Even the most reliable gas grills can be prone to regulator issues. If you know how to identify and solve these problems in advance, you’ll be a lot better off. That’s what prompted us to put together this ultimate guide to gas grill regulator problems.
About Gas Grill Regulators
First of all, you might be wondering: What is the regulator, and why is it needed? This component is responsible for delivering the correct amount of gas to the designated burners. When it’s working, the fuel supply is steady and controlled. If not, the result could range from disappointing to downright dangerous.
The regulator is disc-shaped, with two basic elements. One end hooks up to the grill itself, while the other one is connected to the propane tank.
There are two basic regulator types: single- and double-hosed. Single-hosed regulators are the most prevalent, so there’s a good chance that this is the one your grill is equipped with.
However, if the grill has a side burner, it will have a double-hosed regulator. These can be distinguished by the Y shape of the hose, with two separate pieces that flow out of the regulator before joining together at a certain point down the line.
A grill that has more than three burners also requires a high-flow regulator. That’s because single regulators are only equipped to handle up to 60,000 BTUs. If your unit is any larger than that, there’s a good chance that the regulator is dual-hosed.
Does every faulty regulator need to be replaced immediately? Not necessarily. Read on to find out about the most common gas grill regulator problems—and what steps you should take to correct them.
How Gas Grills Work
When you light a gas grill, the fuel passes through the regulator that’s attached to the tank, then through the gas line itself. When it enters the segment of the regulator that’s attached to the grill, the pressure should adjust itself accordingly.
Next, the gas passes through a manifold, which divides the fuel between the lit burners. Then it gets filtered through the control valve station, at which point the flow rate is adjusted depending on how high you’ve set the burners. At this stage, it goes through the venturi tubes, where it mixes with oxygen for the ignition stage.
Once the gas ignites, it travels into the burners and through the ports, where you can see the flames appear. Most grills will be equipped with a barrier that’s designed to distribute the heat and protect the burners, thereby reducing the risk of flare-ups.
Signs of Trouble
If the burners aren’t providing enough heat when they’re set to higher temperatures, first inspect them to make sure that there aren’t any holes that could be causing the problem. If there are no holes, then the regulator is likely to blame.
The flames on a working gas grill should be evenly distributed, with no empty spots on the lit burners. The flames should be mostly blue in color, with yellow-orange tips. Most importantly, the grill should reach the set temperature within 10 to 15 minutes.
Similarly, if you turn all the burners to the same temperature, but only one of them is lighting properly, the problem might not be with the burner itself. Again, first inspect the burner tubes to rule that out as the cause. The same rule applies if the burners seem to be working, but are taking longer than usual to achieve the desired temperature.
Common Gas Grill Regulator Problems
The bypass valve is one of the most regulator’s most vital components. When it gets stuck, the gas can’t reach the burners, thereby resulting in one of the heating issues described above.
The valve consists of a small piece of plastic, housed inside the regulator. If there’s no back pressure in the hose, the bypass valve will automatically cut off the gas supply.
The loss of pressure might be caused by a gas leak (see below), but there are other causes as well. For example, the valve can be tripped if you turn the gas tank on while one of the burners is still set to the “On” position.
If this is the case, switch off the tank and all the burners, then turn on the tank and wait a few minutes. Turn one of the burners back on and try to light it. If it fires up on the first try, you’ve resolved the issue.
Often, the regulator will fail due to a gas leak. If you suspect a leak, shut the valve down and take the regulator and hose off the tank immediately.
Sometimes this issue arises because a pet has been chewing on the hose. To circumvent the problem, try to position the grill so that the regulator is out of harm’s way. If you don’t have pets, then it could have been caused by squirrels or other pests. In either case, you’ll need to replace the affected part.
Because the leak could be situated in either the hose or the regulator, you should attempt to locate the damaged area before buying a replacement.
To determine the location of the leak, fill a basin with soapy water. Dunk the regulator into the solution, then reattach it to the gas tank. Make sure the burners are in the “OFF” position, then turn on the valve.
