Winterizing your grill keeps your grill in top shape throughout the year. You probably clean your grill quite often during grilling season, but what do you do with your grill when winters rolls around? Cold weather conditions can introduce a whole host of problems that can ruin your grill if you don't prepare for it. Most appliances need year-round attention to function properly, even if they are not being used year-round. Grills are no exception.
Why Winterize Your Grill?
Winterizing outdoor kitchen appliances keeps certain problems at bay. If you don't go through the winterizing process, you risk ruining your grill. For example, if you do not prepare your grill for storage, animals may take up residence inside your grill. Mice, squirrels, chipmunks, spiders, and insects are attracted to the leftover oil and food particles inside the grill. They might think your grill makes a great nesting place, which may lead to an unwelcome surprise in the spring when it's time to fire up the grill for the first time!
The grease and food residue inside your grill can do more than attract wild animals and insects. If it is trapped inside your grill, the resulting moisture from that concoction can lead to corrosion of the metal interior parts and even mold, if it doesn't get too cold where you live.
Leaving your grill unnoticed and abandoned for a few months of the year is a bad idea. Extend your grill's lifespan by following a few simple steps to winterize your grill.
Steps to Winterize Your Grill
1. Heat Up Your Grill One Last Time
Before you put the grill away for the season, you need to get it hot one more time. If you have a gas grill, turn all the burners on high. For charcoal grills, get the fire hot, and let it burn for about 20 minutes. If you're getting smoke, that means you're still burning off food particles and grease, so keep it going until the smoke clears. You want all that grime and grease to burn away.
When you're finished, turn off the grill, and let it cool completely.
2. Clean the Grill
Once the grill has completely cooled and you have disconnected it from any gas lines or propane tanks, it's time to scrub. Use your grill brush to scrub the grill grates. Remove all the debris and ash from the grill. You can sweep it out, vacuum it out with a utility vacuum, or use your grill's built-in ash remover.
Then, deep clean the grill with dish soap and warm water. A scrubbing sponge is useful at this stage, but you can also use a clean rag to scrub down the interior of your grill. Rinse thoroughly to get all the residue off, and then dry with a clean paper towel.
3. Inspect All the Parts of Your Grill
As you are cleaning all the various grill parts, you have the opportunity to take a good look at them. Some grills are fairly simple and don't have many parts other than the grates. Others are more complicated and include burners, grease trays, hoses, rotisseries, temperature indicators, control knobs, and more. Inspect each part for damage, rust, or any other type of defect. If anything needs to be replaced, now is the time to order replacement parts, so you have them all ready before the next grilling season.
4. Wrap Certain Parts
For gas grills, it's a good idea to wrap the burners with plastic wrap. When the burners are properly wrapped, insects and spiders can't get inside. However, don't reinstall the burners after they are wrapped! You might forget about the plastic wrap and have lots of problems the next time you decide to grill. Instead, place the wrapped burners on the grates.
It's also wise to wrap the disconnected gas line and the gas orifice in plastic.
5. Remove Batteries from Electronic Ignition System
If your grill has an electronic ignition system, remove the batteries so they don't corrode during the winter.
6. Wipe Down the Exterior
Is everything clean on the inside? Great! Now, you can clean the exterior. Wipe the entire exterior with soapy water. Get off all the hardened drips and spills. If there's cooked-on food, you risk corrosion or mold. Wipe a final time with clean water, and then dry thoroughly with a clean, dry rag for a beautiful polish.
7. Season the Grates with Cooking Oil
Now is the time to prepare your cooking grates for next year. Spray or rub cooking oil onto your grilling grates. Do a thorough job and use plenty of oil because it will dry when the cold weather hits. Seasoning the grates with cooking oil will protect them from corrosion. Some grillers even take the seasoned grates out of the grill, wrap them in packing paper, and place them indoors over the winter for maximum protection against rust.
8. Reassemble the Grill
Make sure your grill parts are put back in place except the ones that you wrapped.
9. Put on a Grill Cover
After the grill is clean and inspected, the grates are seasoned, certain parts are wrapped, and the grill is completely dry, then it's time to put on the cover. Most grill brands sell grill covers that will fit your specific model. Grill covers are high quality wraps that protect your outdoor appliance from the harsh elements. The best ones don't quite touch the ground, giving your grill a little space to breath.
10. Store the Grill for the Winter
Winterizing outdoor appliances includes proper storage. A garage is the best option for grill storage. If you don't have room in your garage (or you don't have a garage), choose the most sheltered place available, such as under an overhang.
Store gas tanks outdoors. Never store gas or propane tanks in garages, basements, attics, or other indoor areas. The tank will be fine outdoors in the winter, and it can be stored separately from your winterized grill.
Now that winterizing your grill is taken care of, you can relax and enjoy the cold season and the holidays that come with it. Check out Appliances Connection for unique and useful holiday gifts that will please everyone on your list. You might even find something for a fellow grillmaster like yourself!
Does propane go bad?
If you have a spare propane tank after the grilling season is over, hang on to it! Propane does not expire or go bad over time. Store your extra propane tank outdoors during the winter, and you can use it again in the spring.
Can you use charcoal that has gotten wet?
If your charcoal got wet over the winter, you might be able to dry it out and use it. This usually only works for higher quality charcoal. And even then, it will likely smoke more than usual, which makes it better for slow burns. Low quality charcoal will crumble and turn to dust when you try to dry it out.
What is the best material for a grill cover?
Effective grill covers are made from heavy-duty, waterproof materials, such as canvas, vinyl, and nylon. Some grill covers are coated to protect against UV rays from the sun. This helps prevent against cracks in the cover. Although they are made to be very durable, grill covers are also usually lightweight. When properly cared for, the covers can last 5-10 years, or longer, which helps keep your grill lasting longer, too.