Angie's List: Maintaining your outdoor kitchen
With Independence Day in the rear-view mirror but the hottest vacation weeks still ahead this summer, your outdoor entertaining space may be getting a serious workout. It’s easy to think of exterior furniture as basically maintenance-free. After all, they’re built for outdoor weather and they get rained on all the time, right? But much like your interior, outdoor spaces require some time and attention to keep them in the best possible shape. Follow these tips to maintain your outdoor kitchen and grill, and you’ll get both more pleasurable experiences and many more years of usable life from them.
Even if your grill is constructed from corrosion-resistant materials, that doesn’t make it immune to rust and other damage buildup. Don’t just let your grill sit after it cools down, but rather clean it while it’s still warm. Follow these steps:
— Turn the heat up to medium or high for about seven minutes to burn off excess grease and fat.
— Brush the grates, panels and flavor bars with a special grill-cleaning brush. Brush as you would your teeth — removing any remnants of food that shouldn’t be there.
— Empty the grease trap to prevent a fire hazard.
— Never use soap and water on a grill.
— Buy a grill cover, and use it diligently.
At least once a year, consider hiring a professional to carefully tune up and service your grill. They’ll take it apart to clean parts you can’t easily reach, check the pressure to ensure burners are heating evenly, and calibrate the system. This service averages between $130 and $325. Proper cleaning can add years to your grill’s life.
OUTDOOR KITCHEN CARE
Homeowners usually install granite countertops in outdoor kitchens because they look great and can withstand a lot of heat. However, ultraviolet light still harms the stone over the long term. Hire a professional to seal the stone every three to five years with a commercial-grade sealer.
When you mow the lawn, take care to direct the clippings away from the kitchen. If dirt and grass shavings get onto the patio or façade, remove them quickly before they dry and stain the surface. You can hose it down or use a broom or leaf blower. Do the same if a storm blows dirt and debris onto the area.
Power wash the stone façade or patio at least once per year. This will help remove stains from grass clippings, grill smoke, grease buildup, or mildew that has settled on surface. Take care to follow the manufacturer’s directions. Natural stone can hold up to a great deal of power washing, but manufactured stone can be ruined by excessive pressure.
When the season ends, make sure you disconnect all the utilities. Turn off the gas to the grill and unplug the appliances. If you live in an area with freezing winters, make sure you drain the supply lines to any sinks or water sources. Otherwise, the pipes could freeze or burst.
Paul F. P. Pogue is a reporter for Angie’s List, a trusted provider of local consumer reviews and an online marketplace of services from top-rated providers. Visit AngiesList.com.