5 signs it’s time to replace your charcoal grill - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

5 signs it’s time to replace your charcoal grill

©iStockphoto.com/John Peacock ©iStockphoto.com/John Peacock

By Larry Bilotti

What's the best part about grilling? No pots and pans to clean up, according to a survey conducted by the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association (HPBA). But that doesn't mean that grills don't require continual maintenance to operate efficiently and safely. Continuing to use a charcoal grill after its prime can be a risky undertaking, not only from a food standpoint, but a fire-safety one as well.

How can you tell if your grill is passed its prime? Here are five warning signs that indicate it's time to replace your charcoal grill.

1. Evidence of Rust
Since grills are exposed to the elements -- rain, sun, wind, and sometimes, an unexpected snowfall -- even the best of them can start to reveal signs of weathering. If your charcoal grill shows patches of rust or corrosion anywhere, you should consider it a sign to replace it. Rust on the legs and joints and the underside of the unit could eventually compromise the sturdiness of the apparatus over time. And nowhere is this more important than on the grilling grate itself, where tiny particles of metal may already be transferring onto the foods you grill. If there are signs of rust, it's time to replace your charcoal grill.

2. Signs of Flaking Paint
Flaking paint is another sign that your charcoal grill needs to be replaced. Most new grills are painted with a baked-on porcelain enamel finish; if your grill is old and losing paint, the exposed metal could result in rust and corrosion and lead to more problems over time. Additionally, flaking paint inside the grill could be burning off during cooking, adding potentially dangerous and chemically laden smoke to your food. Thinking a fresh coat of paint will solve the problem? Think again! Painting your grill is a fire hazard waiting to happen. If you see evidence of flaking paint, it's time to replace your charcoal grill.

3. Blocked Air Vents
All charcoal grills are built with air vents that help control the air intake and conversely the heat and fire during cooking -- an important feature according to Leslie Wheeler, Communications Director of HPBA. The vents in the bottom and sides of charcoal grills can get clogged or blocked if not cleaned routinely. "If the vents of your grill are not working properly, your grill is not performing as effectively as it could," says Wheeler. If you have blocked, inoperable air vents, it's time to replace your charcoal grill. 

4. Grease Buildup
We all know that grilling, grease and fire are fine companions. However, you don't want grease to build up to the point that it creates a more serious hazard. If you have not been diligent in cleaning your grill after each use, the grease that is not burned off during cooking could be building up on the inside of the grill and cover. So if the inside of your grill is showing signs of grease accumulation, clean it with soap-filled steel wool pads and a stiff wire brush, then rinse well with water. If it can't be cleaned, it's time to replace your charcoal grill.

5. Stability
This seems like a no-brainer, but if your grill is not sturdy and sound -- and the joints can't be tightened with a screwdriver or crescent wrench -- you should look into a replacement. An unstable grill can be dangerous to people, pets and patios.

Looking to extend the life of your new charcoal grill? Clean your grill after each use, consider an all-weather covering when not in use, and make these supplies part of your grill cleaning tool kit:

  • Wire grill brush
  • Soap-embedded, fine steel wool pads
  • Mild dishwashing soap
  • Sponge or dishcloth

Larry Bilotti Larry Bilotti has an extensive background in DIY home improvements and home maintenance, not only from his years as executive editor of Country Living magazine, but from personal hands-on experience restoring his Catskills, N.Y., retreat -- Trout House.

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