open grill
Maksym Ponomarenko/istockphoto
open grill
Maksym Ponomarenko/istockphoto

Don't Flame Out

There's nothing like firing up the grill when the weather starts to sizzle. Since grills are meant to be investments that last for years, knowing how to properly store and maintain a grill is essential for getting top value. Many tips for extending the life of your grill apply to both gas and charcoal grills, with a few differences when it comes to cleaning and repairs. Whichever type of grill you have, keep them in top shape by following these guidelines. (Consider yourself a backyard grillmaster? Take our quiz to see how much you know.)

grill with son
AleksandarNakic/istockphoto

Use It

Like any machine or appliance, your grill will stay in best working order if you use it regularly. Firing it up habitually will also provide ample opportunity to test run all of the parts, and help you spot any problems while they are new and easily fixable.

Related: 25 Finger-Licking Barbecue Sauce Recipes

grill cover
Kliim/istockphoto

Cover It

Covering your grill in between uses can extend the life of your grill considerably. Even though the exterior materials are strong, the natural elements wear them down over time. Keeping grills safely out of the way of rain, pollen, and even wind blown branches can add years to its durability and keep it looking sharp.

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garage storage
urfinguss/istockphoto

Store It

During the off season there is no need to have your grill outside and exposed to the elements, even if you live in an area that does not get regular snow and ice. Carving out a small space in the garage or shed will keep your grill in top shape for when grilling season rolls around.

cleaning grill
Sergei Telenkov/istockphoto

Clean It

Stuck on build-up can become a permanent messy problem if not dealt with soon after use. Cleaning your grill regularly helps keep all the parts working well, and also gives you an opportunity to inspect all of the functions to make sure it is safe and functioning optimally. Depending on what kind of grill you have, gas or charcoal, there are easy to follow steps to keeping it clean.

grill brush
Imagesines/istockphoto

Use a Brush

Keeping grill grates clean not only extends the life of your grill but also improves the quality of everything you use it for. Investing in a grill brush to use after each session is essential for good grill maintenance. Good options cost around $15 from hardware stores.

grill with foil
chee gin tan/istockphoto

Use Foil

If scraping your grill with a brush after each use is too much work, or simply unrealistic, consider using aluminum foil as a barrier. Placing a layer of foil between the grates and the food makes for instant easy clean up. You won't get the same effect of grill marks, or as much flavor from charcoal, but the basic cooking and flavor remains the same.

Related: 20 Recipes and Tips for Grilling Fish This Summer

Essential Grill Tools
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Get Accessories

Having the right accessories for your style of grilling will allow you to use your grill to its full potential and protect against using it in the wrong way. From thermometers to heat-safe mitts, there are plenty of inexpensive toys for grillmasters to make the experience even better and keep your grill in good shape.

Related: 25 Grilling Accessories You Didn't Know You Needed

grill maintenance
ablokhin/istockphoto

Keep All Parts in Good Condition

Especially when it comes to gas grills, regular checks on all of the parts are important. A grill may be able to function even if one or two parts are damaged, but that will lead to potentially dangerous usage, and quick degrading of the overall unit. Rather than wait until the entire unit falls apart, spot check routinely for what might need less expensive repairs.

Related: The Best Grills Under $300

prep grill with onion
eldadcarin/istockphoto

Prep with an Onion

An old grill master trick is to use an onion cut in half and dipped in oil to lubricate the grill grates before adding food to the hot grill. This helps prevent sticking without burning up a cloth or squirting on too much oil.

Related: 10 Money-Saving Tips for the Backyard Grill Master

rust on grill
Kvonomax/istockphoto

Spot Check for Rust

Rust is the natural enemy of grills, and for many, an inevitability. Rather than ignore a few spots of rust, eliminate them as soon as you see them to make sure they don't spread. A little bit of time is all you need to successfully keep any rust spots off of your grill.

backyard grill
Spiderstock/istockphoto

Dedicate a Spot

If grilling is a significant part of your backyard entertainment, it's worth setting up a dedicated grill area. Chemicals from pools, lawns, and even natural elements from trees can all be harsh to the exterior of grills. A small area of concrete for the grill is an easy DIY project that will help your grill last longer.

Related: Grilled Ice Cream Sandwiches and More Unexpected Recipes for the Barbecue