Barbecue Maintenance Frequently Asked Questions

Gas and Electric Barbecue Maintenance

A note on barbecue maintenance: Barbecues can be dangerous if you don’t know how to use them. If you’re not experienced with barbecue problems, especially ones that involve gas, we suggest calling an expert.

My burner has a low flame. Why does my barbecue does not get hot enough?

If you’re turning the knobs on high, and there is a flame, but it’s not getting hot enough it could be one of several problems. One possible issue is that the regulator (the part that controls gas flow to the barbecue) may be stuck. If it is a propane grill you may have activated a safety feature known as QCC1. This feature will activate if it detects a sudden flow of gas. This feature can accidentally be activated if the propane cylinder valve is opened with the control knobs in the “ON” position.

Here’s how to correct this:

  • Turn off the tank and the barbecue grill.
  • Disconnect the regulator from the tank.
  • Reconnect the regulator to the tank then very slowly turn the tank back on.
  • This will reset the regulator, and allow normal gas flow.
  • If this does not resolve the issue, there may be a leak in the system causing the QCC 1 feature to be activated.
  • Follow the steps to perform a "leak test" to determine the source of the leak.
  • Lastly, the hose and regulator may need to be replaced due to the fitting on the regulator which could be activating the safety feature.

Other issues could be:

  • If it’s on natural gas, the Water Column Pressure may need to be checked by our Certified Gas Fitters.
  • Your burner may have a blockage, preventing proper gas and air flow. Here’s how to fix it:
    • When cool, remove your burner and inspect the ports.
    • If the ports are blocked, clean with a soft bristle brush.
    • Alternately, you can clear the debris out by poking blocked holes with a paper clip (or another tool small enough – never drill or file portholes, enlarging them will damage your burner).
    • Now clean out the burner venturi tubes with a venturi brush - pull out the brush and examine for any debris.

Why won’t my grill light?

If you’re sure the propane tank isn’t empty, this is most likely a problem with the igniter or burners. Turn the burner knobs on low and try to ignite with a long handled lighter. If it lights, the igniter likely needs to be replaced. If it doesn’t light, it could be a problem with the burners or the gas flow. Weather, critters and shear impatience could also easily be the problem – here are some simple fixes:

  • Weather:
    • Your grill may have trouble lighting in the damp weather because the Ignition System has a ceramic base for the electrode where the spark comes out. Although that ceramic base is ideal for helping the Ignition System light your grill, it is porous and will retain moisture. If this is the case, manually light the burners using a match or lighter, and leave the grill on with the lid closed for 5 minutes. This will warm everything up and dry it all out. The grill will happily light from there.
  • Have Patience:
    • Give enough time for the gas to get there. In some Ignition Systems there is only one spark when you turn the knob and hear that click, in this case you need to give it an extra moment to kindle.
    • Allow the gas to flow for 3 to 5 seconds before turning the knob all the way; ensuring there is fuel for your fire. This is especially true for your Infrared Side Burner. There is more surface area for the gas to get to. When lighting the Infrared Side Burner remember to let the gas flow for a count of five before attempting to light. Don’t leave it for much longer though, or you may have gas filling the air, which means potential explosions. Not fun.
  • Spiders:
    • Check the pilot bracket (where the gas comes out); you may have an insect nest blocking gas flow. Use a little brush to clean that out. Now you should easily be able to light your grill.

Can my barbecue explode?

Barbecues use propane or natural gas. These are combustible gases. So, yes, they can cause explosions. But there are a few common-sense steps you can take that will prevent them.

The first sign of a problem is if you smell gas around your grill. If it smells like gas, talks like gas, walks like’s gas! In this case, check your propane tank for a leak with some soapy water. Don’t ignite the grill until you’re sure there’s no gas leaking into the air.

If you open the propane tank and the igniter is not working after a few attempts, don’t keep hitting that igniter. During the time your igniter is being a pain-in-the-butt, gas is filling the air around your barbecue. Remember how these are combustible? If gas is all over the place, it’s going to be ‘boom’ all over the place.

If the igniter isn’t working, turn off the propane tank, give the air a few waves to disperse the gas, and wait a couple minutes before trying again. If the igniter doesn’t work again, repeat these instructions except use a long-handled lighter and think about replacing that igniter.

