Dear Home-Ec 101,
The other night I decided to grill burgers, but I couldn’t get my gas grill to get hot. It was extremely frustrating, and I ended up cooking my burgers under the broiler (with much spite and bitterness, I might add). There was plenty of liquid propane. I just couldn’t get the flames high, even with the burners wide open. Do you have any idea why my gas grill wouldn’t heat?
Flummoxed in Florida
Actually, I’m quite familiar with your problem and have had several frustrating evenings cursing my gas grill, too. (Hush, you charcoal grill owners, I want one of those, too—not instead of).
A gas grill—in this case, I’m solely referring to liquid propane—has a safety feature built into the gas regulator that is on the tube connecting your bottle of liquid propane to the grill itself. This safety valve will not open fully until the gas pressure has equalized between the bottle and the grill. If the burners are in the on position, the gas leaves the lines in the grill, and this pressure cannot equalize.
Thankfully there is a very simple fix.
Check your gas grill.
Completely shut the valve on the bottle of propane.
Turn off all of the burners. Check to make sure none of your minions (kids) have turned on the rotisserie you never use or any other accessories. Double-check to make sure they are all shut.
Ensure the lid of the grill is open.
Open the valve on the bottle of liquid propane fully.
Wait a few seconds.
Do a little dance, hum a little tune. Something. Anything except turn on a burner. If the hose from your bottle of liquid propane is short, you really only need 10 seconds or so unless you are trying to grill when it is VERY cold. If you have several feet of hose, you must wait a couple of minutes.
Now turn on the burner and light the grill.
It’s like magic, no?
Ok, now we move up to phase two. It’s time to check for a gas leak. You should perform this check fairly frequently to comply with safety standards.
Turn off all burners and the valve to the propane tank, too.
Get a spray bottle and partially fill it with very soapy water. (1/3 soap dish, 2/3 water — almost like you were going to blow bubbles.)
Now spray the hose connections with your soapy water.
Open the valve on the tank of liquid propane and then carefully inspect each connection. If any bubbles are forming, turn off the gas, reconnect, and tighten the fittings.
That should fix most problems.
If you want to spruce up other things outside your house, there’s a lot more information about keeping the outside of your house clean.
Send your domestic questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
40 thoughts on “Why Won’t My Gas Grill Get Hot?”
I was going to leave some smart answer like, “Because it’s broken, ” but of course now I’m all ashamed by your great answer. Not to ashamed to type this, but never the less…
Apparently not too ashamed to not proofread either. (Change “to ashamed” to “too ashamed”)
@Kellyology Don’t worry, I’m the queen of typos around here. I had a typo in the HEADER for two weeks and no one said a thing.
Heather’s advice is great and will probably fix you up, but if it doesn’t, I would add the following steps if low flow remains an issue:
1. Turn off the gas bottle and remove/reinstall it, making sure the connection is mating up correctly and no bit of gasket material is getting in the way.
2. Check the line for kinks or damage.
3. Remove and check the burner connection to the hose. Make sure is is also a solid connection. I’ve seen small mud-pot wasps build nests up in the bottom end of the burner tube so look for that.
4. Verify that there is some clearance between the burner and the rocks or bricks; anything that is up against the burner element will disrupt the gas flow and will result in both low temperature and possibly accumulating explosive gas pockets.
5. How old is your regulator? Suspect it particularly if you have been hearing a noise coming from it. I replace mine as soon as I hear it making a noise. The original one lasted 10 years, the newer ones only make it 4-5 years.
6. How about the flow control knobs on the grill? Are they all feeling solid, turning smoothly but not too quickly? If any are grating, grinding, or offering surprisingly little resistance, the valve controlled by that knob may have worn out…or gotten a wasp nest or other critter up into it. That’s a tear-down job to fix. (Ask me about the dead mouse in my air conditioner. Or better, don’t. Varmints can get into – and die in – the most unbelievable places.)
7. With the burners off and all connections solidly made, turn the gas bottle on quickly. You should hear a rushing sound with a sudden stop. If you don’t hear that, you might have a dud gas bottle. There’s a rubber bladder inside the bottle that is kinda like the membrane on an egg, so that there’s a bubble on the bottom. That helps even out the pressure in the bottle. If that membrane breaks, the LP that’s on the inside might have gotten outside the membrane and messed up the pressurization. Or the valve on the bottle might have some debris or defect. If have done all of what Heather recommended and these additional steps and still have low flow, tape a “Possibly Defective” note on the gas bottle and take it back to where you bought it to swap it out. Hopefully, that will solve your problem.
