BBQ grilling and smoking meats are amongst the most delicious and popular cooking ways. If you are a BBQ lover like me, you must have a grilling machine in your home. Depending on your flavor preference and budgetary constraints, it can be a gas grill, electric smoker, pellet smoker or charcoal grill. Whichever grill machines you have, it represents a good amount of investment of yours. It is logical that you should do proper maintenance of your grilling machine to make it last longer and deliver the maximum utility.
No matter how well you took care of your grilling machine, it is pretty normal to have troubleshooting with them sooner or later. And bbq repair is a costly business. Although the design of grilling machines varies on the types and models of grilling machines, the basic functions are more or less the same. So it will be super helpful if you understand the basic working process of grilling machines. It might save you a lot of money in times of need.
Basic Design of a Smoker / Grill Machine
Whether it is a gas grill, charcoal grill or offset smokers, the basic function of grill machines remains the same, which is cooking meat with indirect smoky heat without losing the tenderness of the meat. There is a heat generation place where the fire is made through burning gas fuel, charcoals, or electricity depending on the type of grill machine.
Except, gas grills and electric smokers, most grill machines use wood chunks as burning fuel. In the case of gas grills and electric grills, there is a regulator, burner and ignitor. The regulator is there for controlling the fuel flow and the burner helps to evenly distribute the heat. If the machine is large, there can be more than one, two or more burners.
Basically, the heat generated by burning fuel is channeled into the meat. Most grills have an airtight patio, cover or lid to trap the heated smoke which ultimately cooks the meat. There is a space for wood pellet chip placement in between the flame and cooking grate. The heat goes through the pellet chips which enhances the smoky flavor by manifold. In recent models, there is also a place for a water pan right below the grate. The water pan serves two purposes here. Firstly, it catches all the drips from the meat and secondly, the moisture helps the meat to retain its tenderness.
In most of the grill machines, the meat is placed directly above the heat. But in pellet and offset smokers, the firebox is situated beside the cooking grate and the heat is channeled to the adjacent cooking chambers as depicted in the image below. Thus, the cooking process is comparatively slower than other grill machines but it ensures the perfectly smoked meat.
Finally, depending on the grill machine model and version there can be many other parts or accessories attached to the smoker to ease the cooking process. Thermostat, air pockets are perfect examples of such tools.
BBQ Grill Repairing Guide
Now that you understand how a bbq smoker works, it will be easy to grasp the problem you are facing with your grill machine. There are few grill problems that occur frequently especially if you are using a gas grill. Here are some common grill problems and how to fix those grill machine problems that might occur with your smoker.
1. Low Temperature with Low Flame
Low flame on grill is one of the most common grill problems. The fuel line regulators are the main culprits in most of the time. Regulators tend to be sticky when they start to wear out gradually. A sticky regulator hampers the proper gas flows and ultimately hinders the flaming up to the desired temperature required for perfect grilling. To solve the gas grill low flame regulator problems you can try the following steps.
- Open the grill lid and turn off the gas flow from the tank.
- Detach the fuel line from the gas tank
- Turn the dial of all the control valves to maximum and leave it for one or two minutes to release any gas within the smoker and gas line.
- Reconnect the fuel line to the tank.
- Turn on the gas line slowly and ignite the grill,
- Your grill should heat up normally after this. If not, then check the venturi tubes and consider replacing the fuel line regulator.
2. Orange or Yellow Flame
This problem is prevalent among the gas grill models. Orange or yellow flames indicate problems in the control valves and venturi tubes. The venturi tubes can be found right under the control valve and beneath the burner. The problem can arise from any misalignment or obstruction between the shutters and the tubes. It is essential to clear out any clogs inside the venturi tubes or adjust the air shutter to get the perfect blue flame for grilling.
If your gas grill is generating yellow or orange flame, you should check and adjust the burner and the venturi tube of your grill machines by following these steps:
- Locate the adjustment screw. Usually, you will find the adjustment screw attached to the burner. This screw is responsible for mixing the air with the propane gas. If the screw is tighter than it should be, then the burner would generate a nasty looking uneven yellow or orange flame. If it is loose then the burner might not burn properly.
- Turn the grill on by lighting and make it low.
- Loosen the air shutter by rotating the adjusting screw counterclockwise. Loosen until the flame gets mostly blue.
- Turn off the flame and tighten the adjustment screw.
- Clean any cloggage from the burner. You can use a snake brush if required.
3. Uneven Heating/Hot Spots
Uneven heating is very common grill problem which occurs due to any blockage in the burner unit. You have to clean your burner unit or units to solve this problem. Depending on the level of blockage you might have to detach the burner from the grill. After cleaning as much as you can light on the grill with the full flame for 15 minutes.
4. Gas Grill Just Won’t Light
If you are having this problem it is most likely that it is due to the igniters. Some grills have piezo-electric igniters or push-button igniters and some are battery-powered. It is very common to wear out the ignition batteries after some time. Check if your igniter is generating any spark or not.
You can get to the igniters by pulling off the cooking grates and the barrier and thus exposing the burners. Try to locate the position of the igniters (generally, at the root end of the burner) and push the ignition button. You should see a small spark or hear the sound of a click (Or a stream of clicks in case of electric smokers) if your grill machine has piezo-electric or push-button igniters. If your igniter is jammed, clean it very carefully and recheck it. Consider replacing the batteries if deemed necessary.
5. Grill Produces a Lot of Smoke
If your grill machine is producing a lot of smoke then there may be an excessive amount of grease inside the grill. To avoid such problems, you need to clean your grill machine properly. You can also preheat your grill machine for at least 10 or 15 minutes, before grilling.
6. Flame From Under the Grill, Behind the Control Panel
Inspect if there is any blockage in the air shutters or the venturi tubes. This can also occur if there are any misalignments between the tubes and the burners. Don’t forget to let the grill machine cool down before you start inspecting.
These are some of the most frequent grill troubleshooting problems you might face with your bbq machine. Before attempting to solve your grill problems on your own, please take proper safety measures. Don’t hesitate to call in professionals help if you feel the need for it.