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Prepping Your Grills for Backyard BBQs

Nothing says summertime quite like a backyard BBQ with family and friends.  Summer is the official hamburger and hot dog season.  First, you will want to clean and test your grill to make sure it’s ready for all those great summer cookouts.  If you haven’t used your grill in a few weeks, it’s a good idea to check the grate before cooking. Nothing will ruin a great day of grilling like the taste of rust in your meat! If it’s been more than a month since you last used the equipment, it’s a good idea to do a thorough inspection, or get an authorized professional to do a grill inspection to make sure it’s in good working order and possibly a deep clean or steam clean.

If you are a regular grill master, you can most likely do this yourself.  Below are a few tips.

If you have a gas grill, heat it up for about 20-30 minutes and then scrub the grates clean with a grill brush. For a charcoal grill, grab a bucket of hot, soapy water and clean with a sponge.

You will also want to clean the heat shields (or ceramic briquettes or lava rocks) and the grill burners.  Heat shields, ceramic briquettes or lava rocks will wear out eventually.  So, you should carefully inspect during cleaning. If your briquettes or lava rocks are starting to crumble when you clean them, it’s  time to replace them. However, cracks or nicks on a few briquettes shouldn’t be a problem. If they’re mostly intact, they should work fine.

Heat shields, on the other hand, are often the first thing to wear out on a grill. If your heat shields are warped or rusty, they are unable to heat evenly.  That means it’s probably time to replace them as well.

Now, remove the burner tubes and clean them thoroughly. Use a stiff wire brush to clean the exterior and clear off any light dirt. Gently brush across the ports to remove any grease and debris (brushing along the ports can push dirt into them). If your tubes are very dirty, you can also try using a pipe cleaner, a paperclip or other small metal object to remove any blockages. Check your burners for any rust. If your burners are rusty, damaged or have large holes, they should be replaced.

Next, clean out the firebox and the drip tray.  The firebox can get very grimy and may have debris built up in it if you haven’t cleaned your grill for a while. However, the firebox can be easily cleaned.  If you have a shop vac, you may want to vacuum out any debris as a first step. Otherwise, scoop or brush it out of the box. If you don’t have a shop vac, a hand broom and dustpan will work just as well.  Then spray the firebox and the inside of the cover with a degreaser, and wait a few minutes for it to set in. Then, scrub away!

After a few uses, the drip pan can get pretty gross. Carefully remove it and dump debris into the trash. Then, wash it with soap and water, dry it and return it to the grill.

To ensure proper grill safety, check hoses for cracks, holes and blockages.  Make sure your gas regulator is functioning properly.  It is also a good idea to spray some WD-40 around the gas valve stem to keep it lubricated.  For safety, be sure to place your grill 10 feet or more away from any structures, railings or other flammable items before firing it up.  Now it’s to enjoy some grill time and all the tasty meals.

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