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Barbecue using propane or natural gas

Barbecue season is finally here! To avoid any incident, we better learn more about using this great apparatus. Safety guidelines, propane cylinders use, barbecue maintenance and emergency measures: leave nothing aside in order to enjoy your grilling to the fullest!

The 3 safety guidelines to follow

Safety advice

Your barbecue is assembled according to the instructions manual? You read the lighting procedure? Then it’s time to learn about the 3 safety advice to follow in order to avoid unpleasant surprises. You can also watch the video opposite for a summary. 

1. Perform a leak test

To avoid gas leaks, you must perform a leak test as soon as you connect a propane cylinder to your appliance or to the natural gas valve fixed to the building. All it takes is a few seconds and a little bit of soapy water.

By clicking on the video, you will change the context of this page.

French only. Video summarizing the 3 safety advice. Made with the Institut de protection contre les incendies du Québec and the humourist Neev.

Smells like rotten eggs or boiled cabbage?

The line that connects the barbecue to the propane cylinder or to the natural gas valve fixed to the building might not be leak-proof. Be careful!

Beware: Do not smoke, do not use flames to detect leaks, and extinguish all flames or ignition sources. 

  1. Turn all gas controls to the OFF position.
  2. Open the valve of the propane cylinder or the natural gas valve fixed to the building, then apply a solution of water and dishwashing liquid on the gas supply line and its couplings.
  3. If you see small bubbles building up, or if it smells like rotten eggs or boiled cabbage, this indicates a gas leak.
  4. If you have detected a leak, retighten up the couplings, or replace any defective part. In case of need, call upon a specialist. Be sure to read the instructions for your propane cylinders.

2. Position your barbecue in a safe location

Safe location

  • Outdoors
  • Well-ventilated area
  • Flat surface to prevent the barbecue from tipping over
  • Away from foot traffic (e.g. children playing)

Unsafe location

  • Enclosed area: trailer, garage, veranda, shed, gazebo
  • Near electrical wire
  • Near walls, windows, patio doors, trees and shrubs (to avoid fire risks)
  • Unattended area

If you use your barbecue in enclosed areas, you risk carbon monoxide poisoning; this gas is colourless and odourless and can be fatal.

Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions to learn about the clearance to maintain between your appliance and any combustible material.

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3. Fire up and turn off the barbecue safely

Steps to light up your barbecue

  1. Open the cover of your barbecue. This way, any accumulated gas will escape.
  2. Do make sure that the gas controls are set to the closed (OFF) position.
  3. Slowly open the gas valve of the cylinder or the natural gas valve fixed to the building, fully.
  4. Light a spark, using the igniter which is integrated to the appliance, or introduce a long nozzle lighter inside the lighting port, located if present at the bottom of the vat, next to the burner you wish to ignite. If your barbecue does not feature such a firing orifice, use a long struck match close to the burner to fire it.
  5. Slowly open one of the gas controls (ON or HI position). Do not stand over the barbecue while doing so.

Once lit, never let your barbecue unattended, do not move it and do not let anyone play nearby to avoid burns.

Steps to turn off your barbecue

  1. Turn OFF the gas valve of the propane cylinder or the natural gas valve fixed to the building, so that the gas which remains inside the line can be burned off completely.
  2. Once the flame is out, turn the gas controls to the closed (OFF) position.

Can’t light the burner the first time?

Turn the gas controls to the closed (OFF) position and let the appliance ventilate itself thoroughly by following the instructions in this regard from the user manual before making any new firing attempt. Do not exceed the critical firing delay that is indicated in the instructions from the user manual.

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Emergency measures

Even though propane and natural gas barbecues are basically very safe appliances, neglectful acts or omissions can cause accidents. In such a case, please follow these safety measures:

  1. Leave the premises immediately.
  2. Call your fire department.
  3. Do not try to put the flames out, unless you are able to safely shut off the propane cylinder valve or the natural gas valve fixed to the building.

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Barbecue maintenance

Filling up, storing and transporting cylinders

To learn how to prepare, store and transport your propane cylinders safely, refer to the page entitled Propane cylinders

Even though your propane or natural gas barbecue is designed to withstand all weather conditions, it will nevertheless require a minimum of yearly maintenance. Do read the maintenance instructions printed inside the user manual, and observe the following tips:

The burner: Inspect the condition of the burner. If it is in good condition, clean it delicately with a steel wire brush recommended by the manufacturer. The colour of the flame produced by the combustion of propane gas should be of an unaltered blue. If the flame is constantly yellow or bright, it is probably an indication of a poorly adjusted or dirty burner.

If you notice that it is punctured in a number of places (other than the burner holes), call upon any specialized barbecue centre or your barbecue salesman to have your burner verified and replaced.

Chamber: Clean the inside of the chamber with an oven cleaner, or a barbecue degreaser, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If you wish to give back some lustre to the outside of your appliance’s chamber, use a paint designed for high temperatures.

Gas controls, line and couplings: To check if your propane or natural gas installation is leak-free, turn the controls to the closed (OFF) position, and make sure that the couplings are tight.

Volcanic rock briquettes: A single layer of briquettes is sufficient to give maximum cooking efficiency. Therefore, do not overload the bottom grill with briquettes; make sure that you see the flame of the burner here and there.

Grills: It is recommended after each use to wash the grills according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  

Cylinders: Do not use any cylinder that is defective or of more than 10 years old. Hand them instead to your propane retailer for safe disposal. You should never discard a propane cylinder to waste. A cylinder might feel empty while still containing enough gas to explode.

Be it summer or winter, a propane cylinder should always be stored outdoors, its valve in the closed position and be out of the reach of children.

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