Propane gas grills are an extremely popular backyard cooking appliance during the summer months. The convenience of propane and the great flavor of grilling outdoors make gas grills a staple for many homeowners. However, propane gas can pose fire and toxicity dangers if you don’t follow proper safety precautions.
By choosing the optimal location for grilling, safely handling propane tanks, following basic operational safety tips, and conducting preventative maintenance, you can make outdoor grilling a fun and safe experience all summer long.
Choosing the Right Location
Proper placement of your propane grill is crucial to minimize fire risks and toxic fume exposure. Be sure to place the grill on a flat, stable surface in a well-ventilated outdoor area. Never use a propane grill in enclosed spaces like garages, where dangerous carbon monoxide can accumulate.
Position the grill at least 10 feet away from your house or any other buildings or overhangs, and avoid putting it in areas like wood decks or patios where grease and other flammable debris could collect. Consider putting your grill in a designated outdoor cooking area for safety and convenience.
Check the manufacturer’s instructions for the recommended clearances to maintain around your specific model.
Handling the Tank
Propane tanks need careful handling. Buy them only from reputable suppliers and inspect valves, hoses, and seals for damage before refilling a tank. Reject any damaged tanks. When transporting and storing propane tanks, keep them upright and secured in your vehicle (but never in interior areas). After getting a tank filled, take it directly home and remove it from your vehicle right away rather than leaving it in a hot car.
When the tank isn’t hooked up to your grill, place it in an outdoor, noncombustible spot away from high-traffic areas. Always turn off the propane tank valve after each use before you turn off the grill knobs.
Practicing safe tank habits will reduce the chances of leaks, spills, or accidents. Be sure also to use the proper size tank for your grill’s BTU rating.
Grill Safety Tips
Following the basic safety tips we’ve listed below will make grilling a safe and fun experience.
- Open the grill hood before igniting the burner to prevent gas buildup and flare-ups.
- Position the grill burner controls to OFF before turning on the propane tank gas valve.
- Use long-handled barbecue tools and flame-retardant mitts to avoid burns. Don’t lean over the hot grill surface.
- Keep a fire extinguisher nearby in case of a grease fire. Have baking soda on hand to control flare-ups.
- If the grill doesn’t ignite properly, turn the controls and tank off and wait five minutes before trying again.
- Never leave a hot grill unattended, as fat drippings can cause flare-ups.
Maintaining Your Grill
Regular maintenance helps ensure your propane grill remains safe and functional for years to come. Follow these tips to properly care for your grill:
- Do an annual leak test on grill connections and hoses by brushing with soapy water to check for bubbles.
- Keep the grill free of grease buildup in the firebox, which can fuel flare-ups. Deep clean two to three times per year.
- Replace hoses, gaskets, and other soft parts that are worn or over five years old. Use only manufacturer-approved replacement parts.
- For propane tanks, know the expiration date and have qualified personnel do inspections and recertifications as needed.
So, Is a Propane Gas Grill Right for You?
Propane gas grills offer quick cooking and convenient cleanup compared to charcoal. The push-button ignition is easy to use. Just be sure to follow all safety precautions, as gas comes with fire and toxicity risks if misused. Some safety-conscious homeowners may prefer electric or charcoal grills instead. Consider your habits, skills, and patience level when deciding what type of grill best fits your cookouts.
FAQs About Propane Gas Grills
How far should a propane grill be from the house?
Position your propane grill at least 10 feet away from buildings, overhangs, or other structures. Check the manual for required clearances.
How often should you replace a propane tank hose?
Safety experts recommend replacing any propane grill hose that’s over five years old or showing visible signs of wear and cracks.
What causes propane grill flare-ups?
Flare-ups happen when fat drippings hit the hot grill surface and ignite. Keeping the grill clean and avoiding thick, fatty cuts of meat reduces flare-ups.
Can you leave a propane tank in a hot car?
Never leave a propane gas tank in a hot vehicle, even briefly, after getting it filled. The heat can compromise the tank.
How do you extinguish a grease fire on a propane grill?
For a grease fire, shut the propane tank off first. Keep the grill closed and let it burn out, or carefully smother it with baking soda if uncontrolled.