Friday, September 4, 2015

BBQ Grill Woes

I picked up a new Brinkmann BBQ grill back in June 2012. It was a fairly decent one for the price or so it seemed. The thing is, it has already started falling apart. I figure though, the reason certain parts have failed is pretty much my fault and expect I would have gotten another 2 years out of it had I been a bit more careful. The parts that failed were all attached to the burners. One burner, the sear burner, had a tab attached to it with spot welds. That tab screwed into the body of the grill to hold the burner in place. The spot welds broke yesterday when I was cleaning the grill. Before that, the heat tents (or whatever you call the angles pieces of metal above the burners) were rusting through even though I cleaned them often. On two of them, the tabs at the ends (two on each end) that held them in place against the grill body snapped off in normal use. The other thing that went were the gas crossovers had all rusted badly and a couple of them had simply rusted so badly they fell off. The 4 main burners, only one burner had electronic ignition and the crossovers assure that the flame from that one lights the other burners as they funnel gas from one burner to the next. I just lit each burner with a long flaming stick.

As I said though, I figure almost all of the fault with those parts failing so soon was due to my negligence. While I regularly cleaned this grill, more than the last one we had and that one lasted 5 years or so, I forgot to empty the drip pan twice before cooking. Each time I forgot, it was pretty full of greasy sludge. I was cooking ribs each time I forgot to clean it and they drip a lot of fat, and the fat dripping out sometimes causes the flame to really flare up, and with the drip pan full of grease from the previous couple of get the picture and if you don't let me say I was surprised the tree next to the grill did not go up in flames. The first time it happened, my wife yelled at me that the grill was on fire and I ran upstairs from the basement where I was grabbing something, probably a beer. It sure was on fire and not just the normal flame from the burners nor your everyday flare-up either. It looked like an inferno, it was blazing. Even though the lid was closed flames were shooting out of its vents and probably reached at least 3 or 4 feet above the grill, maybe higher. The next time was pretty much the same thing except I was inside preparing something else for the grill. I am going to guess that the temperature must have gotten over 750 degrees (the thermometer topped out at 600 and the needle was way past that). I suppose that additional heat must have stressed the metal an awful lot. Some of the stainless steel on the cover was pretty discolored after the first flare-up and worse after the second.  Its my bet that all the parts that broke would not have broken or rusted through the way they did had those flare-ups never happened. Oh well, live and learn. I have been a lot more careful to make sure the grates, drip pan and the heat tents are clean before I BBQ anything - especially the drip pan.

Yesterday, I priced replacement parts. The heat tents, 4 of them, would run me about $50, the sear burner another $30 and the crossovers about $20. Add shipping to that and it would have been a total of about $115-$125. I pondered whether or not I should repair it or just get a new one. I knew if I repaired it, it might last another season or two before something else, that was already old and weakened from the excessive heat, might break. 

While looking for the parts, I had visited the Brinkmann website and lo and behold, they had the same model grill (looking a little different) for sale a $289.99 with free shipping. I was tempted but didn't order it. I talked it over with she who must be obeyed (sometimes anyway) and she said go for it as soon as I told her about the price. I still hesitated to order it. There were some things I never liked about the grill and others I liked. It cooked pretty darned good compared to others we have had and that was a big plus along with its size, it is a pretty big grill. Then again, it has an open back to the cabinet which totally sucks and the drip pan is only accessible from the rear which means I have to pull the damned thing away from our fence each time I clean it. Our prior grill's drip pan was front accessible and much more convenient.  

The price was good though so I went back to the site and looked again today. This time, I noticed that if I signed up for their newsletter, I would get an additional 10% off the price. That dropped the price to $260.99. I reconsidered. Even though I would have to put this one together myself (Home Depot assembled it last time) because I am ordering it direct and even if the grill winds up falling apart in three years, the deal was tempting enough to have me bite. I ordered one a little while ago. I am hopeful that UPS will not destroy it during shipment.

This time around, I am going to strip the new grill, of the burner parts that failed, at each BBQ season's end and give them an extra good cleaning. I figure that will help them last. I am also going to be extra careful to prevent future flare-ups. I figure that will do a lot to extend the life of the parts. I may even make a back for this one myself to fully enclose the cabinet. In addition, I will have some spare, albeit used, parts from the old one as backup (like the grill grates, four main burners, screws and whatever). Time will tell if I was right or wrong to have ordered another one. Maybe one of these years I'll buy a grill for $1,000 or more, one that might actually last 10 years but right now I am on the south side of broke and even the amount I am paying for this new one is taxing my resources beyond the limit. If you are in a similar situation and need to replace a grill, you may want to check out that deal. If it only lasts three years, it works out to about $87 per year and I figure that to be worth it right now.

All the best,
Glenn B