Grill Hack: The Easiest Way to Spot & Fix Gas Grill Hot Spots
There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to grill a big batch of burgers only to find one side is cooking faster than the other. No, it’s not your grilling skills—it’s your grill. You’ve got hot spots.
Every grill has hot spots, and they’re not necessarily a bad thing. Once you know where your hot spots are, they can often be fixed in just a few minutes. There are also ways you can use them to your advantage in the meanwhile—for instance, you can quickly sear a steak on a hot spot then move it over to a lower heat area to finish cooking. More on that later.
If you’re not excited about your gas grill hot spots, it’s easy to find and fix them. In this post, we’ll share our best #GrillHack for locating hot spots, as well as our advice for:
- Issues that may cause gas grill hot spots
- Gas grill burner adjustments and other grill hacks
Let’s get started.
#GrillHack: How to Locate Gas Grill Hot Spots
The simplest way to pinpoint gas grill hot spots is with sliced bread. Here’s how:
- Preheat the grill on high for 15-minutes, and then turn the heat down to medium.
- Place a single layer of sliced bread across the entire surface of your grill
- Close the lid and cook the sliced bread for for 60 seconds then turn off the grill
- Flip over each piece of bread, keeping the slices in the same place
- Where you see overdone toast is where you have hot spots
Once you’ve identified where your hot spots are, you can take steps to fix them. Before you dismantle your grill, it helps to understand what causes gas grill hot spots.
What Causes Gas Grill Hot Spots?
Gas grill hot spots are often caused by a blocked burner. Let’s dig deeper into some blockage issues and how to fix them.
1. Blocked burners
Blocked burners are one of the most common causes of gas grill hot spots. If you notice spots on your grill that are producing less heat or aren’t producing any flames at all, blocked burner or burner port holes could be to blame.
Sometimes food residue can build up and cause issues, and other times spiders and insects (ick!) can obstruct the tubes that feed gas to your burners. The good news is that blocked burners are easy to fix, often with just a simple cleaning. If a thorough scrub doesn’t do the trick, you can replace gas grill burners in just a few minutes.
How to fix blocked burners or burner port holes:
To fix blocked burners or burner port holes, remove the heat plates and burners and use a flexible venturi cleaning brush to clean debris from inside the tubes for each burner. Follow these steps:
- Ensure the propane tank or gas line is turned off.
- Lift out the cooking grates and remove the heat plates if your grill has them and set them both aside. This is a great time to give the cooking grates and your heat plates a deep clean.
- If you have an older grill that uses lava rock or ceramic briquettes, remove them along with the rock grate to access the burners.
- Remove the burners. Depending on the type of burner and how it is secured to the burner box, you may need to remove one or two screws with a screwdriver, or pull out the cotter pin before you can remove the burner.
- Once the burners are removed, give the burner box a thorough cleaning. This will help prevent flare ups and grease fires.
- Insert the venturi brush into the burner venturi tube and scrub to remove blockages or debris.
- Place the parts from steps 2 to 4 back in the gas grill.
2. Misaligned burner tubes
If cleaning the burners and burner port holes doesn’t do the trick, the venturi burner tubes may be misaligned. When burner tubes aren’t properly lined up with the gas valves, temperature distribution problems like hot spots can occur.
How to fix misaligned burner tubes:
Ensure the gas line is off, remove the grill grates and heat plates, and check that the burner tube is properly aligned on the gas valve. If not, reposition the tube so the valve is inside the burner opening.
3. Gas Grill Burner Adjustment of Air Shutters
Sometimes, the air shutters that control the flow of gas are dirty or need to be adjusted. The air-to-gas ratio is critical to achieving an even distribution of heat across the entire grill surface. When the air shutters aren’t functioning properly, you’ll get hot spots.
How to adjust gas grill burners and air shutters:
Sometimes a quick clean will help your grill’s air shutters work properly. If that doesn’t help, you can try the gas grill burner adjustment below. If you can’t reach the air shutter without removing the burners, try this:
- Remove burners.
- At the base of the burner, you’ll find some sort of gas grill burner adjustment. If there’s a screw holding the air adjuster to the burner, loosen the screw and turn the air adjustment.
- Put the burner back on the grill and fire it up.
- If you see blue flames with yellow tips, the setting is correct.
- Remove the burner and tighten the screw to hold the air adjuster in place.
- Repeat this process on all burners.
If you can reach the air shutter without removing the burners, try this:
- Light the grill.
- Remove the front control panel to expose the valves and manifold.
- Loosen the screw on the gas grill burner adjustment.
- Make the necessary adjustments by sliding the metal sleeve until you see the perfect flame that’s blue on the bottom and yellow at the top.
- Repeat on the remaining burners.
Learn to Love Your Gas Grill Hot Spots
Gas grill hot spots can be a frustrating inconvenience, especially if you’re grilling something large or for a crowd. If cleaning didn’t work, you can make do with your hot spots until you get the replacement parts you need.
The entire grill surface doesn’t necessarily have to be the same temperature because all foods don’t cook at the same temperature. That means you can temporarily use hot spots to your advantage while you wait for replacement parts to arrive—just use them to create direct and indirect heat zones.
Use your hot spots for high heat tasks like searing steaks, and avoid hot spots when grilling delicate foods that cook faster, like vegetables or fish. Having a slightly less intense flame on one side of your grill can also come in handy when you’re cooking with sauces, which tend to burn at higher temperatures—like BBQ chicken and ribs.
And our top #GrillHack for taking advantage of gas grill hot spots? The low-heat spots are perfect for turning your gas grill into a DIY smoker! Read our Grill Hack: How to Turn a Gas Grill Into a Smoker post for more savory smoking tips.