The heat is on, and that means firing up the grill for outdoor summer dining. Whether your family’s meals are prepared on a basic barbecue grill or in an outdoor kitchen, make it easier for the chef in charge by performing some routine maintenance before, during, and after party season.
The following tips will ensure that everything runs smoothly, with more time to focus on summer fun than worrying about whether the BBQ flame will ignite.
A grill that won’t light, smokes too much, or cooks unevenly can ruin any summer get-together. After even minimal use, grease, marinades, and sauces can be disastrous for gas burners, and charcoal grills can suffer from the corrosive properties of charcoal if not cleaned regularly.
- From simple kettles to stainless steel restaurant-quality infrared grills, be sure to pull them apart at least twice a year for inspection.
- Scrub rust away with a stiff wire brush or coarse steel wool. Apply a rust-inhibiting primer, and paint the exterior with rust-resistant metal paint.
- Keep fasteners tight to ensure the base is stable and safe.
- Replace damaged grill appendages such as wheels, handles, or any other part of your grill, by contacting the manufacturer.
- Use dish soap or a mild detergent to clean cast-aluminum grills, and something like Simple Green all-purpose, biodegradable cleaner for stainless steel models.
- Burner ports can fill with grease and seal up, forming hot and cold spots on the grill. While the unit is cold, use a stainless steel wire brush or flexible pipe cleaner to remove the buildup from a traditional gas burner. The flames should be distributed evenly throughout the burner after a good cleaning.
- Brush off any ash that accumulates on infrared grills, and try to always keep the glass clean. Running the grill for 10 minutes on high after cooking helps keep the ports free of gunk.
- Grill grease traps are typically trays or disposable aluminum cups beneath the firebox that collect fat. Keep them clean and drained because large pools of grease can ignite.
- The area between the burner and the grate evenly distributes heat to the grate above and produces smoke when food drippings seep down. Brush off grease and debris from the metal plates because they can trap moisture and cause rusting. Replace lava rocks or ceramic briquettes if they produce a rancid flavor.
- Using a grill cover grill to provide protection from the elements is the easiest way to prolong a BBQ’s life. The best covers have a cloth inner lining to draw moisture away from the metal. A simple plastic sheet only holds moisture in, creating a humid environment around the grill, which can lead to rusting. Use a canvas, cloth, or vinyl cover that fits the grill appropriately. Remember that UV rays beak down cheaper, generic covers.
Outdoor kitchen maintenance
To keep your outdoor cafe operating as well as an indoor variety, make a habit of these maintenance tips:
- Granite countertops are popular for outdoor kitchens because they look fabulous and can withstand a lot of heat. But the stone still needs protection from ultraviolet light. Seal the stone every three to five years, preferably using a professional who will use a commercial grade sealer that will better withstand weather conditions.
- The natural and manufactured stone used on kitchen islands can be power-washed. Doing so once a year removes stains from grass clippings, grill smoke, food grease buildup, or mildew that may have settled on the outdoor kitchen surfaces.
- Even if your appliances are rated for outdoor use, there’s no need to keep them connected if they won’t be used for months. Turn off the gas to the grill and unplug the appliances. If nothing else, you’ll save on utility bills.
- If you have a lawn to mow, direct the clippings from the mower away from the outdoor kitchen area, or use a grass catcher. If some dirt and grass shavings get on the patio or facade, use a broom or leaf blower to remove the debris before it dries and stains your surface, or hose down the area. Do the same if a heavy storm blows dirt and debris onto the area.
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Sources: This Old House & Angie’s List
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