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Keeping your grill great
With warm temperatures finally here, it's time to haul out the barbeque and get it ready for the season. We think we can make it a bit easier for you this go round.
Here are a few common gas grill problems and their solutions:
BURNERS THAT WON'T LIGHT OR ARE DIM
When the burners won't light, there is often an obstruction in the fuel supply line. This normally occurs between the on-off valve on the barbecue and the burner.
The usual culprit: A bug. Even when the valve is off, insects can nest in the line. Keeping them out is tough to prevent -- even wrapping the unit in a plastic bag hasn't done the trick.
So you'll have to deal with it on the other end by cleaning them out. Here's how:
—Remove the cover that conceals the metal line between the burners and the on-off valve on the barbecue (not the on-off valve to the propane tank).
—With the fuel tank completely off, disconnect the fuel line.
—Immerse the line in cleaner and use a long, soft, narrow wire to thoroughly clean the inside of the fuel tube. We use auto parts cleaning solvent and air pressure from our compressor. Never put the line back unless you know it is completely dry.
—Replace the parts as they were removed only after spraying soapy water on the connections to insure that there are no leaks. If a leak exists, the soapy water will bubble.
If you are experiencing uneven heating, chances are your burners are rusted or corroded.
When a burner is new all of the holes are the same size. As grease and food make their way to the bottom of the barbecue the burner ports often become partially clogged. Also, rust can wreak the same kind of havoc.
All that is needed here is a wire brush, an ice pick and 20 minutes of your time. Barbecue burners are usually very easy to remove. That's because they are designed to be easily removed for cleaning.
Remove the various layers between the cooking surface and the burners, and then simply remove the burner. It may be wise to review your owner's manual on how to perform this task. Use a wire brush to completely clean the burner surfaces scrub until a shine results.
Use the ice pick to loosen fragments caught in the burner holes. Clean until all of the holes look about the same size. Use an air compressor at your local gas station if need be, and ensure that all debris has been removed from within the burner.
NEW, BUT TATTERED
The really neat thing about barbeques is that they are either stainless steel, enameled or painted.
Stainless is best cleaned with stainless cleaner period.
Enameled surfaces are best cleaned with mild acid like vinegar.
However, painted barbecues tend to remain dirty looking no matter how hard you scrub. That's why we paint ours ever season or two.
Flat black engine paint (high heat paint) is just about the easiest and most forgiving paint on the planet to apply. If you haven't tried it, you are in for a treat:
—Scrub everything down with soapy water. Rinse and dry.
—Use masking or painter's tape to mask off everything you don't want painted (including the ground).
—Sand or wire wheel any and all rust.
—Spot paint the shiny spots with the flat black engine paint (or a metal primer for high heat applications) and wait until dry.
—Next, shoot a coat over the whole unit.
—Remove the tape and be amazed at the beauty you've created.
A dirty cast iron barbecue grill grate is easy to clean. Here's how:
—Get a bowl of plain water and a long grill cleaning brush (the metal kind).
—Get the barbecue as hot as you can get it.
—Submerse the cleaning brush in the water and immediately scrub a rung from end to end until all the water disappears (about 7 seconds). Repeat for each rung.
—Finally, lightly coat the grill with oil to season it.
You should not use this process on stamped metal grill (the kind that looks like the top of a broiler pan). It will warp and twist and be damaged beyond repair.
Organization Tips: This time, follow them!
For about $6,000 per year you can instantly solve all of your home storage problems by renting space at your local storage facility ($500 a month gets you a 16-by-20-foot storage space in California).
Or, you can rethink your home organization plan, solve your storage problems quickly and easily -- and save a fortune in rental and logistics costs.
Here are several key things to mull over. Sure, some are obvious. But this time, don't just read about them. Do them!
- Get rid of junk. If you haven't used it for years, sell it, donate it or discard it. When was the last time you went through the hall closet or the toy box?
- Repack important items into smaller or more carefully packed containers. Make sure containers are airtight if they are to be stored in the attic, crawl space or an outbuilding. Rodents and roaches love living in piles of old photographs and memorabilia.
(By the way, if you're thinking of an outbuilding, a nice ready-made storage building will cost anywhere from $500 to $3,000 depending on size; an average one sells for about $1,200.)
- Closet organization systems are better and cheaper than ever. Look into what's available and make full use of precious closet space. Consider splitting your wardrobe into summer and winter. Creating an offseason closet somewhere in your home can make your everyday wear easier to get at.
- Discard outdated medications (they all have a shelf life). Check with your local waste haulers on how to properly accomplish this.
- Summer swim things (goggles, fins, inflatables and other items made of rubber and plastic) are best stored in a cool area like a crawl space or basement. Never store anything that is heat-sensitive in an attic.
IN THE KITCHEN
Rollouts and pullouts in the kitchen make lots of sense, but there are other ways to make good use of available space:
- Use a flat sheet of plastic between two tiers of short glasses (or other dishware), to take full advantage of the shelf-height in a kitchen cabinet.
- The cabinet over the wall oven or the one over the refrigerator are usually used to store stuff that is rarely used. This is because it is impossible to see what these cabinets contain without getting up on a stool or step ladder. Install vertical dividers in these puppies and you instantly create easy-to-access storage for trays, sheet pans, cutting boards, drying racks, broiler pans and more. When the door is opened you see what the cabinet contains front to back.
- Nest pots and lids separately from each other. Lids can be kept in a shallow drawer; nested pots take up almost no shelf space.
MAKE USE OF SPACE YOU HAVE
- How about the area above the car in the garage? Did you know that there are several ceiling-mount shelf systems available on the market? Some even have their own built-in lift systems so that they can easily be reached from ground level. Pull the car out of the garage and there it is: easy-access storage as never before.
—Don't store garden tools and equipment in the garage if you can possibly avoid it. Use an outbuilding instead. Gardening items do well in such storage. Why muddy up the garage? Free it up for clean storage.
- Sell your wooden ladder to someone who has the available weatherproof storage and buy an aluminum one that can be kept outside. Aluminum ladders do really well mounted on an exterior wall with hooks made for the task.
- It really is important to design flexibility into storage features. For example: As your wardrobe changes so do your closet storage needs, but there are very inexpensive storage systems that convert from multiple-shelving to hanging-storage in moments. This kind of versatility can prove to be invaluable even during seasonal changes.
KAREL’S KORNER: Put some Step in your Spring!
There’s no such thing as the fountain of youth, but you can keep yourself feeling younger by getting as little as 200 minutes of exercise per week. This is only forty minutes a day, five days a week. You can break that down even further into two twenty-minute segments per day. If you’re looking for a place to sneak in that extra exercise, try taking a walk during your lunch break, or going for a jog instead of sitting down in front of the television. The average American watches 20+ hours of TV a week. If you replaced just three or four of those hours with physical activity, you’d be in much better shape!
Losing weight is about so much more than just looking better. One study has shown that men with waistlines larger than 38 inches are twice as likely to develop health problems such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. Don’t rely on fad diets, or miracle pills that sound too good to be true. Discuss your exercise and diet plans with a qualified health professional. It’s never too late to improve your quality of life, or even to increase your life expectancy. So make the life choice and get moving!
Stay young at heart, Karel.
For more fitness tips and to order a copy of my ‘Living Proof’ DVD, go to www.overthehillfitness.com.