Many people think that stainless steel will never rust. However, rust can form on stainless steel gas grill burners for several different reasons. Because burners operate at such high temperatures (typically 300 to 650 degrees Fahrenheit) and are subject to drippings from cooking meat (corrosive due to their moisture content and acidity), they are subject to rust. Weather conditions involving large amounts of moisture, rain or salty air can also cause rust to form. Over time, areas where grease can drip and accumulate, such as the seams that line the burner compartment, or the flame holes, may become thin and corroded. When the burner becomes significantly corroded, or ‘rusted out’, gas escapes through the corroded areas, creating ‘hot spots’ and making it difficult or impossible to cook food properly.
But you can prolong the life of your burner by following a few simple steps.
Signs that you need to clean your burner
Erratic flame pattern
The flame is low even when the burner control knob is set at HIGH
Flames do not run the whole length of the burner
Before you get started on cleaning your burners make sure you have the right tools. It can be a bit messy so you might want to have a pair of gloves. You should also have a wire brush, pipe cleaner or thin wire (for cleaning the flame holes), a putty knife, newspaper, and some cleaning rags or paper towels.
A wire brush can be used to lightly brush off debris and rust from your burner
These items can be used to clean the flame ports on your burner
The first step is to be sure the gas supply to your grill is off. You may even want to completely disconnect the gas tank from your grill. Then go ahead and remove the cooking grids, grill grates (now is a great time to clean those up too) and briquettes.
Remove your burners from the grill and lightly brush the burner with a wire brush to remove any debris. Pay special attention to the flame holes or ports.
Next, examine the flame holes or ports carefully to make sure they are not clogged. You can clean the flame holes using a pipe cleaner or thin wire to release any food build-up or grease residue. Flame holes can become clogged easily. When the flame holes are clogged more gas is forced out the remaining flame holes. This undue pressure can cause stress cracks which can eventually break into larger holes.
Use the supplied venturi tube cleaning brush or small bottle brush to clean out the venturis, removing any spider webs, dirt or debris.
Before you re-assemble the cooking grates and heat plates, connect the gas line, turn the gas on and test your burners. If you have a nice even flame pattern, turn off the grill and replace the remaining parts. it is normal to see your flame burn blue with tinges of yellow. If you have no blue in your flame or no flame at all, you may have a blockage in the venturi tube or orifice. After rechecking/cleaning the venturi tube, install the orifice at least 1/4″ to 1/2″ into the venturi tube. If the perfect mixture of oxygen and gas is present, you should now have a blue flame with tinges of yellow.
TIP:While you have the bottom of the aluminum casting exposed, take the opportunity to clean it the best you can by removing any gunk out with a putty knife, garden tool, etc.
Not all burners that are showing some wear and tear need to be replaced. For example, surface rust alone does not require replacement. In most cases, you just need to do a little routine maintenance such as cleaning the burner with a wire brush to remove the rust.
The following images show burners that need to be CLEANED.
Remove the rust build-up on this burner by using a wire brush
Unclog the flame ports with a thin wire. Ports should all be a uniform size.
The following images show burners that need to be REPLACED.
Corrosion on the burner has eaten away at the stainless steel causing a hole. This burner needs to be replaced.
Corrosion has also eaten away at this burner. Replacement is the only option here.