Like it or not, summer is behind us and fall is about to herald the coming of winter. For some of you, this might be a welcome and overdue change in weather patterns. For others, you might be lamenting the end of Frisbee season.
For my part, I’m going to miss the chance to fire up the grill in the afternoon after work or on the weekends, and enjoy a laid-back evening on the deck with friends or family. But as any grill owner knows, there are some steps you need to take before you hang up your grill tongs for the season.
Below, I’ll walk you through some basic maintenance tips to help your propane grill hibernate successfully through the winter. With just a little bit of preparation, your investment will serve you faithfully for many years to come.
1. Don’t Neglect Basic Cleaning
First and foremost, remember to clean your grill thoroughly before putting it away for the winter. It might sound obvious, but storing your grill with food waste or grease still on it is a quick way to invite damage—or worse.
Grease residue in particular is problematic; it has a tendency to harden over time, and will take a great deal more effort to clean off by the time Spring rolls around again. Food waste can be just as bad: leaving it behind can invite rodents and other small visitors.
For the easiest way to clean, heat up your grill one last time to burn off residue, and then wipe everything thoroughly with warm, soapy water.
2. Actively Prevent Rust
Grill and car owners might have a tendency to assume rust is a foregone conclusion, but this simply isn’t the case. With just a little bit of proactive prevention, you can keep your grill rust-free for a very long time.
One thing you can do is spray the metallic parts of your grill with simple cooking oil. This will help to repel the inevitable buildup of moisture during the colder months, and will easily burn off cleanly when you fire your grill up again in the Spring.
You’ll also want to take a good look at the painted surfaces. If you find any chipped paint, it’s worth your time to sand it down and apply a coat of heat-resistant paint.
3. Store Your Fuel Someplace Safe
This tip has less to do with grill maintenance and more to do with basic safety, which makes it perhaps the most important item on this list.
Unlike its counterpart, gasoline, propane won’t require any complicated or expensive winterizing process. In fact, propane has a more-or-less indefinite shelf-life, so you’re not going to need to invest in winterizers, stabilizers, or additives.
However, it’s still vital that you disconnect the tank from your grill and make sure the valve is closed as far as you can turn it by hand. From there, you’ll want to find a dry, stable location—ideally in a shed. One of the basic tenets of DIY safety is to keep your fuel out of the basement or garage in case it leaks and poses a fire hazard.
Remember: a quality propane grill will provide you with years and years of dependable service if you treat it well and keep up with basic maintenance. Hopefully this has been a useful reminder.
Below I've included an article that I wrote for Cilantro Cooks regarding on how to ensure your coffeemaker lasts as long as possible.