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Neglected barbecue will need thorough cleaning

Q: I inherited my brother-in-law’s old propane barbecue after he bought a new one. The barbecue works, but it looks like it has been neglected for years. There is burned-on debris on the grates and a portion of the burner won’t light. Any ideas on getting ready for the weekend cookout?

A: Your “new” barbecue sounds downright unsanitary. At some point, I’m sure there was burned-on food on the grates, that is until the ants and cockroaches picked them clean and left you with the gristle.

If you like cleaning your oven, then you’re going to love cleaning the barbecue, especially one that has five years of sludge sticking to it. Besides the filth, the igniter should be checked and the burners need to be cleaned out because, over time, sauces and food have dripped onto the ports where the propane should be flowing out.

Start by disassembling the parts of the barbecue. Remove the tank, grilling surfaces, upper racks and drip pan.

Use a paint scraper and remove as much of the gunk as you can. Then, spray the grills with oven cleaner and put them inside two extra-thick plastic outdoor garbage bags. Let the grills sit overnight and clean them off in the morning. Make sure you read the manufacturer’s instructions for the oven cleaner.

For the drip pan, you can use dishwashing soap and hot water, or just throw it in the dishwasher after you scrape out the gunk.

The burner will also need to be cleaned. You may have a round burner or a series of tubes with gas ports along the perimeter where the flames shoot out. A lot of times you will notice that the flame isn’t continuous along the burner.

In most cases, food or grease has plugged up the port that would otherwise ignite the flame. Clean out the port with something small and stiff, like a pin or paper clip. You also can clean it with a wire brush.

To rejuvenate the outside of the barbecue, you can use some heat-resistant spray paint and make the barbecue look like a shiny new car, no waxing required.

A lot of times you will find that the igniter doesn’t work. You can either clean it with a wire brush or buy a new one. The spark wire just slides on, and the push-button is held on by a nut.

By the way, if you need replacement parts for the barbecue, contact the manufacturer to get virtually any part you need.

Once you are finished, fire up the grill and invite your brother-in-law over. He may feel like you stole his lunch from him once he sees how beautiful his old cast-off looks.

Mike Klimek is a licensed contractor and owner of Las Vegas Handyman. Questions may be sent by email to handymanoflasvegas@msn.com. Or, mail to 4710 W. Dewey Drive, No. 100, Las Vegas, NV 89118. His web address is www.handymanoflasvegas.com.

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