I Just Want Grilled Corn, Goshdarnit
May 28, 2016 11:07 AM   Subscribe

What's wrong with my grill and how do I fix it? Propane grill, 2 years old, unused for a season.. suddenly won't supply enough propane to the flame elements to cook anything (or stay lit if all five heat elements are turned on).

We've switched out the propane tanks, we've cleaned everything we can think of cleaning, but our propane grill just won't heat up. If we light one burner element, there's a small flame. If we light two, enough propane gets through to keep it burning, but at about the same heat that a tea light candle provides. If we try to turn on all five elements, they all turn on but sputter out almost immediately. There's just not enough fuel getting to the burners.

We've tried leaving it burning as much as we can for hours. We've tried it over three consecutive weekends in hopes that it would somehow fix itself. It's not fixing itself.

We've cleaned everything we can think of to clean. It's not rusty. We're in Southern California, so it hasn't rained much, but the grill has been safely covered when it's not been in use. We don't smell propane at any point when it's on, so we don't believe it's leaking.

What could we be overlooking? What might need replacing?
posted by erst to Home & Garden (11 answers total)
From your description, you don't have a Webber Q, but this is a common problem for those propane grills (by default they accept the puny little 1lb propane tanks but you can get adapter hoses to use full sized propane tanks).

For those grills, if you open up the propane tank at full blast something weird happens and the flames are weak and it never gets hot.

The trick is to set the grill at Hi/Start, open up the tank at a trickle, light the burner(s), then slowly open up more of the tank.
posted by porpoise at 11:15 AM on May 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

Have you done a leak test with soapy water? Might help to rule that out.
posted by Koko at 11:20 AM on May 28, 2016

Once wasps made a nest in my supply line. Did you check that?
posted by littlewater at 11:34 AM on May 28, 2016

Every year at the start of grilling season I have to remove all the burners and blast water through them to clean out all the spider webs.
posted by outfielder at 11:39 AM on May 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

Try taking the burners out and cleaning them with pipe cleaners. But it sounds like a blockage further up the line. If you have an air compressor or some canned air, try blasting inside the manifold, that's the part that feeds gas to the burners.
posted by Marky at 11:50 AM on May 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

I had a similar problem once from burnt debris collecting underneath the burners. It didn't occur to me until after that the stuff was blocking oxygen flow.
posted by exogenous at 12:34 PM on May 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

Clean the venturi tubes with a bottle brush, always works for me.
posted by the uncomplicated soups of my childhood at 12:43 PM on May 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

I have had spiders build webs inside the tubes supplying gas to the burners. That created the same problems.
posted by procrastination at 1:29 PM on May 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

Could be your regulator is shot. They aren't serviceable so replacement is the only way to fix them.
posted by Zedcaster at 7:32 PM on May 28, 2016

I had what sounds like the exact same problem, right down to the things that you've tried to do to fix it. It turned out that I all needed to reset my propane regulator, which, prior to this, I wasn't even aware of as a thing. You can google if you want detailed instructions or a video guide, but the short version is turn off grill, disconnect hose from the propane tank, turn grill controls to full. A minute later, turn the grill controls off, reconnect the hose, and you should be good to go.
posted by mishafletch at 11:43 PM on May 28, 2016

seconding uncomplicated soups suggestion. You need to actually take the venturi assembly behind the supply valves and clean it. There's a very small opening in there that tiny spiders and bugs like to clog up.
posted by cosmicbandito at 6:31 AM on May 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

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