Whether grilling is a year long pursuit, or a Memorial Day to Labor Day treat, the spring is a great time to clean, tune up and inspect your outdoor cooking apparatus. After a long winter, both dormant and active grills require a little love to keep them fired up through another season. Don't wait until the last minute. Grab a warm afternoon, a cold beer and get ready for a little tender loving grill care.
Here is my big offender and often times, the grill most in need of a good scrub and clean. Although on the Weber, the flavorizer bars do a great job of helping grease burn off, they do nothing for the pounds of asparagus and eggplant I lose through the grates. To remedy, I disassemble everything. Start by shutting off and disconnecting the gas supply.
At the minimum, clean the burner tubes with a stainless steel wire brush.
If it has been some time since the burner tubes have been removed and cleaned, it might be a good idea to consider it. If you have observed inconsistent, or nonexistent, burner flame, there may be blockage. Spiders and other bugs are known to crawl inside and make homes and thus block the gas/air flow. Consult your owner's manual for how to do this.
With the tubes cleaned, work on down towards the fire box and drip pan.
Fire Box/Drip Pan
The tool of choice here is a putty knife. For the most part, a good scrape will remove most of the crud. The fire box and drip pan should be kept relatively "clean". Excessive food and grease build up could lead to a fire.
Also, one of the most important parts to check on the gas grill is just that, the gas. Whether using propane or natural gas, it's always a good idea to check the connections. Several years ago during one of my spring cleanings, I found a damaged gas connection. Cookout turned fiery explosion is a pretty good way of ruining a night.
To test the connections, turn the gas on and use soapy water and a brush to "paint" the joints. A leaky joint will "blow bubbles". A solid connection will not. The joint below is solid and air tight.
On the Summit, I find the stainless steel grates very easy to keep clean through pre-heating, brushing and pre-meal oiling. However, when I had my old Broilmaster, the porcelain coated grates were horrible and a bit more of a challenge. There are several over the counter cleaners available for grate cleaning, but more often than not soapy water should do the trick. Realistically, a good grilling regiment each time you cook should almost eliminate any extra grate cleaning.
Stainless steel is nice, but it can be tricky to keep super clean and shiny. Properly covering the grill after use is the first line of defense. Granted, I have been known to forget this rule from time to time...
Usually, soap and water works for most grime. For a shine, use Bar Keepers Friend. In fact, when it comes to putting some serious sparkle back in stainless, BKF works great.
Now when I have a massive mess, I turn to the big gun: Greased Lightning degreaser. For difficult stains, nothing works better. No matter what you use, be sure it is not abrasive. Stainless steel can easily scratch and scratches can lead to rust.
A charcoal grill is easy to keep running in tip top shape. My Performer is 13 years old and although still going strong, has needed the occasional part.
Usually the charcoal grate, which is the grate the coals sit on, needs replaced. This year it looked pretty good.
However, after removing the charcoal grate I knew I had a problem.
Although the burner tube looks rough, it still works. The ash movers, or whatever their official name is, were a different story. There are supposed to be three, not two. Fortunately, Weber makes it incredibly easy to order replacement parts, even if your grill is older. Thanks to a quick web order, I had a new cleaning system in no time.
After a little bit of work getting the old system off, the new system installed in under a minute. Just like new.
As with the gas grill, I cleaned the outside of the grill primarily with soap and water. In no time it was ready to go.
No matter what type of grill you have, check the owner's manual. If the manual has gone the way of the trash, most brands can be found with a quick Google search.
A little bit of preventative time in the spring can go a long way to make this summer's grilling safer and the life expectancy of your grill last a little longer. Plus, nothing says happiness like a clean grill. Now where's that beer...