Preparing Your Outdoor Kitchen & Grill for Winter
Tags: gas grill, grill, outdoor kitchen, safety, winter, winter safety
Outdoor kitchens are highly-sought-after features in new homes. Whether you have a full outdoor kitchen with a refrigerator, smoker and pizza oven, or a simple built-in grill, outdoor sink and countertop, protect your investment with annual fall maintenance. We’ve outlined how to winterize your outdoor kitchen and grill. Taking these simple steps before freezing temperatures hit will increase the useful life of your equipment, prevent unnecessary damage and make it easier to fire everything back up next spring.
Do you Have to Winterize an Outdoor Kitchen?
Whether or not you need to prepare your outdoor kitchen for winter depends on where you live. Here in Wichita and south-central Kansas, where temps often get well below freezing for an extended period of time, homeowners need to winterize their outdoor kitchens. This will prevent frozen pipes and damage to your grill and outdoor appliances.
Winterize Your Outdoor Kitchen
First, give your entire outdoor kitchen a thorough wipe down with mild soap and water. This includes the countertops, cooking surfaces, outdoor sink, and the appliance fronts. If you have stainless steel cabinets or appliances, use stainless steel polish to clean and protect them. Turn off and drain the water lines to the sink to prevent frozen pipes.
Unplug any appliances that won’t be used in the winter months. Then, cover everything with a tarp. This will block rain, ice, snow, pests and dirt. While you’re at it, this is also a good time to cover your outdoor furniture or store it in the shed or garage.
Winterize Your Grill
Most of us keep our grills outside permanently without thinking much about how they stand up to the weather, assuming a grill cover is sufficient. But it’s a good idea to spend a little time cleaning and winterizing your grill in the fall so it will last longer and even cook better.
Clean the Grill Grates
If you have a gas grill, fire it up on high heat for 10-15 minutes to help burn off the food residue from a summer’s worth of burgers and brats. After it cools, you can use a grill brush to scrape any remaining goop off of the grates. We recommend a nylon brush over metal because they won’t scratch the grill grates or leave behind small metal flakes that could get into your food.
Once the large particulates have been removed, take the grill grates and any other removable pieces inside and give them a good scrub with warm, soapy water. Once the grill parts have been washed and dried, spray the grates with cooking spray or rub them lightly with cooking oil to help prevent rust over the winter. After the inside pieces of the grill have been cleaned, use a sponge to clean the rest of the hard surfaces on your grill.
Store Your Grill
If you’re not going to use your outdoor grill during the winter, turn off the propane but leave the propane tank connected. Grills connected to a natural gas line should be disconnected before storing. You can store your grill outside for the winter; just be sure to use a grill cover to protect it from the elements and block birds from nesting inside it.