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Why Does My Gas Grill Smoke So Much? Top 8 Causes (+ Fixes)

Gas grills are typically much easier to use than charcoal grills, but they’re not without fault. Improper cleaning, chemical usage, and many other issues can damage the grill. If your grill seems smokier than usual, there’s likely a number of issues afoot.

Your gas grill smokes so much because of these reasons:

  • Leftover grease
  • Lighter fluid usage
  • Excess cleaning chemicals
  • Lack of airflow
  • Burnt components
  • Poor-quality fuel
  • Food scraps
  • Bad flame control

Throughout today’s article, we’ll show you all of the details regarding why your gas grill is smoking so much. We’ll also provide you with a handful of helpful tools and suggestions to prevent it from continuing.

Excess Grease Buildup

According to The Spruce Eats, too much grease leftover in the grill is often the primary cause of smokiness. Your gas grill shouldn’t smoke as much as a charcoal grill because the flame is clean. A grease-covered grill burns the grime, filling the chamber with smoke and sending it all over the food you grill.

This grease is often caused by drippings from fatty foods and oils. You’re more likely to encounter smokey grease issues if you cook a lot of meat, but using a lot of cooking oil on anything can contribute to the problem. The problem worsens, and the smoke gets thicker if you wait too long to fix the issue.

How to Fix

To clean the grease from your gas grill, follow these tips:

  • Use the WeeTiee Grill Brush and Scraper. This tool has a double-sided head that removes deep-set grease, grime, food debris, and more. Furthermore, you can use it with any grill cleaning chemicals. The rounded brush ensures none of the bristles drop into the grill, too.
  • After the grill cools down, use a few paper towels to wipe out as much grease as possible. This step prevents the grease from getting too sticky to remove, limiting the smokiness the next time you use the grill.
  • Remove the grill grates and soak them in dish soap and water, scrubbing them until they’re clean. A monthly or bi-monthly cleaning will keep the grates in good condition by removing the grease. Make sure you dry them quickly to prevent rust, though.

Using Lighter Fluid on a Gas Grill

Lighter fluid isn’t the best choice for most modern grills. They’re often designed to create a steady flame without assistance, especially gas-powered setups. A gas grill has all of the fuel it needs, yet some people use lighter fluid to spark a big flame. This mistake is dangerous and can ruin the grill and food.

Instead of using lighter fluid, you can simply turn up the flame’s size. If your grill doesn’t provide a flame as big as it used to, it’s time to open it up and inspect the heating assembly.

Much like the grease mentioned above, lighter fluid leaves grime behind that can cause unwanted fires and smokiness.

How to Fix

Simply put, don’t use lighter fluid in a gas grill. It might be tempting to increase the flame’s size, but you’ll damage almost everything inside of the grill. Lighter fluid is great for charcoal grills, but it can wreak havoc on a gas setup. All you have to do is turn up the gas input to make the flame bigger.

If you used lighter fluid and need to clean it, follow this process:

  1. Turn off the gas.
  2. Let the grill cool down.
  3. Remove the grates and soak them in dish soap and water, then dry them off immediately.
  4. Wipe the inside of the grill with a paper towel to remove as much of the lighter fluid as possible.
  5. Leave the grill open until it dries out.

Improper Cleaning Chemicals

It’s important to clean your grill regularly. Not only does it keep your grill looking good, but it also prevents food scraps and grease from smoking the grill. However, Own the Grill mentions some harsh cleaning chemicals can cause toxic smoke. You don’t need to use such additives to remove tough stains and grime.

So, why do some chemicals cause a gas grill to smoke?

  • Leftover chemical residue burns at a similar rate to grease.
  • Chemical sprays can get trapped in the burner, igniting when you turn on the grill.
  • Some chemicals rust and corrode the metal in your grill, leading to long-term smoke and damage.
  • Many cleaning chemicals have negative interactions with gas flames and can cause toxic smoke.

How to Fix

Try the Goo Gone Grill and Grate Cleaner Spray. This kit comes with two bottles from a trusted brand that removes grease, food debris, oil, and more. All you have to do is remove the grates, spray them with the solution, and scrub them with an abrasive sponge or the brush mentioned above.

If you used harsh chemicals that cause the grill to smoke, perform this procedure:

  1. Turn off the grill and let it cool off.
  2. Remove the grate and scrub it with the Goo Gone Spray.
  3. Use the Goo Gone Spray throughout the grill’s interior, scrubbing it and wiping the leftover grime with a paper towel to remove the harsh chemicals.

Note: We strongly advise against using any cleaners that aren’t specially designed for grills. Many all-purpose cleaners leave a toxic residue that causes smoke and coats the food in the grill.

Not Enough Airflow

Gas grills often have many sources of airflow. The most common source is a side or top vent. These vents have multiple holes or a sliding lid to decide how much air goes through the grill. WIthout optimal airflow, the grill will get extremely hot and smokey.

A damaged grill light will prevent the gas from getting enough oxygen, too. If the fuel doesn’t mix with oxygen when it’s sparked, the flame can look dull and smokey.

The final reason the airflow can be limited is if you have too much food in the grill. Excessive amounts of food blocks the vents and limits airflow.