Inspect the hose and regulator closely. If any bubbles appear, then you’ve found the problem. Make sure to invest in a high-quality part to replace the one you’ve lost.
If the issue isn’t with the bypass valve and there is no visible leak, then the regulator will need to be replaced before you use your grill again.
Unfortunately, the component doesn’t have individual parts that can be repaired. The good news? Replacement regulators are readily available. You might be able to find one that’s specific to your grill through the company website. If not, look for a universal model at a home improvement outlet or garden supply store.
Regulators are also prone to sticking, which can prevent the fuel from traveling through the proper channels.
If your regulator appears to be stuck, turn the control valves and tank valve to the “OFF” position before applying a bit of liquid lubricant to the threads. Let the regulator sit for about an hour to allow the lubricant to set in, then gently attempt to loosen it.
Remember to always attach and detach the regulator by hand. If you use a wrench, you can damage the regulator before you’ve even had a chance to use the grill. Excessive force might even damage the gas tank itself.
Sometimes, the issue isn’t with the regulator at all, but with one of the other grill components. The following list is made up of frequently occurring “red flags” that can signify a problem with the gas line, the burners, or some other feature.
When the flames are bright yellow or orange in color, it could mean that the valves or venturi tubes have become blocked. The fix could be as simple as realigning the parts, or there might be a foreign object that’s causing the obstruction.
First of all, take a moment to find the venturi tube adjustment screw, which will release the shutters. Ignite the grill and turn the burners to low, then carefully loosen the screw.
Next, open the shutters slowly and wait for the flames to turn blue. At this point, you should be able to make out any bare spots. Switch off the gas and tighten the screw, then let the grill cool before attempting to clean the burner. Alternately, you can turn the offending burner to “HIGH” for about 15 minutes and hope that does the trick.
Let’s say you’ve replaced the regulator, but you’re still having trouble with uneven heating. In this case, the problem is most likely due to a blocked burner.
If you inspect the burners on a gas grill closely, you’ll see a row of holes along the sides. These are the burner ports, and the gas has to flow freely through each one in order to produce a reliable flame. If they get clogged by drippings, then your burners won’t heat evenly.
Wait until the grill has had a chance to cool down, then use a stiff wire brush to scrub off any grease buildup. For extreme cases, you might have to remove the burner itself. Some grills will allow you to do this easily, but others will have the burners bolted in place. Do the most thorough job you can, taking care to remove as much debris as possible.
Note: Don’t use any harsh chemicals (such as oven cleaner) on the burners. They can corrode the metal and decrease the overall lifespan of the grill. This will void any manufacturer’s warranty that might still be in place.
Failure to Ignite
When the grill just won’t light, the solution will largely depend upon what type of igniter it has. If each burner is controlled independently and none of them are lighting, then the problem is probably due to faulty wiring. The button may also have failed. In these cases, the offending part will need to be replaced.
In the same vein, if the burners have independent ignition and only one of them will light, the igniter may be clogged. Take the grilling grates off and remove the barriers so you can inspect the burners.
Push the button and watch the affected burner for sparks (you should also hear a clicking sound). Then clean out the igniter and attempt to light the burner again. Follow these same instructions if your grill comes with a single igniter and none of the burners will light.
If you’ve cleaned out the igniters and the grill still isn’t lighting, then faulty wiring is the likeliest cause.
When a gas grill produces a great deal of smoke, it’s because the burners or cooking grids have too much grease buildup. Give the unit a thorough cleaning, then turn the burners to high for 15 minutes to burn off any excess residue.
Flames Behind The Control Panel
Flames leaping up from under the grill are a sign of blocked or improperly fitted venturi tubes. When the grill is cool enough to handle, check the parts and correct any errors. While you’re at it, take a look at the fuel lines and hoses to make sure they haven’t burned through.
Once you’ve identified the problem with your gas grill regulator, you’ll be able to take the appropriate steps to get your outdoor kitchen up and running once again.