How To Tell If You Need To Replace Your Charcoal Grill

For many people, warmer weather calls for barbecues. Summer is almost synonymous with grills, maybe even more than outdoor recreation in or near the water. When we think of summer, our minds automatically go to food — from burgers and hot dogs to shrimp skewers, steaks, and grilled veggies. These dishes have become a staple for many summer dinner plans where we enjoy a tasty meal and for a moment escape the seasonal temperatures.

As we prepare for outdoor events and possibly at-home gatherings in this new year, it's likely that in the chaos of 2020, perhaps the last thing on our minds was grilling outdoors. As a result, there's a good chance many of us have neglected the main component we need to bring this all together: the grill. And not just any grill, but a charcoal grill. As you prepare to heat things up, you might have taken a good long look at your present grill and wondered if it's up to the tasks ahead. And maybe its condition has you wondering if you should think about a replacement. If so, here's how to know you need a new charcoal grill.

The first step is to check and see if it's falling apart. If so, that is your first clue, according to San Diego BBQ. While grills can last anywhere from 5-15 years, that time span depends entirely on the care and maintenance of the grill — rust, dents, and scratches can lead to your grill simply falling apart.

The truth is in the grill

For charcoal grills, the firebox is a crucial component, as this is where the fuel source burns. Fireboxes are made to be durable, but when they're exposed to extreme temperatures for years they can develop holes and cracks that call for immediate replacement (via San Diego BBQ). It's not uncommon for a grill to live outdoors year-round, so weather's wear and tear has a significant impact as well. 

For those of you with cart-style BBQs, check the legs. Are they corroded? If so, it's time to retire your grill. Same goes for built-in grills that are beginning to sag, as this can be more hazardous than you imagine — the grill can collapse and lead to serious injuries. During your grill inspection, if you spot a ton of grease buildup, it's likely your grill might be too far gone to save, since grease can eat away at steel, causing irreparable damage. Worse, as Breakaway Barbecue Grills points out, grease buildup is a distinct fire hazard.

Fully-functioning air vents are also crucial to successful charcoal grilling, says Breakaway. If your vents are inoperable, it's time to move on. Instead of worrying about how to fix your grill, it's best to toss it and opt for a new model.