dealer for replacement. Check the rubber fuel line that runs from the tank to the gas outlets and make sure it is free of cracks or cuts.