Burn_Through_in_Stainless_Steel_Burners by MonikaKam


Burn Through in Stainless Steel Burn

Word Count:

A couple of months ago, I noticed t
hat the grill was heating unevenly.
 The left side was noticeably hotte
r than the right. The flame was hig
her on the left, and I had more pro
blems with flare-up on that side. M
eanwhile, the right side was not co
oking very well at all. Has this e
very happened to you?
gas grill grills burner burners bur
n-thru burn through flare ups flame

Article Body:
I grill.

I mean, I grill _ often. I grill ab
out 3 or 4 days a week, every week
of the year, every year. Living 100
 yards from Lake Erie, this is no s
mall feat: it gets cold in Clevelan
d in the winter, and we get our fai
r share of snow _ most of which is
lake effect, sometimes measured in
feet rather than inches.

I have often found myself outside a
fter dark on a late December evenin
g, in 20-degree weather with an icy
 wind blowing in off the lake, snow
 half-way up my shins, basting a ro
ast on the rotisserie.

Naturally, my wife thinks I am nuts
. She also thinks I am a great cook
, which is neither here nor there.
But, I digress&

A couple of months ago, I noticed t
hat the grill was heating unevenly.
 The left side was noticeably hotte
r than the right. The flame was hig
her on the left, and I had more pro
blems with flare-up on that side. M
eanwhile, the right side was not co
oking very well at all. The grill i
s a 3-year-old Fiesta that my wife
bought at K-Mart shortly before we
met. It sports a stainless steel sh
eet metal burner which is adequate
for occasional use. I suspected tha
t the burner was burned through sin
ce I use the grill much more than t
he manufacturer intended; I wanted
to replace it much earlier than thi
s, but since we were buying a house
, I placed the project on the back
burner, so to speak.

The house threw us a couple of majo
r curve balls, the worst of which w
as a total replacement of our kitch
en. At the time, we were waiting on
 our new counter tops: we did not h
ave a working kitchen; the microwav
e and the grill were our only worki
ng kitchen appliances. Nice time fo
r the grill to fail, huh?

One night during the remodel, I wan
ted to grill some chicken. I fired
up the grill, and noticed that the
flame on the left side of the grill
 reached the cooking grate, and the
 flame on the right was barely noti
ceable. Our chicken browned noticea
bly toward the left side, and barel
y cooked on the right. The photos o
n our site show the old burner.

I muddled my way through the meal,
deciding to take action. The next d
ay I ordered a new burner/venturi s
et over the Internet. Since spiders
 love our new house, I splurged on
spider guards. The only tools I nee
ded for the job were a pair of plie
rs and a screwdriver. I assembled t
he burner/venturi assembly, connect
ed the ignitor to the burner, and w
ent out to the grill. I disconnecte
d the securing pins for the burner
underneath the grill and the old bu
rner lifted out easily. The new bur
ner settled gently into place, and
I connected the ignitor and install
ed the spider screens. I tested the
 ignitor, and, satisfied that it wo
rked properly, fired up the grill.
Even blue flame, about one and a ha
lf inches high, with yellow tips. P
erfect. Nice, even heat again. Proj
ect completed, and in about a half-hour.

So why did this happen? Why did my
burner rot from the inside out? The
 answer is simple physics. When you
r burner burns gas, the flame outsi
de the burner creates a vacuum insi
de the burner. An open valve allows
 gas under high pressure to flow fr
om its source into the burner, wher
e the pressure is lower, and then c
ontinue out to the outside to be bu

So how does this cause burn-through
? Remember the flame that is suckin
g the gas out of the burner? Now sh
ut that gas off. What happens? The
gas is still burning. When there is
 no more fuel, the vacuum inside th
e burner actually sucks whatever is
 right outside the burner, resultin
g in an audible _pop_ when the flam
e goes out.

Here it is in a nutshell: you_ve be
en cooking food, right? You_ve been
 using spices, sauces and rubs -- a
nd the food itself has its own juic
es. These are in the air surroundin
g the food and the burners, mostly
as partially-burned carbon particle
s. These carbon particles get sucke
d into the burner when the flame is
 extinguished. These particles rema
in in the burner until the next tim
e you fire up the grill. When you f
ire up the grill, these particles c
reate chaos in the flow of the gas.
 The pressure of the gas will hold
these particles against the sides o
f the burner. Reaching ignition tem
perature, they eventually burn thro
ugh the metal from the inside out.
Now you know why I had to replace m
y burner _ and why you_ll have to d
o the same if you purchase a grill
with a sheet metal burner.

My story points out another issue:
what type of burner will your new g
rill have? This is a major decision
 that many overlook when they purch
ase a high-end grill. Most grills,
even well-known $3,000 to $5,000 un
its, have the same stainless steel
sheet metal burners that I just rep
laced, and many have a thickness in
 the 20- to 24-gauge range! Let_s f
ace it: buying a $3,000 grill is li
ke buying a Mercedes or a Lexus; yo
u shouldn_t have to replace the eng
ine in a 3-year-old Lexus!

If you purchase a grill with a stai
nless steel sheet metal (or cast ir
on/cast iron composite) burner, you
 will replace the burners at some p
oint. The more often you grill, the
 more often you will replace the bu
rner. The more expensive the grill,
 the more difficult the replacement.
"What?" you say! Stainless steel wi
ll rust? Well, yes, it *will* rust.
  It just takes a lot longer. The id
ea that stainless steel will neithe
r stain or rust is a myth. The "sta
inless" in the term "stainless stee
l" refers to the fact that there ar
e no impurities in the metal itself
, and that nickel has been introduc
ed into the alloy to produce a more
  acceptable finish. A lower grade o
f stainless steel with a lower nick
el content will attract a magnet, a
lso contrary to popular myth.

What, then, is the alternative to a
 stainless steel sheet metal burner
? Cast iron? Well, yes, but many gr
ill manufacturers also use cast bra
ss or cast stainless steel, which w
ill not rust or burn through. Lynx
and Fire Magic are two such grills,
 and they_re even warranted against
 rust and burn-through. A less-expe
nsive alternative with cast brass b
urners would be the Coleman 6000, r
etailing for under $1,000 (photo ri

This is not to disparage stainless
steel sheet metal burners: Napoleon
 uses 16-gauge stainless steel in t
heir burners, much thicker than jus
t about any other brand, and they t
end to last longer than other manuf
acturer_s burners. They are still p
rone to rot and burn-through, howev
er: it just takes a little longer,
that_s all.

So, if you_re shopping for a new gr
ill, check the burner construction

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