How to Start a Propane Grill

Propane grills are an easy alternative for charcoal ones. They are also suitable for all those who are not big fans of smoky flavors and want to keep their barbecue outings free from firewood emissions. Despite its easy handling, starting a propane grill still needs some proficiency, particularly if you haven’t used it before.

Learn How to Start a Propane Grill

In this article, we will keep our discussion centered on the important topic of how to start a propane grill. We will cover both the automatic and manual ways of starting a propane grill and ways of identifying and fixing the problems that often arise over the course of use.

Safely Starting a Propane Grill With Automatic Starter

By introducing automatic starters, grill manufacturers have made grilling a reasonably effortless cooking activity. With quick start and easy handling of propane grills, you get more time to perfect the marinades of the grilled food and to take part in the conversations. Without any further ado, let’s see what goes into starting a propane grill that comes with a fixed automatic starter.

1. Open the Lid

Before pushing any buttons or lighting anything, open the lid of your propane grill. A gas grill with the close lid contains an explosion hazard. With unseen gas fumes building up even at a very slow rate, igniting a grill can be really dangerous. Whether the gas is on or off, you need to open the lid and wait for 5-10 minutes before lighting it.

2. Supply the Gas

If you are going to start the propane grill for the first time, then it’s very likely that you have to supply it with the gas connection as well. If that’s the case, you have to take care of certain things. The majority of propane grills are portable and thus they are usually supplied with gas tanks. One should always hook up the gas tank to the load (grill) with extreme caution. If you are doing it on your own, then we would recommend you to follow the user manual for it.

Many times those user guide booklets get lost with the packaging. In that case, use the internet. Search using the manufacturer’s name and model number and you will easily find out the user manual.

If you are using the grill in your kitchen and don’t have any plan to move it, then you can also supply it with your main natural gas connection. Some compact propane grills also come with small gas canisters. Here, you don’t have to manually set up anything for gas supply.

3. Turn on the Gas Supply

When you are sure that the gas connection is safe, turn on the gas. In the majority of propane grill models, these are given on the front panel of the grill. You just need to turn them clockwise or anti-clockwise. After turning the knobs on, wait for 10-15 seconds before pushing the ignition button.

4. Ignite the Grill

This is the last step in starting an automatic propane grill. After turning on the gas, push the ignition button that is usually given on the same panel. Here too, you will need to see the user manual because every propane grill comes with a different automated ignition system. For instance, the ignition is built in within the gas knob in some models. On the other hand, some have a separate ignite button.

The automatic ignition or starter actually introduces a spark in the gas-emitting burner to light it. In some cases, you will need to turn multiple knobs since every burner is connected and controlled with its own knob.

Starting a Propane Grill Manually

Now let’s have some discussion on the propane grill that is trickier to operate. Models that come with manual start and ignition needs more care and skill to get going. This is the reason why people who haven’t used a manual propane grill get quite restless while starting it.

You don’t need to worry at all even if you haven’t started a manual propane grill before. With the instructions we are going to share in the below section, starting a manual propane grill will get as easy as the automatic one.

The initial steps of starting a manual propane grill remain the same. Open its lid to prevent fume buildup. Supply it with gas, if required, just the way we have discussed in the above section. When you are sure that the gas is running through burner lines, it’s time for the most important phase of starting a manual propane grill—igniting its burner.

Igniting a Manual Propane Grill in 4 Simple Steps

The manual grill can easily be ignited in these four simple steps.

  1. Find the lighting hole on the grill’s exterior. A small hole is usually given on the side panel of the grill near the burners. If you can’t find it just with a visual inspection, refer to the user manual instead of trying to ignite the grill from a wrong opening.
  2. Once you are sure about the lighting hole, fix the match on the curled holder that comes with manual propane grill. If you don’t have it, then get one.  There are two reasons why these holders are needed. It allows you to keep your hand on a distance to rule out any flame exposure. Secondly, many propane grills come with really narrow lighting holes where it’s quite difficult to put the lighted match directly from the hand. The narrow and long arm length of the holder allows you to easily enter the match in the hole. If you are not a pro and trying to ignite a manual propane grill without a holder, then prepare for wasting a lot of matchsticks and frustration.
  3. After mounting a match on the holder, light it and enter it into the lighting hole. Make sure you have already turned on the closest burner. If your propane grill is working fine, then it will be ignited in the first attempt.
  4. As the single burner is ignited, turn on the other knobs and wait for the ignited burner to cross light them. The same procedure can also be used to light an automatic grill whose ignition has broken down.

Working with a Faulty Propane Grill

Even if you are well-versed in starting a propane grill, things get slightly different when they are old and develop some faults over the course of time. In order to keep your grilling risk and hassle-free, we would recommend you to have active troubleshooting conduct for the grill. There are multiple things that you have to take care of while working and starting an old propane grill.

 Replace the Rigid Rubber Pipes Immediately

Any portable grill is connected to its propane tank with rubber pipes. Over a long period of use and getting used in rough outdoor conditions, the rubber pipes start wearing down.  Besides visible signs of wear and tear, the flexibility of the rubber pipes is a major giveaway regarding its remaining operating life.

When you experience that a rubber pipe is not as elastic as it was at the time of installation, and feel quite stiffed during turning and twisting, then it’s time to replace it.

Don’t Avoid the Hissing Sound Coming from the Grill and Cylinder

Even when the burners of your propane grill are properly firing up, if there is the slightest sound of hissing then we would recommend you to check the entire setup for leaks instead of using it as before. One DIY method of checking gas leaks is to apply soapy water on the entire gas supply length i.e. pipe, connector, and valve. Wherever you see bubble formation in on the applied lather, it indicates a leak. Using a leaky propane setup is dangerous and we are pretty sure we don’t need to discuss why is it so.

Burner Replacement

In some instances, the ignition and gas supply is all perfect and fine, but the grill still refuses to start. If that’s the case, it may be the time to replace the burner. Burner replacement is not expensive troubleshooting. You can easily find some cheap yet reliable burner models of your propane grill on any hardware or home store.

Dealing With a Cold Gas Supply

If you live in a region that experiences some significant temperature during winter and, then be ready for the slow gas supply in the grill during the entire season. Low temperatures actually freeze some part of propane to cut down its fluid volume. If you are using propane grills in winters, then open the gas valve of the cylinder a couple of hours before using it.

In case mercury drops below the freezing point, you might have to ‘defrost’ the propane supply by placing it somewhere warmer.

Our Final Thoughts

The ignition system of automatic propane grills is often powered by batteries. So, also have a look at them once in a while to check loose connections and battery condition.

With proper care and following the prescribed instructions, you can start a propane grill without any problem, which may otherwise spoil the beginning of a wonderful grilling evening.

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