Four easy steps to get your BBQ ready for the summer

    Now that spring is here, give your barbecue some love

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    When pleasant summer weather rolls in, it is almost as if your backyard becomes an additional room in your house. The barbecue is often the focal point.

    Regardless of how much or how little you used your barbecue last summer, now is the time to do a spring cleaning – for safety and better entertaining. Here are some basic barbecue maintenance and cleaning tips.

    1. Get some basic cleaning supplies together

    Whether you’ve covered it or not, whether it’s sheltered or not, over the fall, winter and early spring your barbecue takes a beating and suffers through all kinds of heavy, blustery and dirty weather. Give it some love early in the spring so you can get round to using it right away.

    Put together some basic household cleaning equipment: a few good quality towels that you don’t mind getting dirty, a brush, a pail and some soap and water, and maybe a shop vacuum cleaner. Except for perhaps some cleaning solution that can act as a de-greaser, there’s really no need to buy anything special. The one thing you don’t want to use in your barbecue clean-up is oven cleaner: it’s corrosive and can damage barbecue parts.

    On a surface you can work on, take out the cooking grates and brush and scrub them down. If these are cast iron, remember to re-season with oil and heating them in your barbecue as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Seasoned grates are important for helping prevent foods from sticking as you grill, especially at higher temperatures.

    2. Take apart and check barbecue parts

    BBQ

    Keep a the tinfoil you used to grill with, crumple it up and voila! An instant grill cleaning tool. (Flickr/Anders Adermark)

    By removing a few barbecue parts, you can basically see all the innards of your barbecue. Remove the heat tamers or plates and clean them up. Then look at the burners and burner tubes beneath them. These can wear out quickly depending on use; deterioration can mean hot spots and lack of even heat distribution when you are cooking.

    Check the other internal elements of the barbecue such as lava rocks and bricks, if you have them. Grease, oils and foods can build up and cause flare-ups. A lot debris, food and otherwise, can build up in the cast iron grill body, the main part of the barbecue. Clean it out — this is where a shop vac could be useful.

    Outside the body of the barbecue, check that gas quick-connection sockets and any regulators are in good shape. Make sure hoses are free from cracks and deterioration, knobs are working properly and that the push-button igniter is working. These sometimes fail with heavy use and exposure to the elements: universal replacements are relatively inexpensive. It’s the same with thermometers built into the barbecue lid: they can fail over time but are easily replaced. Make sure the grease catch beneath the grill body is in place. The exterior of the barbecue will likely need soap and water, a brush and some good cloths, and grease-cutting solution, especially so you don’t get a smeared, smudgy look on stainless steel.

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