Why Won’t My Gas Grill Get Hot?

Dear Home-Ec 101,

The other night I decided to grill burgers, but I couldn’t get my gas grill to get hot. It was extremely frustrating and I ended up cooking my burgers under the broiler (with a lot of spite and bitterness, I might add). There was plenty of liquid propane, I just couldn’t get the flames high even with the burners wide open.

Do you have any idea why my gas grill wouldn’t heat?

Signed,
Flummoxed in Florida

Heather says:

Actually I’m quite familiar with your problem and have had several frustrating evenings cursing my gas grill, too. (Hush you charcoal grill owners, I want one of those, too -not instead of).

A gas grill -in this case I’m solely referring to liquid propane-  has a safety feature built into the gas regulator that is on the tube connecting your bottle of liquid propane to the grill itself. This safety valve will not open fully until the gas pressure has equalized between the bottle and the grill. If the burners are in the on position, gas is leaving the lines in the grill and this pressure cannot equalize.

Thankfully there is a very simple fix.

Completely shut the valve on the bottle of propane.

Turn off all of the burners. Check to make sure none of your minions have turned on the rotisserie you never use or any other accessories.  Double check to make sure they are all shut.

Ensure the lid of the grill is open.

Open the valve on the bottle of liquid propane fully.

Wait a few seconds.

Do a little dance, hum a little tune. Something. Anything, except turn on a burner. If the hose from your bottle of liquid propane is short, you really only need 10 seconds or so unless you are trying to grill when it is VERY cold. If you have several feet of hose, you need to wait a couple of minutes.

Now turn on the burner and light the grill.

It’s like magic, no?

No?

Ok, now we move up to phase two. It’s time to check for a gas leak. -You should perform this check fairly frequently to comply with safety standards.

Turn off all burners and the valve to the propane tank, too.

Get a spray bottle and partially fill it with very soapy water. (1/3 soap dish, 2/3 water -almost like you were going to blow bubbles)

Now spray the hose connections with your soapy water.

Open the valve on the tank of liquid propane and then carefully inspect each connection. If any bubbles are forming turn off the gas and reconnect and tighten the fittings.

That should fix most problems.

Good luck!

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Comments

  1. Kellyology says:

    I was going to leave some smart answer like, “Because it’s broken, ” but of course now I’m all ashamed by your great answer. Not to ashamed to type this, but never the less…

  2. Kellyology says:

    Apparently not too ashamed to not proofread either. (Change “to ashamed” to “too ashamed”)

  3. HeatherSolos says:

    @Kellyology Don’t worry, I’m the queen of typos around here. I had a typo in the HEADER for two weeks and no one said a thing.

  4. KeterMagick says:

    Heather’s advice is great and will probably fix you up, but if it doesn’t, I would add the following steps if low flow remains an issue:

    1. Turn off the gas bottle and remove/reinstall it, making sure the connection is mating up correctly and no bit of gasket material is getting in the way.

    2. Check the line for kinks or damage.

    3. Remove and check the burner connection to the hose. Make sure is is also a solid connection. I’ve seen small mud-pot wasps build nests up in the bottom end of the burner tube so look for that.

    4. Verify that there is some clearance between the burner and the rocks or bricks; anything that is up against the burner element will disrupt the gas flow and will result in both low temperature and possibly accumulating explosive gas pockets.

    5. How old is your regulator? Suspect it particularly if you have been hearing a noise coming from it. I replace mine as soon as I hear it making a noise. The original one lasted 10 years, the newer ones only make it 4-5 years.

    6. How about the flow control knobs on the grill? Are they all feeling solid, turning smoothly but not too quickly? If any are grating, grinding, or offering surprisingly little resistance, the valve controlled by that knob may have worn out…or gotten a wasp nest or other critter up into it. That’s a tear-down job to fix. (Ask me about the dead mouse in my air conditioner. Or better, don’t. Varmints can get into – and die in – the most unbelievable places.)

    7. With the burners off and all connections solidly made, turn the gas bottle on quickly. You should hear a rushing sound with a sudden stop. If you don’t hear that, you might have a dud gas bottle. There’s a rubber bladder inside the bottle that is kinda like the membrane on an egg, so that there’s a bubble on the bottom. That helps even out the pressure in the bottle. If that membrane breaks, the LP that’s on the inside might have gotten outside the membrane and messed up the pressurization. Or the valve on the bottle might have some debris or defect. If have done all of what Heather recommended and these additional steps and still have low flow, tape a “Possibly Defective” note on the gas bottle and take it back to where you bought it to swap it out. Hopefully, that will solve your problem.

    I am somewhat infamous for having purchased a heavy old Kenmore gas grill back in 1981 and continuing to rebuild it rather than buy a new one. Last year a second-hand, larger grill with a side burner was gifted to me, and now I have an outdoor kitchen. 30 years of drippings soaked into lava rocks = better than charcoal flavor. ;-)

  5. HeatherSolos says:

    @KeterMagick Well, you just wrote the next post in this series on grill maintenance I was starting today. Heh. Great advice. :) Thank you.

  6. KeterMagick says:

    @HeatherSolos Sorry, didn’t mean to step on your article. ♥

  7. HeatherSolos says:

    @KeterMagick Oh no worries, it’s just back to the drawing board for topics :)

  8. My wife was just giving me the stink eye cuz I told her the taters weren’t cooking and the grill wouldn’t get above 200. Then I read your wisdom and now my taters are crispy and delicious…thanks, mysterious internet wizard!

  9. thank you thank you so much this was driving me insane

  10. My natural gas grill wouldn’t get hotter than 250 degrees. Turns out there is a second valve (on the other side of the house nowhere near the hookup) that was only half-way open. Once I found this out and opened the other valve all the way it worked great!

  11. OMG. Can’t believe it was that simple. I have been using this grill for years and never had it not heat up like that. Had to grill burgers inside on the George Forman! Then today after reading, waited the 15 seconds before lighting and it heated right up to 400 degerees. THANKS!!

  12. Heather you forgot one very important thing.. To prevent the check lock closing you need to open the tank SLOWLY…….

  13. Thank you so much. This is not the first time experiencing this problem. This saved additional hours of frustration. Thanks again!!!

  14. Clifton said it all! I was about to start looking at replacement parts, when the simple “reboot” was all that was needed. Thanks for saving me from massive frustration and/or expense!

  15. I took Heather’s advice and am grilling again! Thanks sugar!

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