Why do Stainless Steel BBQ Grill Parts Rust

stainless steel infrared grill parts are east to clean

by grillrepair on December 3, 2009

Stainless Steel BBQ Grill Maintenance to Avoid Rusted Grill Parts.

Why do stainless steel grill parts rust? This is another question we get asked all the time and there are almost as many answers as there are gas BBQ grills. I meet customers who purchase a stainless steel barbecue grill with a lifetime guarantee because they no longer want to buy a new grill every two years. They feel tricked a year alter when the barbeque grill parts are pitting and rusting. There are a lot of answers to this question but most of them are simple and sometimes obvious.

<!–more–>One reason is the quality of the grill parts. We know restaurants and resorts cannot waste time buying a new grill for their kitchen every few years so we assume if we purchase commercial quality items we can get the same level of quality as professionals. Now any cheap, low cost manufacturer can call their product a commercial series or a professional series item and the association is made. Add a few hundred dollars profit to the price and the customer gets tricked. I have seen this in many industries when the terms “commercial” and “professional” get used as the name of a product model rather than a true description of the quality of the product.

Many of these manufacturers will use a low grade stainless steel to further the association with commercial quality. Many of us do not realize there are many different types of stainless steel. Stainless steel mistakenly becomes symbolic of high quality and long lasting parts. Often a customer will tell me they want a stainless steel grill as though they are describing the barbeque they want to purchase. In their mind, they have asked for a particular level of quality using the term “stainless steel”. Many homeowners associate stainless steel with high quality. Many stainless steel types are only fit for indoor use.

dcs stainless gas grill parts

dcs stainless gas grill parts

Look at who makes the grill – not the importer but the actual manufacturer. American manufacturers will document the type of materials used but be cautious of the importer claiming to be a manufacturer. If the manufacturer is providing a warranty, call them and see if a human answers or if the warranty is a sham. When we purchase an American Made stainless steel BBQ grill, we spend a lot more money and have much higher expectations of the product. Contact local dealers and find out if local professionals who repair grills recommend the product.

Commercial products do not say “commercial” on them and restaurants or resorts do not buy their appliances at the gigantic retail exchanges that advertise the lowest price in town. I have clients who purchase a $300. grill and feel they have spent a lot of money. Pay attention to the type of stainless steel used by the manufacturer. Keep the grill covered and clean it as often as possible.

gas grill parts are easier to clean after a burn-off

gas grill parts are easier to clean after a burn-off

High quality barbecues will be manufactured by a stainless steel designated as 304. 304 stainless steel is often referred to as 18/8 stainless because of the main chemical additives that make it resilient outdoors. In order to be considered 304 stainless steel not only are iron oxides drained to such a degree that a magnet cannot hold it but nickel and chromium are added during the smelting process in amounts of 8% nickel and 18% chromium.

Chemicals added to stainless steel protect the material in its specific application. Indoor products that do not contend with weather need a different and less resilient stainless than your outdoor grill parts. Outdoor gas barbeque grills use 18 gauge 304 stainless steel because of the nickel and chromium. Nickel is a hardening agent. Nickel is shiny and attractive but its main benefit is as a hardener. When stainless begins to rust it shows up as “pits”. When oxidation begins a small rust spot will appear at the weakest parts of the stainless as a pit. As a hardening agent, nickel will usually stop this from starting.

Chromium protects the surface of the stainless steel in the same way that oil protects a cast iron pot. Chromium reacts with oxygen in the atmosphere and creates a barrier at the surface of the stainless steel. If the stainless surface ever becomes damaged or scratched the surface can be lightly sanded and the chromium will recreate the barrier. Chromium is added during the smelting process so scratching-out rust does not remove the protective effects of chromium.

Mid-range barbeque grills like Weber and Broil King use combinations in manufacturing. Much of the stainless is decorative but generally the burners, cooking grates and heat shields will be better quality. This is because the inside of the grill gets wiped down less and gets a whole lot messier than the hood.

For the very expensive grill that has a lifetime guarantee against rust, the reason your grill is rusting is grease. I have seen DCS grills over twenty years old without a single pit on the outside of the barbeque but the burners have been replaced six times. On the rare occasion a customer claims the hood is rusting, it is usually not rust but a light discoloration caused by heat. When the grill shows rust, it is the burners, heat shields, rod trays, cooking grates, etc. The grill parts inside the firebox get grease and drippings and carbon discoloration from heat. All of these things combine to coat the stainless and stop the chromium from reacting with oxygen in the atmosphere.

Every year I remove the burners, cooking grids and shields from my marbeque. I clean – really clean – the inside of the firebox and I clean the parts I have removed. I use a stainless steel brush on the end of a drill and a razor blade. It does a great job and the stainless looks great until I cook on it again.

This stainless grill might have the most disgusting grill parts I have seen

This stainless grill might have the most disgusting grill parts I have seen

For barbeques that use less-expensive stainless steel, know it is decorative. They know the decoration allows the assumption regarding quality to be made but no one who sells grills will point this out. Either accept that you will have to buy a new BBQ grill every two years or start buying replacement grill parts. If good quality stainless is not in the budget, shop the American made grills that use aluminum castings as these will outlast even high quality stainless grills. Pure aluminum will last forever.

Often, the best tool to fix a problem is education. Once we understand a problem, the solution will show up in our normal actions. Once you know the chromium needs oxygen to protect your stainless steel your regular post-grilling habits may change. Hopefully, once you know chromium needs oxygen to protect your grill, degreasing the stainless will become standard cleaning practice.

Another point to remember is your barbecue grills placement in relation to your pool. Pool chemicals can cause the grill to corrode if in direct contact with high quality stainless steel. However, the stainless steel can also be damaged just by closeness to the pool or stored pool chemicals. Pool chemicals merge with oxygen in the air. Near the pool, a shortage of oxygen atoms can cause the same effect as covering the stainless steel with grease. Chromium becomes unable to react with the oxygen in the air.

If you have a well-built stainless steel gas grill, cook on it often because of you’re going to spend the money use it. Also the heat lessens mess. After cooking, burn the grill on high or ten to twelve minutes to dry it out and then scrape the stainless. Once or twice a year, take it apart or call a professional. A properly maintained gas grill should last forever.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

MrBarns February 2, 2010 at 6:22 am

what a great site and informative posts, I will add a backlink and bookmark your site. Keep up the good work!

grillrepair January 5, 2010 at 10:07 am

we are on twitter at: grill_parts

Thank You.

krolikoboroten December 25, 2009 at 10:37 pm

I want to quote your post in my blog. It can?
And you et an account on Twitter?

Previous post:

Next post: