Ed. note: It’s that time of year, so here’s our grill safety and maintenance post once again.
Summertime, and the grilling is easy! Everybody loves food cooked outdoors, whether on a gas, charcoal/pellet, or electric grill or smoker. But, as with any heating or cooking appliance, grills require regular maintenance, and some basic safety precautions to keep you, your family, and your home safe.
Let’s start with the safety precautions:
- Never use your grill indoors; carbon monoxide can build up in an enclosed space, posing a significant health hazard to everyone in the home.
- Grills should never be used underneath a deck or balcony, or directly next to a wooden structure. Keep your grill away from flammable materials, and make sure that all children and animals stay at least three feet away from it.
- When starting a gas grill, the lid should always be open. If the flame has gone out (blown out by the wind, for example), turn off the grill, wait 15 minutes for the propane to dissipate, then re-ignite the pilot.
- Before you use your grill for the first time each year, be sure to check the gas line and connections. You can do this by applying a soap-and-water solution to the hose, gasketing, and connector valves. If bubbles form, there is a leak. Turn the gas off immediately and wait to see if the leak stops. If it does stop, be sure to have your grill serviced by a professional before trying to use it again; if the leak does not stop, call the fire department. If you smell gas while cooking, get away from the grill and call the fire department.
- If you’re storing your propane grill during the off-season, disconnect the gas tank and store it outdoors, never in the house or garage.
- And, of course, always read the user manual that comes with your grill, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding use and proper maintenance of the grill.
As to maintenance:
- Clean cooking grids and drip trays thoroughly. Grease and salt speed up corrosion, and pooled grease can easily ignite.
- In addition to checking for gas leaks, check all valves and connectors for rust and other corrosion. Remove all rust with a wire brush, and apply a rust-proof paint or sealant to the area.
- After you finish grilling, leave the grill on high for about 10 minutes; this will vaporize most of the remaining drippings and grease (although you should still clean your grill thoroughly at the beginning and end of grill season).
- Protect your grill with a fabric-lined grill cover. A tarp or other non-breathable cover can trap moisture inside, speeding up the rusting process.
- Finally, have your grill cleaned, serviced, and inspected by a qualified technician once a year.
Enjoy your grilling, and have a safe and happy summer cooking season!