Five ways to tune up your barbecue for grilling season

Here's how to breathe new life into your old grill

By Ryan Shervill

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3. Grill power

The grills tend to see a lot of abuse and are generally the next thing to go on a barbecue. This fix will make your outdoor feasts taste better, and make cleanup at the end of a meal easier too. There are replacements readily available, in both fixed sizes and expand-to-fit configurations. Take measurements and, if you can, take the old grills into the store with you to get the best match. Installation couldn’t be simpler: just drop the new grills in place.





4. The heat is on

Most older barbecues use a combination of a wire grid and a layer of lava rock or ceramic briquettes for heat distribution. Generally speaking, the grates and rocks don’t last very long, as the heat fluctuations and dripping fat tend to take their toll rather quickly. While looking for a replacement grid, I came upon an alternative: heat distribution plates. These are essentially louvered ceramic-coated metal plates designed to cover the burner, distribute the heat evenly and prevent flare-ups. Most new barbecues come with some form of heat distribution plate (also called vaporizer bars) instead of rocks. I found a universal plate that expanded to the proper dimensions for my project barbecue. Simply screw the plate in place and you’re ready to move on to the next (and final) fix.



5. Start me up

It seems that every barbecue I have ever owned had the same type of igniter: the twist-to-ignite units that work great for about a week. I don’t know why they don’t last, but I always seem to find myself igniting the flame with a match while defending my eyebrows. I found another universal part that I hope will end my grief: a piezoelectric ignitor. This handy little starter installs in the hole from your old ignitor and uses a single AA battery and an electrode to provide the spark required. Instead of searching for the matches after hitting the ignitor, I now hear the satisfying whoosh of the burner igniting.




The finished barbecue, ready to grill.


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