Every year I make Patrick clean the grill, and every year he complains.
Brandon Methey, owner of the BBQ Doctor mobile service (619-333-0540) spends most of his time cleaning, repairing, and installing high-end barbecues. “The grills I work on range in price from $1000 to $15,000.” (Below that, he notes, the $200–$300 cleaning fee doesn’t really make financial sense.) “Lynx is one of my favorite brands. They’re really well made, parts are readily available, and their service department is on point.”
Methey begins by taking the grill “completely apart. First, I take off the hood and remove the cooking grids. I even take the burners apart. Then I degrease and clean from top to bottom. The cooking grids are usually the worst, but it really depends on how long it’s been since the grill was cleaned. I soak the internal parts in a tank of hot water, and 99 percent of the time, hot water and elbow grease are all I need for the rest of the grill. But if it’s really bad, I’ll use a mild degreaser. My tools are razor blades, steel wool, and special grill bricks. I even made some custom tools of my own. The only thing I can’t get off is rust.”
The advantages of a clean grill are not merely cosmetic, he says. “Number one, it’s good to get all the carcinogens off of your grill. People think you can just burn it off, and it does make food debris all ashy. But the ash just falls below the cooking surface, and you’re still cooking that into your food. And people don’t like to hear this, but it helps with rodent control. Rodents love barbecues. At least half of the barbecues I work on have rodent droppings where the burners are, and/or nests, and/or actual rodents inside. People are cooking rodent droppings along with their food. And, lastly, if you clean your grill on a yearly basis, it will last much longer — two to three times as long.”
In between cleanings, he recommends keeping the grids clean by “shutting the barbecue off as soon as your food is done. Then, when you go to cook again, turn the grill on high and let it heat for five to ten minutes. Then take your grill brush and clean the grids. Leaving grease on the grids between uses helps protect them from rust. Also, keep the top closed, and if possible, keep a cover on the grill.”
Repairs run $85 an hour, plus parts. “Usually, an igniter doesn’t work or there’s trouble getting good gas flow. I also remove old grills and install new ones for $200. That means I install it, test it, and put a polish on it. If you’ve already got a grill island, I can do modifications as needed for $85 an hour, or a consultation for $50.”
Jim Gordon, owner of West Coast BBQ Grill Repair and Service (619-328-5590), also prefers to work on higher-end grills. “We mainly work on brands like Lynx, Firematic, DCS, Twin Eagle, Al Fresco, and Weber. When we clean, we like to take off the hood. The briquettes are usually ceramic and can be cleaned with water and a brush. I don’t use any chemicals on them, because they would come off when you started up the flame. Sometimes, the cooking grids are set at a weird angle, and you can’t clean them with a straight stroke of a tool. In that case, I’ll use a briquette to clean the grid.” Cleaning runs $185 to $275.
When it comes to repairs, “igniters wear out, and spark modules go out. Those parts take a beating. Sometimes briquettes get old and crumbly, so we replace those. We also do varmint protection. If the grill is in an island, I use a little bit of rabbit wire in spaces around the grill, and I’ll even plug holes with stainless steel wool.” Repairs run $85 an hour. Gordon also does grill installation and haul-away, and he recycles old grills and patio heaters (call for quote).
“When I’m contacted about grill cleaning, I ask about brand, control knobs, and size of unit,” says All About Fire (855-397-7877) owner George Brown Jr. “Then I can give a good price-range estimate for cleaning. Most range from $225 to $300. We also offer repairs [$85 an hour] and gas hookup. We do natural gas-line hookups as well as bolt propane, where the grill is hooked up to a large propane tank on the property.”