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.