Burgers on a GrillBefore you step out on your back patio or your cottage deck to begin, there are a few steps you must take to ensure that your propane or natural gas barbecue is in safe, good working order.

Follow These Safety Tips As You Inspect Your Barbecue

  • Dirt and debris can build up inside the grill over the winter months. Carefully clean out any particles, dust, and cobwebs that may have built up over the winter. Newer barbecues have spider guards to prevent them from entering the burner and burner tubes, however if yours does not, use a pipe cleaner or wire to ensure that spider webs have not built up inside. Remove lava rocks and grates for a thorough cleaning with soap and warm water.
  • Clean your burner ports to ensure they are free of dirt and rust.
  • Make sure that the barbecue hose is in good condition, and is free of cracks. Make sure there are no sharp bends in the hose or tubing. Propane or natural gas leaking from a cracked hose may send out a stream that if ignited can produce huge flames.
  • Check to ensure that all connections are tight and that there are no leaks. You can brush a mixture of soap and water onto the connections and hoses (a 50/50 mix) and any rising bubbles will indicate a leak. Repair your barbecue so that there are no more bubbles.
  • Rusty, damaged propane tanks should be replaced by 10 years of age or less.
  • If you have uncertainty about the condition of any barbecue part you should replace it with a new component. Parts are available at most hardware stores and building supply centres.
Call a certified fuel appliance repair person if you do not feel comfortable completing safety checks yourself.

How Do I Properly Light My Barbecue

  • When your barbecue is safe and ready to be used, begin by opening the lid. Always have the lid in the open position when lighting the grill.
  • Next turn on the gas by opening the natural gas valve or propane cylinder Valve. After this step has been completed, turn on the barbecue at the grill controls.
  • Finally, light the barbecue by depressing the igniter button.
  • If your barbecue does not have an igniter button, insert a long match or barbecue lighter into the side burner hole. Have the match lit before you turn on the grill controls.
  • If the burner does not ignite, keep the lid open, turn off the gas and wait five minutes before trying once again.

How To Shut Off Your Barbecue

  • First shut off your natural gas or propane cylinder valve so that any remaining gas in the hoseline burns off.
  • Then turn off your burner controls so that no gas remains trapped within the hose.
  • Allow your barbecue some significant 'cooling off' time prior to covering it.

Your Propane Cylinder

Propane is an economical and portable fuel that provides heat, cooks food, and generates light. It is used as a gas, but stored as a liquid in cylinders that can vary in size. The most common, the 'backyard barbecue size' is the 20-pound cylinder. When it is properly filled, 80% of the tank will contain liquid propane leaving the remaining 20% above the liquid to contain the propane vapour. In Canada propane cylinders must be inspected and requalified, or replaced every 10 years. You can view the date that your cylinder was last qualified on the collar of the cylinder. It is also possible that a cylinder less than 10 years old may need replacing. A rusty and damaged cylinder could mean that you're ready for a new one. When you make your purchase, make sure to turn your old cylinder in so that it can be purged and recycled or disposed of. New propane cylinders must be purged to release all of the air and moisture within before it is filled with propane. In Canada, only a properly trained and certified attendant is permitted to fill a tank. An attendant is not permitted to fill an outdated cylinder, or fill any cylinder tank beyond 80% of its capacity.

How To Change My BBQ Cylinder

  • Make sure that you take your time while replacing your empty cylinder. Ensure that the special plug provided is threaded onto the outlet of the service valve when you disconnect the hose.
  • Carry the empty cylinder in the upright position with the safety valve on top.
  • Transport the empty upright cylinder on the floor of the passenger compartment in your vehicle for safety reasons. Secure it so that it cannot topple over while you are driving. Keep the windows open. (Note: Never leave a propane cylinder inside a parked vehicle with the windows sealed - as heat builds up, it could potentially cause an explosion). Refrain from smoking in your vehicle at this time.
  • Secure the new cylinder in place on the BBQ before you reconnect it. After reconnecting it, check for leakage using the soap and water solution.
  • Older style propane cylinders are required to be tightened with a wrench. Turning in a counter clockwise direction can tighten their left-hand threads. Newer style propane cylinder fittings do not require a wrench and tighten in a clockwise direction.
  • If your barbecue connection has an "O" ring, make sure you check it for fractures and cracks every time you replace your cylinder.
  • Never smoke while handling a propane cylinder.
  • Do not store extra propane cylinders beneath your barbecue or inside any structure as excess heat could cause the cylinder to release overpressure and propane along with it.
If something does go wrong, your home insurance policy can help keep you protected. Is your policy adequate? Call Heritage Insurance, Ltd. at (800) 667-7640 for a free Moose Jaw home insurance quote.
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