Prepping your grilling area for the season

Don't call it Spring, Summer or Fall... call it "Grilling Season."

When it comes to your outdoors grilling space, make function a priority in 2021. While aesthetic changes may boost value and please the eye, be sure to consider upgrades that make living easier, like organization units that give you more space or upgrades that enhance the experience.

Have a clean and functional area to grill and prepare food not only makes everyone more excited, but the food always seems to taste better.

Enhance the Space Under Your Deck

Optimize the space beneath an elevated deck by adding a drainage system such as Trex RainEscape. Designed to capture and divert water, this system protects a deck's substructure from moisture damage while creating dry space usable for storage or an additional living area. Homeowners can safely add gas lines and wiring to accommodate grills, appliances, ceiling fans, lights and entertainment components to create an outdoor oasis. For more information, visit

Get Ready to Grill

A grill's lifespan depends on many factors, including where and how it is stored and your climate. When it's time to upgrade, you'll have some decisions to make. The biggest is which heating style you prefer: gas, electric or charcoal. Other considerations include the overall size, number of burners and grate quality. Also be sure to compare available features, such as side burners and igniters, which are fairly common, and upgrades like lighting and fuel gauges.

Grill Details

A grill may last anywhere from 5-15 years, depending on the quality of the materials and how it is maintained. However, it's common to have to replace parts along the way. Signs you may need a new grill include a firebox (the main enclosure) with cracks, rust or holes and burners that distribute heat unevenly. Damaged grates can affect even grilling if they're warped or if they're flaky or rusted, they can contaminate food. If you're not able to replace the grates, or any other essential part, including hoses and connectors for a gas grill, you'll be better off replacing the unit.

A Clean Grill

Go online or to your local hardware store and you’ll find dozens grill-cleaning tools, gadgets and gizmos, but nothing can beat a long handled wire brush, wire bottle brush, five-gallon bucket, and some elbow grease. Avoid using toxic chemicals to clean your grill since they can impart an off taste to foods. Instead all you need is some warm water, grease-cutting dish soap (like Dawn or similar), and a poultice made of white vinegar and baking soda.

Reminder: Use gloves

From Popular Mechanics:

To clean a gas grill, start by firing up the grill, closing the hood, and letting it come to full temperature. Wait at least 30 minutes for the extreme temperature to singe any stuck-on food or grease. Next, dip the wire brush into a bucket of warm, soapy water and scrub off all the carbon from the grates. Then turn off the gas, and disconnect and remove the propane tank. Let the grill cool completely.

For charcoal grills, simply dump the old charcoal briquettes into a metal container. Then, scrape away any caked-on charcoal dust and debris with a putty knife.

Once the grill is cool, remove all the grates and flavorizer bars and totally submerge them into a tub of warm, soapy water. Let them soak for at least 30 minutes. Remove anything else from the grill that you can easily take off, such as burner-control knobs, warming racks, and grease trays. The burner tubes on most gas grills are removable, too; look for a single screw or cotter pin on one end of each tube. Stripping down the grill in this way will make it much easier to clean.

The Firebox

With the grill grates and flavorizer bars are removed, the inside of the firebox is exposed and ready to be cleaned. Start by putting an empty bucket underneath the firebox, directly below the grease tray opening, to catch the soapy water and flushed out debris. Use a plastic putty knife to scrape off any caked-on gunk from inside the firebox.

Next, use a wet/dry vacuum, whether full-size or a portable, like Milwaukee’s M18 hand vacuum to collect any remaining loose debris. Since wet/dry vacs are mostly workshop items, you shouldn’t feel bad about using one to suck up the gunk that’s collected in your grill. Once the firebox is clean, rinse it out with a garden hose.

Then scrub everything again and wash and wipe one more time. Finally wash with a dry cloth and reassemble.

Connect everything and turn on for about 15 minutes to burn off any old reside.

It's a little bit of work, but well worth it.