Grill Selection - Maintenance

Cameron Huntley - Monday, February 28, 2011
Grill Selection
Making the Right Choice

Grill Maintenance

When choosing a new grill, one of the most important and often over-looked aspects is that of maintenance.  Proper grill maintenance not only prolongs the useful life of the unit but will provide the owner years of enjoyment when cooking on a trouble free unit.  When researching your next big investment be sure to note not only the materials of which the unit is made but the ease with which such items such as the grill grates, sear grates, drip pan and gas burners can be accessed for cleaning or replacement.  If possible find a dealer and inspect the unit personally.  Look into the burner box of the grill and check to see if you will be able to clean this area easily.  What is the grill grating made of? Are they heavy chromed steel or cast iron? Both work equally well and sometimes the cast grates are reversible as well.  If possible ask to look at the owner’s manual.  Check the maintenance section in the manual.  Does the upkeep required by the manufacturer meet you expectations?

A high quality grill should not only have all the characteristics of the above but should be constructed of high quality components such as 304 stainless steel and heavy cast aluminum especially in the firebox.  Nuts, bolts, brackets and burners should be made of stainless as well.  All these components help keep the grill easy to maintain.

Generally speaking, proper maintenance involves thorough and timely cleaning of the cooking surfaces and the removal of debris which accumulates in the firebox and on the burners.  All too often we are only interested with cleaning the grates and pay little heed to what drops onto the burners.  If the grill develops hot spots during cooking, chances are the burners have become dirty or clogged which inhibits the flow of gas from the burner orifices which makes some sections of the burners hotter than others.  Burner failure may result if this uneven heating is prolonged.   

A general maintenance schedule might be as follows:
- Clean all grilling surfaces by brushing with a wire brush upon finishing cooking.
- Every 3-4 months or sooner (if the grill is used heavily), inspect and clean the fire box.  Use a wire brush and a plastic putty knife to scrape the sides and bottom of the firebox and a small wire brush for the burners.  Once the process is complete, wipe out all particles with a soft rag or simply use a shop vacuum.
- For heavy duty cleaning heat the grill to 400 degrees Fahrenheit then spray the cooking surfaces with white vinegar.  Wait a few minutes and brush as usual.
- Protect the outside of the grill from the weather.  

To make the job easier look for food safe cleaners and avoid using oven cleaners that contain sodium hydroxide as this will eat through aluminum.

-Todd Smith
W.P. Law, Inc.
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