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Expert advice on how to identify and resolve hot spots on a gas grill to achieve even heating for more consistent grilling results.

Chances are if you’ve been grilling for a while, you’ve encountered annoying hot spots on a gas grill. You lay all of your food out across your grill surface, only to find some pieces of food burning to a crisp before others have come up to a safe temperature.

The culprit behind these annoying hot spots, places on your grill where the flames are burning a little hotter than the rest, isn’t a sign that your grill is malfunctioning and destined for the scrap yard. Far from it!

Most times, hot spots are an easy issue to fix with a little bit of DIY tinkering and cleaning. 

Even if you haven’t had the chance to figure out what’s causing the hot spots on your gas grill, don’t let them spoil your grilling plans. You can turn these hotter areas to your benefit while cooking!

In this guide, we’ll teach you how to identify hot spots, troubleshoot, and fix the root cause, or learn to live with them if needed.

The steps in this guide are perfect for any level of grill owner, even if you’ve never done any maintenance on your grill beyond cleaning (and you are doing that, right?). 

Without further ado, let’s get going!

Key Takeaways

  • Uneven Gas Flow and Grill Design Influence Hot Spots: Factors like uneven gas flow due to clogged or damaged burners, grease buildup, or the inherent design of your grill can lead to the development of hot spots, affecting cooking uniformity. The good news is, these are easily fixed.

  • Know Your Grill’s Hot Spots: Using techniques like the bread test can help you identify hot spots, allowing you to manage and use them to your advantage when cooking.

  • Adjust Cooking Strategies: Employing methods such as rotating food and utilizing a two-zone cooking approach can mitigate the effects of hot spots for more consistent grilling results.

What Are Hot Spots on a Gas Grill?

Hot spots on a gas grill are areas that heat up significantly more than others, causing uneven cooking temperatures across the grilling surface. These can result in food being cooked unevenly, with some parts overcooked or even burnt, while others remain undercooked.

Hot spots can occur on all gas grills, whether they’re brand new, have never been used before, or have been a trusty part of your cooking arsenal for years.

The difference between evenly grilled food and an overdone mess is learning to manage hot spots correctly.

What Causes Gas Grill Hot Spots and How to Fix It

Grease Buildup | Blocked Burners | Misaligned Burner Tubes | Corroded or Damaged Burners | The Air Shutters Need Adjusting | Flare-Ups | Grill Design or Simple Wear and Tear

There are a few different issues that can cause hot spots on a grill.

Gas grill hot spots are typically caused by poor grill design, a buildup of grease and debris, uneven gas flow, or just plain old wear and tear.

Below we’ll cover all possible gas grill hot spot culprits and the fixes for each.

Grease Buildup

Let’s start with the easiest culprit to fix. Like many gas grill issues, grease buildup can also be to blame for hot spots.

It’s only natural to have a preferred side or spot that you use more often when grilling. These spots tend to accumulate more grease over time. As that grease heats up, it can flare up and push the temperature of your grill higher than you want it in some areas.

How to Fix Grease Buildup

To fix grease buildup on your gas grill, first know that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. You should be spot-cleaning your grill after every use to prevent this buildup from happening in the first place.

But if, despite your best efforts, you have grease buildup, you’ll want to give your grill a deep cleaning.

To do this, disassemble the grill to remove the burners, grates, grease tray, and cook box. Soak them in a mixture of dish soap and warm water or a specialized grill cleaner to loosen up the grease, then scrape it off with a wire-free grill brush or scraper.

Do the same to the interior and exterior of the grill – scrape off debris where possible and follow up with a mix of water and dish soap on a sponge or rag.

Be sure to avoid using harsh, non-food-safe cleaners like Clorox, as these can damage your grill and make them unsuitable for cooking.

Once you’ve scraped and scrubbed all of the grease off your grill and its parts, wipe them down with a rag soaked in clean water. Give the interior of your grill one final sweep (or even a pass with a shop vac) to get rid of any lingering debris, and reassemble.

Check out this guide for more deep cleaning tips: How to Clean a Gas Grill – Tips to Revitalize Your BBQ

Blocked Burners

One of the most common causes of hot spots on a gas grill is blocked burners.

When burners are blocked, they don’t produce as much flame as they normally should — and sometimes don’t produce any flames at all.

Thankfully, this is an incredibly common problem and one that’s easy to fix!

How to Fix Blocked Burners

To fix blocked burners on your gas grill, grab some gloves, a grill brush, a putty knife or scraper, a specialty brush, a bottle brush, or pipe cleaner, and a small paperclip, toothpick, or drill bit.

Make sure your grill is off, and disconnect the gas tank or natural gas line. Remove your grill grates and anything else that’s blocking access to your burners, like burner covers or ceramic briquette trays.

Once you have access to the burners, inspect them for any surface debris and remove them using your scraper or putty knife. Gently brush the burners with your grill brush, being careful not further to block any of the gas ports with debris.

