Why Does My Gas Grill Catch on Fire? And How to Prevent It
The summer afternoon is perfect. You’re enjoying a beer as you watch the kids play in the backyard, and the burgers are cooking on the grill.
When you go to flip the burgers, you are met with flames shooting through the grates. It is probably just a flare-up if it only lasts a few seconds, but if it does not stop and is intense, it is likely a grease fire.
How did it happen? Your backyard BBQ was perfect, but now all of your burgers are charred, and your grill looks like a firepit.
Gas grills usually catch fire for one reason only.
The main cause of gas grill fires is grease buildup inside the grill. Grease accumulates in the firebox, on the burners, and in other areas of the grill when grills aren’t cleaned properly. Grease fires can be caused by grease vaporizing and igniting. If you have a grease fire on your gas grill, turn off the gas and open the lid so the grease can burn off.
Grill fires are primarily caused by gas grills, according to NFPA data. Failure to clean gas grills caused 33% of structure fires caused by gas grill fires.
You can easily prevent grease fires on your grill. You’ll learn how to avoid them and what to do if you do encounter one.
Why Your Gas Grill Keeps Catching on Fire
Since gas grills are designed to produce a flame, you may think they are always on fire. Despite the fact that technically a fire is going, it is controlled, and only the fuel being supplied is burning.
It is a fire that is not controlled by the design of the grill when it refers to a gas grill catching on fire.
Grease Buildup on Grill Surfaces
As you use your grill repeatedly, grease accumulates on its surfaces. The grease comes from the fat in the meat you are grilling. The fat melts as the meat heats up, dripping to the surfaces below. When you turn off the grill, the grease solidifies on the grill surfaces.
As grease builds up on your grill, it can liquefy, then vaporize, and be ignited by the flame, resulting in a grease fire.
A small grease fire may occur on its own if you are grilling excessively fatty meats. A grill that is operating should never be left unattended.
Grease Buildup in Drip Pan
It is easy to overlook the drip pan below your grill. The inside of the firebox is better visible than the outside. In addition, grease is more likely to collect there because it is out of sight.
If the grease in the drip pan catches on fire, it can be a more dangerous situation, depending on your grill’s design. In most instances, the drip pan is outside of the firebox, which can help contain a grease fire.
You may overflow your drip tray out of sight if you have a cabinet below your grill that houses the grease management system. In addition, if the grease in the catch pan catches fire, it could spread to those other areas.
Other Reasons Gas Grill Fires
The most common cause of gas grill fires is grease fires. Other causes may be less common, but they can be just as dangerous.
The grill could catch fire if there’s a mechanical issue, like a rusted-out burner.
Gas grills can also catch fire if there’s anything combustible near them. Make sure your grill isn’t too close to anything that can catch on fire.
Lastly, a gas leak can cause the most severe gas grill fire. When you light your grill, a leak may allow flammable gases to accumulate, causing an explosion or fireball.
How to Prevent Gas Grill Fires
If you’re having more flare-ups than usual, haven’t cleaned your grill in a while, or can see excessive grease build up on your grill’s surface, you should do more to prevent a fire.
Clean Grates Before Use
Preheating your grill for 10-15 minutes on high is the best way to do it. By doing so, you will help burn off the residue from prior use on the grates and other grill surfaces.
Use a grill brush to clean the grates after you have heated your grill. Dip the grill brush in water before using it on the grates. Before putting any food on the grates, steam them thoroughly.
Ensure that there is no grease or other residue accumulating below the grates. This is a good sign that you need to do a more thorough cleaning.
Check Drip Pan Frequently
The frequency of checking the drip pan may vary depending on how often you grill. It’s a good idea to check it every time before you fire up the grill. This doesn’t take long at all.
Sometimes rodents like to get in there too. They can displace the drip pan, so it is also a good check to see it is installed correctly. And keeping it clean helps deter inviting them from checking it out.
don’t cost that much and are easy to swap out and dispose of.
Make sure to check the system that diverts grease and droppings into your drip pans when you swap them out. This can result in additional grease buildup within the firebox when the openings get clogged with debris.
Perform Routine Deep Cleaning
Depending on how frequently you use your grill, it will require a more thorough cleaning.
Two to three times a year, you should give it a more thorough cleaning. You should grill more often if you grill multiple times a week. Always shut off the gas at the source before grilling.
You should remove any removable items from the firebox (grates, smokebox, flavor bars, etc.) so that you can identify any grease accumulations and remove them. Using a good degreaser will make this activity much easier.
You can use a power washer to help clean your grill if you have one. Use a low-pressure nozzle so you don’t damage anything.
Check Your Grill for Leaks
A gas leak can also cause a gas grill fire, so be sure to check for it. You should perform a leak test whenever you break a connection in the gas supply line.
Gas should be turned on after you apply soapy water to the connections. Stop the gas, fix the connection, and repeat the leak test if bubbles appear.
After deep cleaning your grill, you should also conduct a leak test.
Other Ways to Prevent Gas Grill Fires
- Keep your grill away from structures and combustible materials
- Grilling in high winds is not recommended
- Keep the lid open when grilling fattier foods
- Grills should never be left unattended
What to Do if Your Grill Is on Fire?
When you have a gas grill fire that is larger than a typical flare-up, the most important thing to remember is not to panic. Panicking can lead to actions that will worsen the situation.
Do Not Use Water
You’ve probably heard that oil and water don’t mix.
A grease fire can be spread by using water. Water will displace the grease, and if the water flashes to steam, the grease (and fire) will follow.
Turn Off the Gas
Turn off the burner controllers if it is safe to approach the grill. As an alternative, you can shut off the gas supply at the tank or gas line shut-off valve.
Open or Close the Lid?
When dealing with grease fires, you usually want to cut off their oxygen supply in order to smother them. The most common method in the kitchen is to cover it with a pan.
The vents on charcoal grills can be closed. Gas grills, however, have openings that allow air to enter that cannot be closed. In addition, most gas grill grease fires begin when the lid is closed due to heat buildup.
As a result, the lid can remain open while there are no combustible sources nearby to allow any remaining grease to burn off.
Move a grill that is not in use or that is on fire if you are moving it!
Use Salt or Baking Soda
A grease fire can be put out with salt or baking soda if you are not comfortable with letting it burn itself out. Due to the amount of baking soda needed, you should only consider using it for small fires and salt for moderate fires.
Use a Fire Extinguisher If Necessary
In the event that shutting off the gas and letting the grease burn off does not put out the fire and you do not have enough baking soda, use a Class B fire extinguisher. The type of fire extinguisher you should have in your kitchen or garage is the one designed to deal with flammable liquids.
Call 911 if you are unable to shut off the gas, the fire seems out of control, or it is likely to spread to a building.
You should call 911 if you feel the need to go look for a fire extinguisher. In case you cannot find one, or the fire cannot be extinguished, you should have professional help on the way.
Conclusion on Gas Grills Catching on Fire
Gas grill fires can create a scary situation if you have never experienced one.
In most cases, they can be prevented.
When they occur frequently, you are probably dealing with a grease buildup.
You can minimize the likelihood of a gas grill fire by keeping your grill clean, making sure it works properly and using it safely.