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Sara Hansen

How To Store A Grill Or Smoker Properly For The Winter

In many parts of the country, winter is in full swing and there are already several feet of snow on the ground. But, you may not be one to brave the elements and cook in the cold weather. Or, after this past year, you may be looking to do some traveling soon. 

Either way, this means that you need to store your smoker or grill and keep it protected. After all, chances are you’ve spent some good money on your cooker and you don’t want it to get ruined by the elements.

So, if you are wondering how you store a grill for the winter (or even for long periods between cooks), we’ve put together the top things you need to know. Let’s take a look:


Moisture Is The Biggest Enemy

Moisture is a smoker or grill’s number one enemy when being stored for any length of time. Rust and corrosion can quickly build up and ruin your cooker if you don’t take measures to keep it protected.

So, your number one goal when it comes to storing your smoker or grill is to keep it dry both inside and out. (We’ll get into some specific ways to do that below.)

Keep in mind, stainless steel will resist rust better than other metals/compounds but isn’t 100% resistant


Cleaning The Cooker Is Imperative

Cleaning the smoker or grill is the most important first step for any type of cooker that will be stored away. It’s actually a good habit to get into between cooks even if you aren’t going to be storing your cooker away for a while.

When it comes to cleaning it before storing, there are some critical things to do:

  • Remove Ash - You want to remove any old ash from the smoker or grill to help eliminate corrosion from the carbon. This is where a shop-vac can come in handy to get it all out.

  • Clean Grease Off - Make sure to scrub and clean any residual grease or leftover food remnants off of every part of the cooker. This includes the grates, grease pan/box, burners, and upper enclosure. Grease can attract unwanted insects and rodents while your cooker is stored away.

  • Deep clean - If this is the only time you do a thorough deep cleaning of your cooker this year, this is the time to do it.

Check out our blog post on how to properly clean your grill or smoker for more detailed information.


Oil Offers Great Protection


how to winterize a grill with oil | how to protect your grill | how to store a grillSource: Saber Grills

Cooking oil, like canola oil, is great at helping to repel any moisture that could build up in your smoker or grill. Use the oil to coat the grill grates, burners, and other metal parts to help prevent any rust or corrosion issues from moisture while your cooker is being stored. 


Keep Your Cooker Protected From The Elements

This might be obvious, but ideally, the best place to store your smoker or grill is under a covered patio or in a garage. As mentioned above, the moisture from rain or snow can wreak havoc on your cooker’s sensitive metal parts, quickly causing rust and corrosion.

Direct sunlight can also have adverse effects on your cooker if it is not protected. The UV rays can quickly deteriorate the exterior finish or paint, leaving your smoker or grill’s metal more susceptible to moisture.

Storing your smoker or grill inside a garage is fine but keep in mind that when you are cooking, it should always be done outside in a well-ventilated area. 


Invest In A Good Cover

If you have invested in a smoker or grill, one of the best ways to protect it when it’s not being used is with a good quality cover. This is especially true if it is not possible to store your cooker under a covered area. 

The hardy material of a quality cover will hold up for a long time and keep moisture out, protect from direct sunlight exposure, and help keep unwanted pests out. Avoid skimping out on protection by buying a cheap cover that will just end up tearing quickly.

Many of the top brands of cookers also make covers that are available for your specific model. Or, if you’ve spent the money on a custom smoker or grill, it’s a very smart investment to have a custom cover made as well. 

If you don’t have an area to keep your smoker or grill sheltered and are expecting a good amount of snow, securing an additional tarp on it over the fitted cover is very helpful as well. This provides another layer of protection from moisture.


Tips Specifically For Pellet Grills/Smokers


how to store a pellet grill | how to store pellets for a grill | how to winterize a smokerSource: Green Mountain Grills


As with any type of grill or smoker, it is important to take the necessary steps to protect your pellet grill. Because of the way these grills operate, especially with the electronically operated components, it is even more important to keep them protected from the elements and the fuel source (pellets) properly stored. 

Here are a few things to keep in mind, specifically for a pellet grill, when it comes to storage:

  • Unplug the grill - It’s easy to forget, especially if you are storing it near the outlet you usually use, but you always want to unplug the pellet gill when you are not using it. Leaving it plugged in can fry the onboard electronics and cause some expensive problems.

  • Remove unused pellets from the grill - Make sure to remove any unused pellets out of the hopper and auger. If left in when storing, the pellets can attract moisture or even cause mold growth, ruining the hopper. Damp pellets can also clog the auger.

  • Store pellets properly - Knowing how to store pellets is also very important. You should not store your pellet supply in the original bag. A sealed, airtight container, like a bucket with a lid, is the best place to store them to keep them dry, protected, and ready to go for your next cook. (This applies to any type of weather environments)


Tips Specifically For Propane Smokers/Grills


how to store a propane grill | how to store a grill | how to winterize a grill


Just like with pellet grills, there are some specific things to keep in mind when you want to store a propane smoker or grill properly. These include:

  • Turn off or disconnect propane - If you are storing your cooker outside under a cover, you can leave the propane tank connected and under the cover. Just make sure it is fully turned off and the valve is closed. If you are storing it inside, disconnect the propane tank, make sure the valve is closed, and store the propane tank outside. 

         *You always want to store propane tanks outside to avoid any chance of a dangerous gas leak in an enclosed space. 

  • Cover the hose - If you are going to disconnect the propane tank, make sure to cover your grill’s regulator hose/gas line opening with plastic. You also want to cover the propane tank’s nozzle. This will prevent any small insects or critters from getting inside these openings and nesting while it’s being stored away.
  • Protect the burners - You also want to wrap the burner units with plastic for the same reason and keep them protected from unwanted guests.

  • Prevent battery corrosion - If your propane grill has one, it’s also a good idea to disconnect the ignition battery from your electric starter to prevent battery corrosion while it isn’t being used.


Make Your Cooker Last By Knowing How To Store A Grill The Right Way

Of course, every grill is different, but prepping your smoker or grill for storage is not an overly difficult task. As you can see, the more TLC you give your cooker when you go to store it away the longer it will last. By following the tips above and knowing how to winterize a smoker or grill, you can help keep your cooker protected and ensure it keeps performing optimally for you.

Your cooker will be all ready to go when you are ready to start cooking some delicious barbecue.

Have you recently prepped your cooker to be stored for the winter? Are you getting ready to winterize your grill? Let us know below. We want to hear from you!

Also, make sure to check out our YouTube channel for the latest tips, insider info, and BBQ news. “Subscribe” to our channel to see all the latest from BBQ Champs Academy!

Sara Hansen

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