Gas Grill Not Getting Hot Enough (Fixing a Grill That Won't Heat Up to 300° F)

December 15, 2023
Written by Kristy J. Norton

It's very annoying when your gas grill which is supposed to fire up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit suddenly stops at 200 to 300 degrees. I've had this problem with my Weber and Char Broil grills, and it's a total buzzkill. Usually, the culprit behind this is either the regulator, burner, gas leak, or some gas tube blockage.

Now, before you think about tossing that barbecue to the curb or shelling out for a repairman, let's explore some solutions. In this article, I'm going to list all the reasons why your gas grill has suddenly gone cold. Then I'll tell you what to do in each case. 

gas grill not getting hot

How to Fix a Grill that Only Heats Up to 200-300 Degrees?

Here are the common causes and solutions for when your gas grill burns too slowly than it normally does or should.

Are You Sure You Have Gas?

If your propane or natural gas grill is not hot enough as it normally does, it might be running on air. If you still have gas putting out low flame, it may be running low. Let's do a quick check to see if your propane tank's got some gas left in the tank (literally).

Here's the scoop:

  • Get a cup of hot water (not boiling water)
  • Pour that hot water along the side of the propane tank.
  • A condensation line may appear at the current gas level. 
  • If that doesn't help, wait a few seconds. Then place your hand on the side of the propane tank from top to bottom. Feel for the temperature change.

The part of the tank where there's propane will absorb the heat and feel cooler compared to the empty part which will feel warmer to the touch

So, if only the bottom feels cool, you've got roughly a quarter tank of gas left. But if it's all warmed up, or there's no temperature shift at all, your propane tank might be dry. Time to get that propane tank refilled!

Cookout on Small Propane Grill

It Might Be Your Temperature Gauge!

If your grill isn't heating up as expected, don't doubt your BBQ skills just yet—check the temperature gauge. This gauge acts as the grill's thermostat, but it can sometimes mislead you. It measures the grill's temperature, but its placement near the top, exposed to cooler outside air, can cause inaccuracies, especially with old-school dials.

As a result, the gauge may read about 50-75 degrees cooler than the actual cooking zone temperature. So, before assuming your grill is malfunctioning, be aware that the temperature gauge might be leading you astray. 

How to Fix This? 

First things first, you'll want to make sure your grill isn't really playing tricks on you. Here's how I typically tackle the problem:

  • Test the gauge: Grab yourself a good meat thermometer. Stick it right next to your grill's thermometer and fire up the heat. Let them both hang out for a bit and see if they're singing the same tune. If your grill's gauge is way off, you'll know it's time for a fix.
  • Calibration: If your grill's gauge is the culprit, you might be able to calibrate it. Check your grill's manual or do a quick online search for instructions specific to your propane gas grill model. Usually, there's a little screw or nut you can adjust to get things back on track.
  • Upgrade time: If calibration doesn't cut it or your gauge is just plain ancient, it might be time for an upgrade. Consider swapping out that old dial gauge for a shiny new digital one like the TempPro H29. They're more accurate and don't get fooled by the outside air.

It Could Also Be Due to Gas Leaks 

If you've got propane gas sneaking out where it shouldn't, that's trouble. This time around, the least you should be worried about is the weak gas flame – safety first. 

Move away from the gas grill and the gas cylinder immediately. Turn the grill's burners and the gas supply to the off position at the propane cylinder valve. Don't light anything. And, definitely, don't use your cell phone near the area. The electromagnetic radiation from it can give off enough energy needed to ignite the gas vapor. 

Check for Gas Leaks

Worried about gas leaks in your grill? Of course, the best gas-detecting tool is your nose. So, check whether you can smell gas. Apart from this, I've got a simple DIY test that's as easy as pie. Here's the lowdown:

  • Try a soapy solution: Mix up a solution of liquid dish soap and water, 1 part soap to 1 part water. Shake it to get a good soapy brew.
  • Soap it up: Start applying your soapy solution to the propane tank valve, hose, regulator, and any other valve connections you can find.
  • Turn on the gas tank valve: Slowly turn on that gas tank valve. Don't go full throttle; just crack it open a bit.
  • Bubble watch: Now, here's the fun part. Keep a keen eye out for any soapy bubbles. If they start forming on the propane tank, gas valve, or gas hose, that's a sign of a gas leak.
Grilling Organic Fresh Vegetables on an Outdoor Gas Grill

If you spot bubbles, that's a leakage sign. If you're feeling handy, swap out the gas hose for a fresh one. You can call 911 if it's a serious situation. Optionally, you can call your propane gas supplier or a qualified technician to assess and fix the issue.