Now, take a look at the holes in the burner tubes and look for clogs — these could be from grease, food debris, or even insect nests. Using your small brush, pipe cleaner, or a specialized cleaning brush, gently clear out each hole in the burner tube.

If the clog is proving harder to dislodge, grab your paperclip or drill bit and gently poke it out. Be extra careful here, as you don’t want to damage or expand the size of the burner holes.

Run your bottle brush or burner cleaning brush through the burner to push out any remaining dirt and debris, then give it a gentle shake to dislodge any stubborn bits.

Wipe your burners down with a damp cloth, take one more look for signs of damage or debris, then reinstall them and you should be good to go!

For more tips on cleaning out clogged burner tubes, check out our guides: The Complete Guide on How to Clean Gas Grill Burners and Burner Blockage? You May Have a Spider in Your Gas Grill

Misaligned Burner Tubes

If you’re still experiencing hot spots after cleaning your burners, the issue may be with the burner tubes themselves.

If your burner tubes aren’t properly aligned with the gas valves, it can create temperature distribution issues and hot spots.

I just recently had this problem with my Blaze Professional Portable Propane Gas Grill. This is what I did to fix it.

How to Fix Misaligned Burner Tubes

To fix misaligned tubes, shut off your gas, and remove the grill grates and heat plates, to access the burner tubes easily.

Take a look to make sure that the burner tube is correctly aligned. Burner tubes should be seated properly in the gas valve nozzle. If it’s not, you’ll need to realign it so the gas valve is within the burner opening.

Consult your grill’s user manual for proper instructions on how to loosen the tube. This typically involves removing a few screws with a screwdriver or pulling out a pin.

Then gently adjust the tube so it is correctly aligned with the gas valve nozzle. It should fit snugly without any gaps.

Reassemble your grill, turn the gas back on, and fire it back up — if misaligned burner tubes were your problem, this should solve it!

Corroded or Damaged Burners

Hot spots can also be caused by corroded or damaged burners, as the damage disrupts the flow of gas into the burners. Starting to notice a theme here? The burners on a gas grill play an important role in delivering the flames evenly across the grilling surface.

Thankfully, this is an incredibly easy issue to troubleshoot – just remove the cooking grates and heat plates from your grill and give the burners a thorough visual inspection.

How to Replace a Corroded or Damaged Burner

If you do see signs of rust, corrosion, or damage on your grill’s burners, then it’s time to replace them.

If you’ve never replaced your grill’s burners before, it’s a fairly straightforward process!

After you’ve consulted your user’s manual and purchased the correct burners for your grill, you’re ready to get started.

First, make sure your propane tank or natural gas line is shut off and disconnected. Remove the grill grates and heat plates to expose the burners underneath, and set them aside. If your grill has ceramic briquette trays or lava rocks, you’ll remove those as well.

Next, remove the burners. How exactly you’ll do this will vary depending on your model of the grill, but typically it requires removing a few screws with a screwdriver or pulling out a pin.

Once the burners are removed, take the opportunity to give your burner box a thorough cleaning.

Take your new burners and line up the air intake, slip them onto the gas nozzle, and make sure they’re positioned correctly within the burner box. Secure them with those screws or pins that you removed at the beginning of the process.

Reassemble your grill with your heat plates, briquettes, and grates, then turn the gas back on to make sure your new burners are working correctly.

The Air Shutters Need Adjusting

Occasionally, the flow of gas into your grill is the culprit behind hot spots. The right ratio of air to gas is essential to creating even heat distribution — without that, you’ll end up with sputtering, discolored flames, and hot spots.

This is another issue with a relatively easy fix — this incorrect mix of gas and air is usually due to malfunctioning air shutters, which you can easily adjust on your own.

How to Adjust Gas Grill Air Shutters

Before you try to adjust your gas grill’s air shutters, give the grill a nice clean. Sometimes, a bit of grease and grime is what’s causing the air shutters not to do their jobs.

If you’ve cleaned your grill and still suspect your air shutters are to blame, you can adjust them.

First, shut off your grill’s gas and remove the burner.

At the base of the burner, you’ll typically find a way to adjust the airflow. Many times there will be a screw that holds the adjuster to the burner — if that’s the case on your grill, loosen that screw and turn the air adjustment to allow more or less airflow.

Place the burner back on the grill and start it up. If the burner you adjusted produces blue flames with yellow tips, you know you’ve achieved the right mix of gas and air. You may have to repeat the process a few times to get the right mix.

Shut your grill off, let it cool down, and remove your burner once more. Tighten the screw on the air adjuster to hold it in place on the correct setting you’ve identified.

Repeat this process until all of your burners produce blue flames with yellow tips.

Some grills allow you to reach the air shutter without removing the burners. If this is the case, light your grill and remove the front control panel so you can see the valves and manifold.

Loosen the screw on the air adjuster, and slide the metal sleeve until you see those ideal blue flames. Repeat this process on all of your grill’s burners until the flames are perfect, then tighten the screws back up and replace the front control panel.

Flare-Ups

Of course, flare-ups — those unexpected bursts of flame caused by dripping sauce or fat — can also cause your grill to have hot spots.

