Keeping your grill ready for summer cookouts

Memorial Day weekend typically kicks off the start of the grilling season. If it’s been a while since you fired up your grill, a checkup may be in order.

“We love the outdoors,” said homeowner Deidre Pettinga. “We have a big backyard patio and pool and backyard seating area so we love spending time outdoors.”

Pettinga and her family grill out year round, so it’s important to her that the grill is professionally cleaned and inspected each year. She continues to take excellent care of the former homeowners’ gas grill.

“We’ve been here for 12 years and they were here maybe five years before that, so that grill is going on 20 years old, and we are keeping it like new,” Pettinga added.

Your grill is like any appliance: with proper maintenance and care, it can give you years of great use. Common grill problems that can develop over time are clogged or greasy burners.

“What can happen to burners is they can corrode over time,” said grill repairman Aaron Nelson. “They are being heated up so much and cooled down that the burner can rust and corrode. Most burners can last five to eight years, but eventually they need replacement like a lot of parts on the grill.”

Ceramic briquettes also need to be replaced if they become brittle or break in your hand. If your grill is hard to light, check the venturi tubes.

“You can have debris that collects inside here,” Nelson said. “These are the venturi tubes, and they actually have screens on here. People wonder ‘why is there a screen on this venturi tube,’ and it’s to keep spiders out. Spiders actually can get inside these venturi tubes and create cobwebs and really really affect the flow of the gas, in turn, the flame.”

A greasy grill also poses a fire risk. Once you’ve pulled the food from the grill, allow any excess food to burn off and clean the grill while it’s still warm. Before you cook, Nelson says you should brush olive oil on the grids.

“This is a brush that can actually kind of get in between the cooking grids, and then this is kind of a brush that can get on top of the cooking grids,” added Nelson.

When not in use, covering your grill is the easiest and best thing you can do to extend its life. If you’re in the market for a new grill, remember the more complex the grill, the higher the cost to repair.

“Before you head out to buy a grill, be sure to assess what you actually need,” added Angie’s List founder Angie Hicks. “How big is your family? How many are you cooking for? Because you only want to get the accessories that you will actually use because you end up buying some really fancy grill and (if) you don’t use those things, it might just lead to larger repair bills down the road.”

Gas grills should be serviced at least once a year, or twice a year if you’re a heavy grill user. The cost for this service can start around $75 and go up depending on the make and model. Angie’s List says to give your grill a test run a week or two before the day of the big barbecue to make sure everything is in good working order. That way, if it does need a new part or repair, you’ll have it working in time for the big cookout.