Bypass Mode

Since the '90s, propane grills have been rocking a safety feature called the 'bypass mode.' So, what's this bypass mode all about? Well, it's Uncle Sam's way of keeping things safer. This safety device located in the regulator hose limits the flow of gas by around 10% to prevent overstuffing or throwing gas into a gas grill with issues. 

Now, here's the problem – this safety feature can sometimes get a little trigger-happy. Yep, sometimes it can act like the smoke alarm that goes off when you're just making a toast. 

How to Fix a Grill Bypassing Gas?

If you'd like to fix it and get your grill to heat properly, no worries. You'd need to equalize the pressure between the gas grill and the propane tank. Here's how you can go about that:

  • Gas flow break-up: First, open your grill and disconnect that gas line from your grill.
  • Turn the control knobs high: Turn all those knobs on your grill up for a minute – no worries, nothing's burning here, no gas involved.
  • Turn down the control knobs: Now shut down those control knobs completely. No gas, no flames, just peace and quiet.
  • Reconnect the gas: Reconnect your gas grill's regulator, which is the flow limiting device, to your propane tank. Start the gas flow back up nice and slow.
  • Light it up: Now, fire up your gas grill as you normally will.

Clogged Gas Grill's Burners

As you use your gas grill, bits of grease and dirt accumulate inside the burners. This inhibits the flow of gas or results in poor heating efficiency. It's easier to tell when your gas grill burners are clogged. One side is burning hot, and the other sides are on strike.

When your grill burners start acting like they're on strike, it can put a damper on your BBQ dreams. Here's how to check things out:

  • Check the burner tube: Make sure that the tube from your burner is sitting pretty on top of the gas valve. Of course, do this while everything's turned off for safety.
  • Brush it off: Grab a bottle brush or venturi brush to give those tubes a good scrub-down. 
  • Check the burner holes: Check if those little port holes on the burners are blocked by a layer of debris, grease, or gunk. A simple brush or a needle can clear blocked holes. 
Grilling Small Potatoes with Slices of Garlic on the Gas Grill

Check the Grill's Regulator!

If your gas grill is not getting hot enough, the regulator might be the problem. A happy grill needs a happy regulator. If that regulator isn't pulling as much gas as it should, you won't get those steady flames you crave for a top-notch BBQ.

How can you tell if your regulator is not doing its work? Look out for these classic red flags:

  • Noisy start or finish: Your gas grill starts popping like it's trying to dance when you turn it on or off. If it roars like a jet engine taking off, that's a sign something's amiss.
  • Sad, weak flames: A bad regulator can also cause your burners to give off orange or yellow flames. 
  • Soot City: If your burners are covered in heavy soot, that's another hint.
  • Flame escape: Flames floating atop the burner ports? Nope, that's not the way a gas grill works; a bad regulator might be the problem.

So, if you spot any of these telltale signs, your regulator might be the culprit. Time to give it a good check or call in the pros.

How to Fix a Bad Regulator? 

If you suspect the grill's regulator is the problem, don't worry – here's how to fix it.

  • Safety first: Turn off the propane gas supply completely. We don't want any surprises while we work on this.
  • Disconnect and inspect: Take a good look at that regulator. Make sure it's properly connected to both the gas cylinder and the grill. Sometimes, it's just a loose connection causing the fuss.
  • Nozzle check: Check the nozzle on the regulator for any obstructions or debris. Clear it out if needed. It's like giving your regulator a little nose job.
  • Reset the safety valve: Some regulators have a safety feature that can trip if you open the propane tank valve too fast. To reset it, turn off the tank valve, disconnect everything, then slowly open the tank valve and reconnect. Slow and steady wins the grill race.
  • Leak test: Safety first, again! Perform a gas leak test using the soapy water method we talked about earlier. Make sure there are no sneaky leaks.
  • Replace the regulator: If your regulator still won't cooperate, it might be time for a replacement. Pick up a new one that's compatible with your grill, and follow the manufacturer's instructions for installation.
  • Pro Help: If all else fails, or you're not comfortable tinkering with gas-related stuff, it's time to call in a pro. They'll get your propane gas grill roaring like a champ again.
Gas Cylinder Connected to BBQ Grill

Conclusion

There you have it, folks! Grilling is all about good times and great food. But it's essential to stay safe and savvy when dealing with gas grills. If you ever feel your gas grill is not getting enough gas or the burners are not bringing up flames as they should, now you know what to do. Check for clogged burners, empty propane tanks, the temp gauge, and the regulator, and keep your nose peeled for propane smell. If you feel you can't handle this all alone, call in the pros – your gas utility or 911. 

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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