Gas grills are a popular backyard product for year-round grilling use. They are easy to start and warm up quickly to help you get your food cooking in no time. Most people who enjoy grilling have one even if they prefer charcoal simply due to this convenience.
However, you do need to have the basic knowledge of propane use since these grills are fueled by this clear, flammable gas. The safety of propane use must also be kept in mind, and if your grill isn’t working as it should, you might have a gas regulator issue. This article explains how to recognize regulator issues, and provides a simple, step-by-step guide to replace it.
Propane is a highly flammable gas and before loosening or removing any hose and regulator combination should only be done after you have completely turned your LP tank off. You also need to pay close attention to your flame and possible gas leakage when troubleshooting prior to replacement.
What is a Propane Tank Regulator?
A regulator does exactly what it is named: it regulates the propane gas flow to the grill. It is the metal piece located upon the hose near the LP tank connection. It helps keep leaks from occurring and controls the amount of flow the grill receives so you can have equal heating. It also has a small hole for venting and atmospheric equalization.
Troubleshooting Your Propane Hose and Regulator
You should inspect your propane hose and hose connections on a regular basis to ensure no dry rot, cracks, pinching, or other issues due to weather and use have occurred. Generally, check things over each time you need to fill your propane tank, or at least once a year.
Many times you may not notice that you have a regulator issue until you struggle to bring your grill up to temperature, or find your food isn’t cooking as quickly as it should. This can indicate an issue with the amount of propane you are getting through the systems.
What to Look For:
The first indicator I had that I might have a bad regulator was a low grill temperature. I then noticed my flames were very low even when set on high, so I figured I needed to reset the regulator. Resetting a propane regulator is common if you had outdoor temperature changes, or if a burner is on before you turn on the propane.
But the next day I had the same issue occurring which wasn’t solved when I reset the regulator again. I also noticed a low whistling sound and when I checked my LP tank fitting, propane was coming through the regulator vent. Some people may tell you to squirt some WD-40 in the hole or bang the regulator against a hard surface to release the inner workings- but if propane is escaping through ANYTHING on the regulator or hose, it is time to replace it as there is damage and you run the risk of a fire if not addressed.
- Low heat equals a low flame. If your burners are on but the flames don’t change when you turn the burners up, you have a bad regulator.
- If your flames are uneven from one burner to the other, and nothing is plugging or blocking the burner, you have a bad regulator.
- If you have inconsistent warm-up times or cooking times from one grill use to the next, you may have a failing regulator.
- You hear a hissing, or whistling sound from the regulator, which is escaping gas due to inner failings.
- You can feel propane escaping from the venting hole (if you hear or feel this, be sure to turn your burners off IMMEDIATELY if they are on).
- If the burners struggle to light, or won’t light and there isn’t a problem with the striker mechanism, your regulator may be going bad.
Why Does a Regulator Fail?
When you let your grill sit without use over time, you can get small insects or spiders to make their home inside the regulator. This can create a blockage. Usually, this can be blown out with an air hose.
The inner workings of a regulator can also get stuck due to moisture, rust, and simply old age. If stuck open you may have inconsistent flames. If stuck closed, you may have a weak flame, or even leaking from the venting hole- which can be dangerous.
The bottom line is that if you have any doubts and feel your grill isn’t working as it should, then replace this part to be safe.
What You Need
Obviously, what you need is a new regulator, but a few more tools will be needed to help remove the old one and secure the new one.
New Propane Grill Regulator
Not all regulators are the same since they may have various hose lengths and connection sizes. Be sure to measure the length of your current part and the size of the connections before finalizing a new purchase. However, the majority of grills do take a 23-inch, universal replacement product that is easy to find at local hardware stores, as well as online.
Two Pliers or Wrenches
You will need to avoid pulling or yanking on the connections, so be sure to use pliers that adjust to fit over your fittings or the proper size wrench to allow for a snug, slip-free fit.
Leather Gloves and Safety Glasses
It doesn’t hurt to wear gloves or safety glasses when climbing up under products, tightening and loosening fittings, or troubleshooting propane issues.
Before you get started be sure to keep your propane tank in the closed position. You should be in the habit of turning your LP tank off after each use; always double-check in case you forgot during your troubleshooting or don’t usually do it.
Step 1: Remove the Old Hose and Regulator
Be sure to unscrew the old regulator from the tank and then using two wrenches or pliers, firmly unscrew the top. Be sure not to force the fitting or pull on the connection as you don’t want to damage the burner connections.
Step 2: Tighten the New Part Back On
Once you have the old regulator and hose removed, fasten the new one back on. Start with the burner connector fitting and ensure you have it tightly secured. Once that is done, attach the hose back to the LP tank.
Step 3: Check Your Flame Control
Once everything is back in place, turn your tank back on and check to see the flame control in your grill. You should once again have total control of flame strength and be able to get back to cooking.
Obviously this is a simple fix, but an incredibly important one. Many people are completely unaware that their propane grill regulator can fail, and are not in the habit of paying too close attention to it.
Luckily, in my experience, I was paying attention to the irregularities of my grill, but I hate to think of what might have happened if I had not noticed the low flame or bent down to examine what issues might be causing it. Making sure to inspect your hose and regulator, keeping your propane off when not in use, and ensuring your burners are working correctly each time you use the grill are ways to quickly deduce if a problem exists or not.
If you have any questions, please let us know below. And, as always, please share!