Getting your BBQ ready for Summer


The kickoff for the 2023 bar-b-cue season is here! It’s time to start planning your menus and to dust off your outdoor cooking appliances. Even if you’ve properly covered and stored your equipment, a good pre-cook inspection and clean-up is in order. Here are a few tips to make sure your BBQ is ready to go.

First off, be sure to check the owner’s manual for your equipment. It will may list specific items you’ll need to check for your model.

If your grill had any drippings or food particles left behind, there a chance it’s attracted critters. Insects and rodents will gladly help themselves to any bits of food they find, and some may even have made themselves a little nest over the Winter. If you do find signs of “visitation”, you’ll need to clean that up. It might be helpful to wear a dust mask at this stage. Use a shop vac or damp paper towel to remove anything they’ve left behind. You may want to completely wipe down the surfaces with disinfectant, but the cooking area will be sterilized once you get the fire going. Grills can be soaked and scrubbed, or simply heat them and use a wire-brush.

Don’t forget about drip pans and buckets. If your unit has disposable liners, go ahead and start the season off right with new ones.

For charcoal and wood burning grills, it’s a good idea to completely remove and dispose all ashes from last season. Some units work best with a bed of ashes. If so, be sure to spend a little extra time before your first cook, and burn some wood or charcoal, to build up a nice ash bed.

If using a pellet stove, you’ll want to vacuum out the firepot. Ashes can buildup and harden, reducing the effectiveness of your system. It’s a good idea to do this after every 20 hours or so of usage. Consult your owner’s manual for instructions.

Regardless of what type of BBQ you have, be sure to check for signs of rust, especially underneath the unit. You don’t want embers, grease or food falling out of your cooker.

Next, you’ll want to check your fuel.

Gas Grills

If you have a gas-fired grill, check the hoses for leaks. You’ll want to closely examine for signs of aging and cracking. Also make sure that critters haven’t gnawed on your fuel lines. A spray bottle with a mixture of soap and water is a good way to spot leaks. Look for bubbles forming where gas is leaking out. Replace and repair any faulty components before you light it, otherwise your bbq season could start off with a bang.

Charcoal Grills

It’s been a long, wet winter. So that charcoal you thought was properly stored may have gotten a little wet. If it did, it should still be ok to use, once dried. If it is a “match-light” variety, you may need to use some lighter fluid to start the coals. Any briquettes that have completely crumbled should be discarded, as they can be difficult to burn thoroughly and properly.

Pellet Cookers

Wood pellets are particularly vulnerable to moisture. Since they are compressed sawdust, they can absorb humidity in the air. This can cause them to swell and break apart. Pellets should be stored in an airtight container, such as a bucket with a lid, to prevent this from happening.

If you didn’t remove the pellets from the hopper last season, you’ll want to check them. Empty the hopper, and inspect the feed tube, looking for swollen pellets and loose sawdust. These can cause the auger to jam, causing a shutdown and even a fire. If you find any crumbled pellets, be sure to vaccum them all out before you start your stove. Auger units can be difficult to disassemble and inspect, and they can be expensive to replace. So it’s always a good idea to follow your manufacurer’s instructions, and keep them maintained.

Bar-b-cue time!

If you have a big bar-b-cue planned, it’s a good idea to do this ahead of time, perhaps a day or two beforehand. Give yourself time to make unexpected repairs. There’s nothing more frustrating than having a setback when you’re trying to feed a hungry group. You don’t want to take any shortcuts when it comes grill safety.

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