Try to keep your grill at least ten feet from the house and on a non-flammable surface to reduce the risk of fires. Every barbecue has a minimum distance to combustibles in the owner’s manual. And again, if you’re concerned that your grill has a serious issue that may cause a fire, please call an expert.

Why does my barbecue have high flames and flare-ups?

This is a John Travolta problem. You likely have too much grease in the grill, or too much marinade on the food that you placed on the grill.

Why does my gas grill have a yellow flame?

The flame on your grill should be almost fully blue. Yellow flame could mean a problem with your regulator. See Why won’t my barbecue heat up or get hot enough? for how to fix that.

You might have a gas leak, in which case you need to do a soap test. Or you may need to clean out your venturi tubes with a venturi brush. Lastly, this could be a case of dirty burners. In which case you should opt for a cleaner and degreaser and get to work.

Why won’t my barbecue cook evenly?

Most likely part of your burner is blocked or clogged. Take a steel brush to that sucker. Just make sure it’s not lit first. Obviously.

My barbecue is smoking, and not in the ‘mmm smoked brisket’ way. What does this mean?

If you have smoke and you’re not trying to cook with it, it’s an easy fix: clean your grill. There’s likely charred food on your burners or grill. Use these cleaning tools.

My barbecue keeps catching on fire! Why? How can I prevent this?

Again, clean it. Or let some of that marinade drip off the meat before you put it on the grill.

How should I clean my barbecue? How often should I clean it?

The main things are: clean the grates before every use, wipe down the burners once in a while, remove the excess debris from the plates under the burners every so often. Use some of these tools.

This article has more details on cleaning.

My cast iron cooking grids are rusty. What should I do?

Your grids may rust if they have not been properly seasoned or maintained. Follow these steps to remove the rust and re-season your grids.

  • With the lid open, turn the control knobs to the MEDIUM HIGH position. Close the lid and wait ten minutes. This will help burn off excess food debris and oils. Then, open the lid and turn the control knobs to the off position. Clean your grids by removing any excess food and oils using a stainless steel barbecue grill brush.
  • Spread a thin coating of cooking oil over the top and bottom of the cast iron grids with a basting brush or oil mister. Be certain the entire surface, including all corners, have been coated thoroughly. NOTE: We recommend you use one of our Barbecue Cleaners and Degreasers, but for a quick at home version you can use vegetable, canola, sunflower oil or vegetable shortening. DO NOT use salted fat such as margarine or butter. They burn off at a really low heat and will not protect the grids and stay away from olive oils.

My barbecue is making a strange humming noise. What’s going on?

It’s a Transformer speaking to the other Transformers. Or it’s a loose slide-out tray. Or potentially the regulator making noise due to changes in pressure. Not generally a huge issue.

Why does my electric grill keep turning off?

It’s likely that a circuit breaker got tripped. Find your breaker panel and flip the switch connected to the outlet. It could be, in rare cases, a short in the grill’s element.

Do I need a cover to protect my barbecue?

It’s a good idea, especially if you use your barbecue in the winter months. Barbecues are made to withstand the elements but eventually moisture could rust your barbecue if you don’t have a proper barbecue cover. You also want to prevent birds or squirrels from making a home in your barbecue. Unless, of course, you want grilled squirrel for your Sunday dinner. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

What kind of regular maintenance does my barbecue need?

Even the sturdiest barbecues need a little TLC. In order to keep your barbecue functioning well, check for gas leaks, make sure you have a good cover, and clean it regularly. Here’s a good article with more details.

Can I leave my barbecue outside in the winter? What about the propane tank?

Barbecues are really a person’s best friend because, unlike a dog, you can leave them outside in the winter. Just give it a really good cleaning in the fall, and cover it with a good barbecue cover (and make sure to fasten it to the grill, especially if your backyard is open to the wind).

Leave your propane tank shut off and connected to the grill. If, for some reason, you bring the grill inside for the winter, do NOT bring your propane tank indoors (even into the garage). It can be dangerous if it leaks.

Can I put my grill grates in the dishwasher?

As long they aren’t cast iron, you can. However, it’s probably not needed. Just use the cleaning methods described above