How to Fix

Here’s a list of ways to improve your gas grill’s ventilation to reduce the smoke:

  • Open the side or top vents on your gas grill to find the optimal amount of ventilation. If the vents are too far open, the grill won’t light, or the flame will flicker. If the vents are too narrow, the flame will be small and could whither away or smoke.
  • Consider grilling with the lid open for low-heat foods or low-sitting flames. Extra airflow is welcome on hot days that increase the grill’s internal temperature. It can prevent overcooked food, overheated parts, and smokiness.
  • Evenly space your food and ensure the vents are clean to prevent ventilation blockages. Separately the food can make a big difference since it helps the excess heat escape through the side or top of the grill. It also allows oxygen from the vents to reach the flame.

Burnt Internal Components

Whether there’s an electrical shortage, burnt heating element, or seared paint inside of the grill, many burnt parts can cause smokiness. There should never be smoke coming from the grill, especially from under the heating element. These issues are all signs of burning internal components, which can cause hazardous fires.

Locating the smoke’s source will help you determine what needs to be replaced. In some cases, you might have to clean a part or two to remove grease drippings that fell through the cracks. If a component is seared or wires are stripped, the only solution is to replace them.

How to Fix

If something is burned inside of a gas grill, it typically needs to be replaced. Burn marks on electrical wires are a severe sign of danger. They can spark and cause fires.

To replace the wires in a gas grill, use the wire gauge recommended by the manufacturer. Detach the old, broken wires and replace them with the new set. Keep in mind that many brands suggest getting new components or shipping them to the company for repairs since DIY electrical repairs can void the warranty.

The notable acceptions that don’t need to be replaced include the following:

  • Burners (they always have burn marks)
  • Grates (they’re exposed to an open flame)
  • Heat plates (they’re right over the fire)
  • Carryover tubes (they get hot from moving the flame to nearby burners

Low-Quality Fuel

As with all types of grills, the fuel source is crucial to a gas grill’s performance. If you use low-budget gas, you can expect a low-quality flame. This common issue often results in smoke since there’s not a good fuel-to-oxygen ratio. Upgrading your fuel can be the difference between a clean, healthy flame and a dull, smokey fire.

Keep in mind that top-notch fuel can downgrade. Many types of fuel lose their effectiveness if they’re stored in hot, dry environments. It’s best to store your gas in a shed or garage that doesn’t get too much direct sunlight. Some fuels coagulate, ruining the potency and preventing it from producing a reliable, bright flame.

How to Fix

Perhaps the best way to fix this common issue is to use high-end fuel. Propane typically doesn’t expire, but poor storage can cause it to leak or deteriorate.

We suggest these storage tips to prevent low-quality fuel from smoking your gas grill:

  • Keep the gas in a temperature-controlled room, including your garage or shed.
  • Consider adding a hygrometer to prevent humidity from rusting the fuel tanks.
  • Monitor and replace the fuel connection hoses as needed.
  • Choose high-end fuel because it lasts longer, performs better, and produces less smoke.

Leftover Food Scraps

If you don’t clean your grill and remove the food scraps, they’ll get smokie. Leftover food debris dries inside of the gas grill, creating an immediate fuel source for the next time you spark a flame. It’s the same process that causes an oven or stove to produce smoke. This issue is much more common with small foods that can slip through the grill grates.

How to Fix

Miss Vickie recommends cleaning the grill to remove food scraps between grilling sessions. Wait until the grill cools down to prevent cleaning chemicals and tools from sticking to the surface or melting. While you don’t have to perform a deep cleaning every time you use the grill, scrubbing it with a wire bristle or brush is an excellent idea.

Don’t forget to scrub the drip trays. Many gas grills include trays to catch food debris and grease. These trays should be cleaned often to prevent the scraps from smoking when you grill. If your drip tray gets too dirty, it’ll corrode, and you’ll need a new set.

Uneven Flame Control

If a gas grill’s flame uses too much or too little gas or oxygen, the flame will produce smoke. You might notice this issue after a heavy rainstorm or after not using the grill for several months. It also occurs when the grill is getting old and rusty. Using a grill cover can make a significant difference to prevent an uneven, smokey flame.

Not all flame control issues are associated with poor fuel and oxygen, though. Sometimes, it relies on the user to ensure there’s a spark before the knob is turned. If you turn the ignition knob too quickly, it’ll send too much gas through the line without a spark. The next time you spark the flame, there will be a massive burst of fire and smoke.

How to Fix

After you’ve cleaned the debris from your gas grill and ensured there’s enough gas in the tank, it’s time to check the hoses. A leaky gas hose will prevent enough fuel from reaching the flame. This process can cause a low flame or smoke.


Too much water in the fuel line and grill can cause it to smoke, too. We suggest using a grill cover, such as the Grillman Premium Grill Cover. This 64-inch cover is water-resistant, which prevents rust, corrosion, and fuel dilution issues. It’s also UV-resistant, which stops the grill’s paint from fading or discoloring. You’ll also enjoy the security straps that withstand the wind

Author

  • Steve Rajeckas

    Steve Rajeckas is an HVAC hobbyist with an avid interest in learning innovative ways to keep rooms, buildings, and everything else at the optimal temperature. When he's not working on new posts for Temperature Master, he can be found reading books or exploring the outdoors.