The Creepy Reason Your Gas Grill May Be Getting Hard to Light
When my husband and I set up our first gas grill last summer, I had one major fear. I wasn’t afraid we’d overcook everything to a crisp or undercook meats at a dangerous level. And I wasn’t worried about hooking up the propane tank incorrectly. What had me so nervous? The idea of spiders (and spider webs, more specifically) in the burner tubes.
Last summer, we got a convertible gas-or-charcoal grill by Char-Broil (cleverly named the Gas2Goal). About an hour into the assembly process — we had just finished taking all the pieces out of the packaging! — I finally started reading the directions, when I saw this warning above. Spiders? Inside the grill? Flashback? Aah! This all sounded horrifying!
While I would 100 percent prefer to cook over charcoals, I knew that wouldn’t always be an option for us and I knew that gas would become our quick-and-easy, go-to method. (Hey, it’s still better than cooking inside!) I also knew that spiders were a giant issue at our house. I mean that literally.
They are everywhere and they are enormous. There once was a spider the size of a doughnut on my screen door. And one the size of a silver dollar recently crawled up through the kitchen drain (I wish I could say I handled it calmly and cooly, but I panicked, squished it with a skillet, and then made my husband “handle” it when he came downstairs). We also have regular, less-mutant-sized spiders that spin webs in our basement faster than we can sweep them away. (To be fair, our house is more than 250 years old!) So I was very worried about spiders getting into the burner tubes of our new grill and causing a fire — or something worse.
According to the manual, a sure sign of spiders in the tubes would be that the grill was hard to light or the flame was weak, but what if I didn’t notice or there wasn’t time to notice … and something terrible happened?
I had to get to the bottom of this.
“Spiders do like grills and they like to build nests that can cause problems — especially if they build them inside the burner tubes,” confirms Clark Turner, the director of product management, gas grills at Char-Broil. “It is important to periodically inspect and clean your grill.”
Um, cool. But how often?
“We recommend checking at the beginning and end of the grilling season and periodically throughout the grilling season,” Turner says, adding that it’s important to be on the general lookout for cobwebs or insects entering and leaving your grill.
Turner goes on to tell me that I have to remove the burners, inspect them, and clean them out if anything foreign is present. He suggests flushing them out with clean water or using a skinny brush. I didn’t see anything in my tubes at the beginning of this season (and I didn’t know to check them at the end of last season!), but I still did both methods. Because I was scared! The good news was that the burner tubes were incredibly easy to remove, clean, and replace, so I will probably start doing this every time I grill — it’s unnecessary but totally warranted by my paranoia.
He also mentions that a proper cover is a good way to keep spiders from getting into your grill. With that info, I’m now considering wrapping my grill with two covers. I’d like to say that I’d just keep my burner tubes inside the house when they’re not in use, but you all know that’s not off-limits to spiders, either! Maybe we should switch to charcoal.
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