I am somewhat infamous for having purchased a heavy old Kenmore gas grill back in 1981 and continuing to rebuild it rather than buy a new one. Last year a second-hand, larger grill with a side burner was gifted to me, and now I have an outdoor kitchen. 30 years of drippings soaked into lava rocks = better than charcoal flavor. 😉
Thanks Heather! Turned out the regulator was the culprit. After a quick trip to Ace Hardware I replaced the regulator, fired up the grill and WHOOSH! A nice flame and temp.
Awesome! I got it fixed in 10 seconds. Thanks
@KeterMagick Well, you just wrote the next post in this series on grill maintenance I was starting today. Heh. Great advice. 🙂 Thank you.
@HeatherSolos Sorry, didn’t mean to step on your article. ♥
@KeterMagick Oh no worries, it’s just back to the drawing board for topics 🙂
My wife was just giving me the stink eye cuz I told her the taters weren’t cooking and the grill wouldn’t get above 200. Then I read your wisdom and now my taters are crispy and delicious…thanks, mysterious internet wizard!
thank you thank you so much this was driving me insane
My natural gas grill wouldn’t get hotter than 250 degrees. Turns out there is a second valve (on the other side of the house nowhere near the hookup) that was only half-way open. Once I found this out and opened the other valve all the way it worked great!
Sometimes things just aren’t intuitive. Thank you for the tip.
OMG. Can’t believe it was that simple. I have been using this grill for years and never had it not heat up like that. Had to grill burgers inside on the George Forman! Then today after reading, waited the 15 seconds before lighting and it heated right up to 400 degerees. THANKS!!
Heather you forgot one very important thing.. To prevent the check lock closing you need to open the tank SLOWLY…….
Thank you so much. This is not the first time experiencing this problem. This saved additional hours of frustration. Thanks again!!!
Clifton said it all! I was about to start looking at replacement parts, when the simple “reboot” was all that was needed. Thanks for saving me from massive frustration and/or expense!
I took Heather’s advice and am grilling again! Thanks sugar!
Very helpful thanks turned gas on waited 10 sec back to grilling
Yup, I’m an idiot. Should have googled this years ago. Now i know not to turn on burners first. Thanks.
Awesome! Got it fixed in 10 seconds. Thanks.
Years later, you’re still getting top billing from my Google search on this topic and your advice made me feel dumb as much as it made my pot of water boil. I thought I was doing good leaving the fuel on to drain that pressure. Now I know better. Thanks!
Holy friggin crap!!!!!!! This actually worked!!!!! I just installed a new cylinder n the weather just got real child n the new cylinder was inside…do I thought the cold killed my regulator or the temp difference from inside to outside was messing with it…guess it just had to pressurize like you said! THANK YOU SO MUCH…YOU SAVED DINNER AND A TRIP TO THE STORE FOR PARTS I DON’T NEED AND THE TIME TO INSTALL THEM! YOUR AWESOME!!!!!
Step one worked for me too!!! Thanks!
KeterMagick: Re ur #7, There is no bladder or membrane inside a propane tank. You may be confusing a propane tank with a pressure tank for a water system, which operates exactly as you describe.
Thank you! You cured my grill and saved the day 😀
Seriously thank you I was so mad at my brand new grill!!!
Squirrels have chewed through my regulator hose!!!!
Squirrels are the devil. (I had a huge struggle with them in the fixer-upper)
You have saved my day!!! We had just done a seriously needed clean of our grill and had this problem. I was convinced we had done some thing and broke our grill but your advice did the trick. Thank you so much!
Thank you so so much it worked in less than 30 seconds.
This was only my 4th time using my new grill and I was so mad! Worked immediately. Thank you!
Thanks Heather, my disgruntled wife was so mad when we couldn’t get the grill working she was talking about a new one.
This instantly solved the problem, maybe I should have let it go and went for the new one but my bank account thanks you also.
wow—in alaska I always thought the cold was killing my regulators– should have googled it!!!! lol It was as you said, turning on the burners before the gas. woo-hoo no more hour long steaks!!! thanks
You “da man!”
Thank you. First snow in Cleveland and we’re celebrating with steaks!
Avoiding the indoor smells, grease, and pans!
I’ll drink to you.
Omg thank you. Grill night saved.
I have the opposite problem! I have a six burner (3 ignition) set up and my grill heats up perfectly fine BUT when I attempt to lower the temperature to medium or below on my first 2 burners (ignition 1), the flame goes out either in a few minutes or when I close the lid (whichever comes first). Works fine no matter what the control knob is at on the other 4 burners. Any ideas? Possibly manifold valve?
To be able to troubleshoot, it would be helpful to know the make / model of the grill.
What an incredibly simple fix! Thank you!
You have saved bbq shish kabob night, thanks for the tips 🙂