How NOT to clean your BBQ

by caniwi

Learning the value of good BBQ maintenance the hard way.

The Gift From Way Back

I've had a real variety of Bar B Que's over the years, starting with a gift from an employer, that being a high end stainless steel model, propane gas powered two burner model with a built in rear burner for rotissiering chicken and the like.

We used that baby for years and years it seemed, and as with all "things" it definitely showed signs of aging as the years went by. It had at least 2 new burners, a set of cast iron grill racks to replace the porcelain covered steel ones that were the originals, a new spit motor.

Eventually it was becoming pretty much a wreck, and the final season saw the ledges that held the grilling racks rusting away, so my improvisation was to place a couple of bricks in the body and place the racks on them. 

Pretty? No, stable? No, safe? No

But it worked and got me through another season.....

Well, almost!

How could I be so stupid?

Well, it was hot night, and one beer turned into two, then I sauntered over to do my wire brushing. 

You see my ritual had always been to fire up the barby 20-30 minutes prior to grilling, and run it at the highest heat, you know, get it really hot & burn off any and all remnants of the last grilling session. Just prior to grilling, lift the lid and a quick scrub with a long handled wire brush to remove any ash residue.

You know the procedure, I'm sure you've all done it.

There was this one nice spring evening when my wife asked me to start the BBQ, which of course I dutifully did, and then my neighbour called over to join him for a beer. One beer, twenty minutes, and the BBQ should be nice and clean right?

There's never just ONE beer

Well, it was a hot night, and one beer turned into two, then I sauntered over to do my wire brushing. 

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Flames Everywhere

And no clue what to do...

It seemed the brick grill holders wasn't such a good idea, as the heat had disintegrated one, the grill tipped onto the burner, and everything was overheated, with flames pouring out everywhere. Being propane powered I new I'd just have to close the valve and all would be good, however the heat was so intense, that it had melted the aluminum valve "wheel handle", and when I put a wrench to it, it simply melted away.

Our house was vinyl sided and I could see it starting to warp and buckle, and when I saw flames shooting out of the valve I knew I was in trouble. 

Tim, my beer dispensing neighbour was actually a fireman and am I ever glad he was home, and quickly came to help, as I really had no idea what to do. He immediately got me to help move the entire burning unit into the middle of the lawn and away from the house, then quickly ran the garden hose to it, and proceeded to hose down, not the fire itself, but the actual propane tank. Seems he knew the biggest danger was it exploding, and it needed to be cooled off quickly.

It took quite some time to get it cooled off, as whenever we thought it was OK, and the flames would extinguish, then as soon as we turned the hose off, it would ignite again.

Scared the bejeepers out of me, and taught me a couple of lessons.

  • Don't cheap out and try to do a home built repair on something that has fire and flames involved. 
  • When lighting the burner, don't hop the fence & drink the neighbour's beer! 

Natural Gas All The Way

No more empty gas bottles for me...

I replaced that BBQ with another gas model, but this time a Natural Gas powered one is taking pride of place on the end of our big family deck. I can't count the number of times we were 1/2 way through a rotisserie meal and the tank ran out on the old one, but never again with a natural gas model.

Updated: on 04/08/2012, caniwi
 
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