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How to Fix a Gas Grill

Broken BBQ? No problem! Rescue your old, broken grill in five easy steps.

how to fix a broken bbqFamily Handyman
Save that beat-up, broken gas grill from the garbage dump and restore it to new condition for a fraction of the cost of a new grill. Virtually every part on barbecue grills can be replaced, restored or repainted at relatively low cost, putting your grill back in use for many more seasons.

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Time
One day
Complexity
Simple
Cost
$20 – $100

Step 1: Remove the cooking grate and rock grate

Photo 1: Remove the grate and rocks

Lift off the cooking grate and set it aside on newspaper. Scoop the lava rocks or ceramic briquettes into a bucket.

Photo 2: Remove the flame bar

Pull out the rock grate and set it aside. Lift off the vapor bar or flame spreader. Remove any lava rocks or briquettes that have fallen through the rock grate.

Renovating a grill involves three steps. You clean grease and grime off the gas grill. Repaint oxidized and faded parts with high-temp paint, and replace worn-out parts (get replacement parts at most home centers). Your grill may not look exactly like the one we show in the photos, but the components will be similar.

Start by removing the cooking grate, warming rack and lava rocks as shown in Photo 1. If the lava rocks are more than a year old or saturated with grease, replace them with new lava rocks or ceramic briquettes. The rock grate holds the lava rocks or briquettes above the burner. Under the rock grate there will be either a vapor bar or flame spreader, which protects the burner from dripping grease. Remove the rock grate and expose the burner as shown in Photo 2. The burner will be held in place with screws or retaining clips hooked into the venturi tubes.

Caution!

Before doing any work on a broken BBQ, disconnect the gas supply or propane tank, and wear gloves to protect your hands from incredibly dirty grease stains.

Step 2: Test the igniter

Photo 3: Check the igniter

Hold a mirror behind the igniter collector box and push the igniter button several times. If you see a spark, the igniter is good. If not, replace it (Photo 5).

Photo 4: Unhook igniter wire

Pull the igniter wire off the end of the igniter button. Unhook the burner retaining springs from the venturi tube holes with a pliers.

Photo 5: Remove the igniter assembly

Unscrew the igniter collector box from the burner. Pull out the collector box, electrode and igniter wire and set aside.

Photo 6: Remove the igniter button

Remove the igniter button. Either squeeze the igniter retaining clips together, or remove the retaining nut, and push the igniter free from the control panel.

Next, test the igniter electrode for a spark (Photo 3). When you push the igniter button, the electrode in the collector box sparks and ignites the gas. If the igniter wire sheathing has worn off, cover the exposed spots with electrical tape and retest. Most igniters fail because the spark never makes it to the electrode. If the igniter doesn’t work, replace the entire igniter assembly. Photo 4 shows how to disconnect the igniter wire and remove the retaining clips from the venturi tubes, which carry gas from the control panel to the burners. Remove the igniter collector box from the burner (Photo 5) and the igniter button (Photo 6) from the control panel.

Step 3: Remove and clean the burner assembly

Photo 7: Remove the burner

Pull out the burner, sliding the venturi tubes free from their mounting slots. If the burner has heavy rust or is rusted through, replace it.

Photo 8: Clean the venturi tubes

Push a venturi cleaning brush or large pipe cleaner into the end of the venturi tubes to clean out spider webs (a common obstruction) and other debris.

Photo 9: Poke open clogged burner holes

Open clogged burner holes with a small wire or finish nail, and scrub the burner clean with a wire brush if it’s dirty or rusty.

The burner assembly is the heart of the grill. Remove and clean it as shown in Photos 7 – 9. If the burner or venturi tubes have excessive rust and the burner holes are rusted through, replace the burner assembly. These assemblies can be expensive.

Step 4: Scrub the barbecue grill body

Photo 10: Scrape the interior

Loosen cooking buildup from the grill hood and body with a plastic putty knife. Scrub the inside of the grill with soap and water.

Photo 11: Scrub the interior

Remove stubborn interior buildup with an oven or grill cleaner. Work outside so you don’t breathe the cleaner fumes.

Photo 12: Scrub the cooking grate

Scrape the cooking grate with a wire brush or grate cleaning brush. Soak the grate with oven cleaner to remove stubborn buildup.

Once you pull out all the parts, remove grease buildup from the body (Photo 10). Remove stubborn grease film with an oven or grill cleaner (Photo 11). Clean the viewing glass with a glass cleaner. Dislodge buildup from the cooking grate with a wire brush or the special grill cleaning brush shown in Photo 12.

Degrease and Sand Before Painting

Spread degreaser inside the cover and burner area and over the entire exterior. Then scrub the entire grill with a brush. Make sure you remove grease from all the crevices. If you have a power washer, soak the grill with degreaser and then blast off the grease and loose paint. Rinse it with water and let it dry in the sun.

Sand pitted and corroded areas with 80-grit sandpaper. Use a wire brush in the crevices to remove surface rust and chipping paint. Then switch to 120-grit sandpaper and sand the entire grill and cart.

Step 5: Restore the wood slats

Photo 13: Refinish the wood

Sand the wood slats with 100-grit sandpaper. Stain the wood to restore the color and seal with Danish oil or linseed oil.

Scrub down the wooden slats with sandpaper, and recoat them with a matching stain (Photo 13).

Paint the grill

Spray on primer

Apply rust converter, then spray primer over the converted rust and bare metal areas. Let it “flash” for the recommended time. Then apply a second coat.

Apply the finish coat

Paint the top of the grill lid first. Then spray down each side all the way to the bottom of the cart. Paint the front of the grill last. Apply a second coat after waiting the recommended time.

After sanding, wipe the entire grill with a tack cloth. Pretreat the worst rust spots with a rust converter product. Once that dries, prime the rusty areas and bare metal with a primer for rusty metal. Let the primer dry. Then spray-paint it. Let the paint dry for the recommended time. Then install the burners and grates and any replacement parts and get grilling.

Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • 4-in-1 screwdriver
  • Cleaning brush
  • Gloves
  • Mirror
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Orbital sander
  • Plastic scraper
  • Rubber gloves

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here’s a list.

  • High temperature paint
  • Metal primer
  • N95 dust mask
  • Oven cleaner
  • Rust converter
  • Sandpaper
  • Small finish nail
  • Wood stain and finish