Home » Can I Keep A BBQ Uncovered: Store Your Grill The Right Way

Can I Keep A BBQ Uncovered: Store Your Grill The Right Way

Barbecuing is a classic summer pastime and many people fire up their barbecue just about every day when the weather is nice. But is it ok to leave your grill outside and uncovered between uses? What about when it is raining or during the winter?

Keeping a BBQ grill uncovered is generally not advised. While some grills are weather-resistant, none are truly invulnerable to damage from moisture or harsh sun light. Grills with sensitive electrical components are especially prone to damaged by rain. Leaving barbecue grills uncovered for a long time can lead to extensive corrosion or sun related weathering.

A properly covered BBQ can last a lifetime. Pre-winter storage maintenance is also a must to keep your grill in top condition. The rest of this article will explain in detail how to do just that.

Is it okay to leave a grill in the rain

Some traditional charcoal or gas grills will be able to survive being left in the rain once or twice. But even these are best kept out in the weather. Grill grates, fasteners and other metal parts will rust over time.

Even if the cover of the grill remains in tip-top condition, the legs of the grill may corrode and lead to a shaky grilling experience. Handles and grill grates are also very sensitive to rust. Corrosion left unchecked spreads like rot in wood, causing some serious damage. Gas grills are more susceptible to damage from rain than charcoal grills since they have more parts that lack rust resistant coatings.

Grills with built in electronics fare even worse in the rain. If just one of their sensitive components gets wet in the rain or if excessive moisture stays trapped under the cover, it may prevent it from working right. These components are often difficult and costly to replace and it is far better to prevent the damage in the first place. Electric grills should never be left outside without a cover.

In addition to rust, mildew and mold can grow on your grill if it stays wet for a long time. This will give your grill a nasty odor that must be cleaned off thoroughly (it is a pain to clean) before you can cook food on your grill again.

How to protect your grill from weather

There are numerous ways to help protect your grill from the weather. Using grill covers is the most obvious and cost effective of these options. A good grill cover will protect your grill from the vast majority of weather related damage. Although, extreme humidity underneath can sometimes still be an issue. Make sure to keep your grill cover in good condition and patch any holes to ensure it continues to protect your grill from rain and snow.

A tarp that is tied down around the legs of your grill can also provide similar level of protection as a grill cover. Plus, a good tarp is going to be cheaper if you need a quick solution to protect your investment.

Other ways to cover your grill can also be effective, especially in conjunction with a grill cover or tarp. Things like a patio cover, awning, or even a barbecue canopy (otherwise known as a grill gazebo) can provide even more protection from rain, sun, or snow. Using just a patio roof as your grill’s only protection is not the best because rain and snow blown by the wind can still cause issues.

Water is no the only cause of damage to your grill. Excessive sunlight beating down on your grill can wreak havoc as well. Too much sunshine fades the protective coating on most non-stainless grills, which leaves them even more susceptible to corrosion. Sunlight also quickly ruins grill covers, rendering them useless after a year or two. Therefore, try to keep your grill shaded from direct sun.

Winterize your grill

It is also a good idea to winterize your grill in preparation for the colder months of the year. This generally involves scraping away burnt residue off the grill grates and using a degreaser to clean all the surfaces. Next, vacuum out excess charcoal bits or food from the bottom of your grill. Then clean out the grease pan, checking the igniters of the grill and finally, give the outside of your grill a good wipe down.

Once your grill is clean, there are a few extra steps to make sure your grill can last the winter. The steps are as follows:

  • Shut off the gas and disconnect the propane tank from the grill.
  • Coat the burners and grill grates with cooking oil so they don’t corrode during the winter.
  • Wrap the burners (as well as the fuel lines and propane tank nozzle if you are keeping the grill inside) with foil to seal them off from insects that might try to nest in them and any dust that may clog the small fuel ports.
  • You can store the grill with the propane tank connected if you are keeping it outside. Make sure to cover it with a grill cover or a big tarp. Don’t ever store propane tanks inside any structure of any kind, as this is a safety hazard.

What do you do if your grill gets wet

If the outside of your grill gets wet once in awhile, it is not a big deal. Make sure to check that no water seeped inside, then wipe down the outside and let it air out so it doesn’t rust.

It is a little trickier if the inside of your grill gets wet. If you have an electric pellet grill, you’ll want to disconnect it from the power source.

At this point, the next step is to take apart the grill by removing the grill covers and any other easily removed parts. Next, lay out the parts someplace to thoroughly dry. The final step is to make sure the heating elements are dry, at which point you can put the grill back together. To ensure that every bit of moisture is eliminated, fire-up the grill for about 5 minutes on high with the cover closed.

Finally, turn off the gas, let your grill cool, then apply a coating of cooking oil to rust prone components. After you are done, put on a grill cover and store it out of the weather if possible.

Should you store your grill indoors in the winter

Moving your grill inside during winter is the best way to keep snow off it. Storing it in a garage or shed also prevent animals from making your grill their new winter escape. If mice or rats have already made your grill into their private buffet and nesting site, then you’ll definitely need to check out my guide to keeping pests out of your grill.

However, make sure to never store your propane tanks inside. Gas leaks or ruptures could become disastrous. Disconnect the propane tank from any grill that is stored indoors. Instead, store your propane tank outside in a place protected from moisture. They should also be kept on a flat, sturdy surface.

How long does it take for a gas grill to rust without a cover

How long it takes for a gas grill to rust without a cover depends on a few different factors. If you live in an extremely dry area like the desert and it goes for months without rain, your grill may never rust. Even without a cover (although, sunlight will do some damage).

If you live somewhere humid where it rains a lot, your grill could begin to rust in as little as two to four days. Especially, if it doesn’t have a good coating or if it has non-stainless fasteners or parts. The metal on a grill can rust out completely in as little as 6-9 months if the rust is left untreated. I have seen many grills destroyed by rust. Yet, it is so easy to avoid if you do a little maintenance.

In addition, some grills are made of different materials with a differing percentage of carbon or other alloys. Plain iron will rust faster, while some other metals will last much longer before rusting out.

Finally, the kind of coating that your grill has on it can also help prevent rust. Powder coatings and paint can help to prevent the outside of your grill from rusting. If moisture gets on the inside of a grill, it’s a different story. The constant heating and cooling cycle from normal use accelerates corrosion. Not only will it ruin a grill, it’s not safe to eat food cooked on rusty metal. It is much more difficult to remove rust on the interior of your grill so stay diligent with prevention.

Final thoughts

Grilling is an activity that can be enjoyed year-round in some cases (winter grilling is pretty fun). Maintaining your grill properly can keep it in good condition for decades. You don’t have to let a little rain damper your fun if you wipe down the grill afterward or keep it covered. With just a simple cover, your grill could last many seasons. After all, what would summer be without a barbecue?