How to Start a Stubborn Gas Grill
If you're having trouble getting your gas grill started, your propane tank might need to be burped.
If you’re having trouble getting your gas grill started, your propane tank might need to be burped.
You’ve got the best burgers prepped and ready to be grilled to perfection, and a hungry crowd is waiting for the main course. But for some reason, your gas grill just isn’t getting hot enough—or even worse, it’s sputtering and not really starting at all.
You’ve checked to make sure your propane tank is full, there aren’t any leaks in the hose and the gas valve is open, so what gives? This little trick some call “burping” the propane tank could save the day.
Is your grill summer ready? Get your grill up and running in no time with this handy checklist.
Shutterstock / Daryl Marquardt
Propane Tank Basics
Connected to the shutoff valve on the propane tank is a mechanism called the propane regulator. The propane regulator does just that—regulates the flow of gas to the grill. It’s an incredibly important safety feature, as it will restrict the flow of gas should there ever be a leak, possibly preventing an explosion. (Yikes!)
However, its necessary delicate nature means that it is easily tripped whenever there’s a pressure change, which can happen if you accidentally turn on the burners before opening the propane tank valve, or if there’s a large temperature change in the weather.
The problem lies with the bypass valve inside the regulator. If there is excess pressure, the valve will get fully or partially stuck to stop gas from exiting the tank. Luckily, all you need to do is reset the bypass valve. So here’s how to do it.
Burping the Propane Tank
First, open the hood on your grill to ensure gas isn’t building up inside. Second, turn off all burners on the grill. Make sure to double check every burner is off.
On your propane tank, twist the propane tank shutoff valve clockwise until it is totally closed. Next, take the propane tank hose off in the same way you do when you change out the tank. You’ll probably hear a slight hiss escape as the excess pressure is released. Like a baby, your propane tank just burped.
Starting Your Grill Safely
Wait to reconnect the hose for about 30 seconds. During this time, the propane regulator will reset itself.
After you’ve waited, reconnect the hose, making sure it’s properly tightened. When the hose is in place, slowly reopen the propane valve a quarter turn. It’s important to reopen the valve slowly, as turning it too quickly could trip the regulator again. After this initial turn, go ahead and slowly open it all the way.
Once your valve is open, turn on each burner one at a time, making sure there is a flame coming out before moving on to the next. You should notice that the flame height is higher than before. After you’ve turned on all the burners, turn them off one by one. Finally, close your propane tank valve, and give yourself a pat on the back—you’ve successfully burped your propane tank!
Preventing the Problem
To prevent problems in the future, always turn off your burners before closing your propane tank valve. This will keep the pressure balanced for the next time that you grill. If you continue having problems with your gas grill, it could be that your propane regulator is broken, or that there’s an obstruction or bad connection between the propane tank and your grill.