It is a sad day when you finally break down and decide to get your grill ready for the winter. For me, unfortunately I tend to procrastinate it until the first time the snow starts to fly. I usually end up trying to take care of my grill and drain the water out of my boat engine so I don’t crack the engine block the evening of the first freeze. My hands get all frozen and I chip a tooth trying to hold my flashlight between my teeth while they are chattering away….but anyway, I digress.
I recommend taking the following steps to properly prepare (or winterize) your grill for the winter to ensure a smooth transition to delicious BBQ when it starts to warm up in the spring.
I also recommend you don’t wait until the evening of the first snowfall to winterize your grill as it will save money from not having to go to the dentist to fix your chipped tooth from holding the flashlight between your teeth while you work.
- Start by thoroughly cleaning your grill.
- Clean the grill grates
- Remove the grates and clean the inside of the BBQ Grill
- Clean the outside of the grill
- Refer to your grills owners manual for additional recommendations
- Fix any problems that exist with your grill
- Storing your BBQ Grill for the Winter
I do this by starting the grill up and letting it run on high heat until all the food is burned off of the grill. This usually takes 15-20 minutes and then I let it cool down (usually while I am draining my boat engine :)).
I take my wire grill brush and scrape all of the leftover food off of the grill surface and get things nice and clean while the grill is hot. After the grill has cooled, you can use soapy water to help with the cleaning process or you can even use oven cleaner to help with the tough spots. Make sure you thoroughly rinse the grill grates off with water to remove any soap (or oven cleaner) residue.
When the grill is cool, take out the lava rocks or metal heat deflectors and clean the inside of the grill. This is a good time to install new lava rocks so the grill is all ready for next year.
Wipe down the outside of the grill with a damp cloth. I typically take an old rag and a bucket of hot soapy water and clean every surface of the grill including the propane tank and all hoses with the rag. I even clean and wipe down the inside of the lid where all of that carbon build up exists that looks like peeling black paint. I also take a hose to the cloth grill cover and get that clean as well.
Many grills include a drip pan to catch the drippings from a particularly juicy cut of meat. During this cleaning step, make sure that you empty and clean the drip pan as well.
Some people find that there is caked on food or dirt that has built up over the summer that needs extra attention. You can use cleaners, but be careful using abrasive scouring pads or chemicals to remove caked on stuff so you don’t ruin the paint of the grill. If you are using abrasive cleaners, you might test a small section on the back of the grill to see if the paint will be impacted to avoid ruining the look of your grill.
Refer to your owners manual that came with your grill (or find a copy on your grill manufactures website). Some manufacturers recommend that you wipe down parts of your grill with a light coating of oil to help avoid rust. But others don’t recommend it at all. Make sure that you follow your manufacturers recommendations so you don’t void your grill’s warranty.
Take the opportunity to fix anything wrong with your grill. Make sure all hoses are not aging and have no cracks. Clean all the burnt food off of the elements in the grill and if they are cracked or rusted, order new burners from your grill manufacturer. Fix handles, temperature gauges, etc. anything that will slow you down from a running start in the spring.
Purchase a good grill cover to keep the dirt, rain, snow, etc. from accumulating on the grill. If you are using a grill cover from last year, make sure that it is still in good condition and has no tears or holes. If there are problems, buy a new cover. It is much better to spend $30-$40 on a new cover than $300-$400 on a new grill next year because your grill is rusted out during the wet months of winter and spring. Make sure your grill (and the cover) is completely dry before storing it, so you avoid rust.
If possible, store your grill inside in a dry location away from the rain and snow of winter and spring. A garage, storage room, closet, or even a shed is perfect. If you can’t store it inside, storing it in a covered location to keep the rain and snow off the grill is much better than nothing. Make sure that your grill is stored in way that it can’t fall over. I stored mine on my back deck and during the winter, a big storm hit with a lot of wind. The wind from the storm blew off a bunch of shingles from my roof and also caused my grill to tip over, breaking the front handle of the grill and bent the door underneath the grill. Ordering a new handle and door cost me the equivalent of the first couple of steak dinners for the family in the spring – and made me a little grumpy. Next year I will be more careful on how I store my covered grill.
Taking good care of your grill during the winter months will provide years of extra life to the grill and ensure many seasons of fond family memories.
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Darryl Mathers contributed content to this article. He writes about food & finance. He is a contributing writer at http://healthinsurancequotes.org.