Nothing announces the arrival of warm weather like firing up the grill.
Unfortunately, nothing sours a party faster than a grill that won't light, smokes too much, or cooks unevenly.
So what should you do to get that grill ready for all those barbecues?
This Old House magazine Online Editor Alex Bandon stopped by "The Early Show on Saturday Morning" to fill viewers in.
(Editor's note: Most of this material comes directly from This Old House magazine)
Cleaning the racks: Use a wire brush to remove grime from the racks and then coat the racks with cooking oil or spray on some Pam cooking spray. It's important to do this often throughout the season.
Clean the Burners: Cleaning burners keeps the unit working at its best. Burner ports can fill with grease and close up, leading to hot and cold spots on the grill.
While the unit is cold, use a stainless steel wire brush or flexible pipe cleaner to remove the gunk from a traditional gas burner. The flames should be distributed evenly throughout the burner after a good cleaning. Brush off any ash that accumulates on infrared grills, and be sure to keep the glass clean.
Use a non-abrasive cleaner to remove any deposits. Running the grill for 10 minutes on high after cooking also helps keep the ports free of build up.
Grills with welded joints or connections with pop rivets can rust.
Scrub rust off with a stiff wire brush or coarse steel wool, apply a rust-inhibiting primer, and paint the grill's exterior with rust-resistant metal paint.
Keep fasteners tight to ensure the base is stable and safe.
Replace damaged grill appendages, like wheels, handles, or any other part of your grill, by contacting the manufacturer.
Use dish soap or a mild detergent to clean cast aluminum grills, and Simple Green all-purpose, biodegradable cleaner for stainless steel ones.
Prevent bugs from nesting in burner tubes:
If flames are yellow and you smell gas, clean screens with soft-bristle brush. This should be done yearly.
Protecting the grill: At This Old House, we believe that keeping your grill protected from the elements is the easiest way to preserve it and allow it to have a long life. Grill covers should have a cloth inner lining to draw moisture away from the metal. A simple plastic sheet holds moisture in, creating a humid environment around the grill, which can lead to rusting. Use a canvas, cloth, or vinyl cover that fits the grill appropriately. Keep in mind that UV rays beak down cheaper, generic covers.
What to do if the gas line comes undone: Replacing a worn or damaged fuel line is an easy task once you locate the problem.
Manufacturers suggest coating everything-from the tank, to the venturi tubes, which connect the control valve to the burner-with soapy water.
You can apply the solution with a basting brush. Then, turn the grill on. Any bubbles that appear on coated areas indicate escaping gas, which can be fixed by replacing the hose or O-ring. The gap in the venturi tubes mixes gas with air enroute to the burner and can easily clog with debris or insects. The wrap the tubes with aluminum screen to let air in and keep bugs out.
When is it time to replace?: If you are constantly spending money to replace individual parts of your grill, it might be time to consider purchasing a new one. If the money you're spending on parts is adding up, start the hunt for a new grill.