Flare-ups aren’t an uncommon issue, but thankfully, they are one you can control with a bit of know-how.

How to Manage Flare-Ups

To manage flare-ups on your gas grill, you can move your food to a cooler part of the grill or a warming rack to make sure the fat can’t drip down onto the direct heat.

You can also close your grill’s lid and air vents to cut off the oxygen that’s supplying the flare-up and turn off the burners if your flare-ups are getting larger or more frequent.

Whatever you do, don’t spray any flare-ups with water. Since flare-ups are small grease fires, water, and other liquids will make them much larger and much, much worse.

For more tips on managing flare-ups on your gas grill, check out our guide: Avoiding the Flame Game – How to Prevent Flare-ups on Gas Grills

Grill Design or Simple Wear and Tear

Some grills have design elements that naturally produce areas of concentrated heat. This is where you want to use those hot and cooler spots to your advantage by adjusting your cooking techniques.

Finally, over time, grills may develop hot spots due to old age. Wear or damage to components like burners or deflectors may be the culprit and may be a sign that a new grill should be in your future.

A Simple Way to Identify Hot Spots on Your Grill

So how can you identify hot spots on your grill, other than tossing on your food and getting frustrated by inconsistent cook times?

The easiest way to find your grill’s hot spots without sacrificing the actual food you plan on cooking is with sliced bread!

Preheat your grill on high for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to medium and cover your cooking surface with slices of white bread. (We’re not worried about nutrition here, and white bread’s light color will make it easier to see changes in cooking temperature).

Allow your bread to toast for 90 seconds, then turn off the heat and flip each slice over in the order they were placed on the grate (if you started on the upper left, start flipping them from the upper left, etc.).

Take a look at the bread — slices that got really toasty brown or even black indicate where your grill’s hot spots are. Bread that is still white or barely toasted indicates the cooler areas of your grill.

It’s a good idea to take a picture of the bread still on the grill after it’s done toasting so you have a visual reminder of your grill’s hot and cool spots.

2-zone grilling technique

Tricks for Managing Gas Grill Hot Spots

While annoying on the surface, hot spots on your gas grill are actually things you can embrace and use to your advantage if you need to use your grill before they’re fixed.

After you’ve done the white bread test and discovered where the hot spots are, use those areas as your direct cooking space. You can use this hot, direct heat to quickly sear the outside of your food, before moving it over to the cooler section to finish cooling without burning the exterior.

If you’re grilling something delicate, like fish, vegetables, or meat with sauces that can burn easily, keep them away from your newly-discovered hot spots so they can cook to perfection.

I’ll break down these tricks to handle hot spots and turn them to your advantage:

  • Map the Grill: Conduct a bread test by placing slices of bread across the grill surface, noting where they toast the fastest to identify the hot spots.
  • Use a Two-Zone Setup: Arrange your food with a high-heat area and a cooler zone on the grill. Start searing on the hot spot, then move to the cooler side to finish cooking.
  • Rotate and Move: Frequently rotate and move your food around on the grill to expose it to consistent temperatures.
  • Shield the Flame: If certain areas are too hot, use a piece of aluminum foil as a heat shield under the food to deflect direct flame.

By implementing these strategies, you can overcome the challenges of hot spots and turn them into advantages.

Gas Grill Hot Spots – FAQs

Still have some burning questions about gas grill hot spots and how to manage them? Check out these FAQs!

What Causes Hot Spots on a Gas Grill?

Hot spots are often caused by uneven gas flow, blockages in the burners, accumulation of grease and debris, or the grill’s design and condition. The good news is, that most of these issues are easily fixable.

How Can I Prevent Hot Spots From Forming on My Grill?

You can prevent hot spots on your grill with regular cleaning, maintaining your grill, and ensuring even gas flow. Using 2-zone cooking, a grill mat, or adjusting food placement can also help.

How Can I Find the Hot Spots on My Grill?

You can find the host spots on your grill by performing the bread test. Place slices of bread across the grill surface, and note where they toast fastest. These are your hot spots.

Can I Still Grill if There Are Hot Spots?

Yes, you can still grill if there are host spots by using a two-zone grilling method, rotating food frequently, and utilizing indirect heat for better temperature control and even cooking.

Are Hot Spots Fixable, or Do I Need a New Grill?

Yes, most hot spots are fixable on a gas grill. Many hot spots can be fixed by cleaning the burners, ensuring proper gas flow, and replacing any damaged parts. A new grill is rarely necessary.

How to Fix Hot Spots on a Gas Grill: Final Thoughts

Hot spots are part of a common issue when owning a gas grill. But they don’t have to be a dealbreaker!

If you’re still working through the potential issues and troubleshooting instructions on this list but need to use your grill, use these spots to your advantage to get a quality sear on your food before letting it cook over the cooler sections.

We’re huge proponents of zone cooking, and if your grill does some of the leg work for you by forming hot spots, embrace it!

We hope the information in this article has helped shed some light on what causes hot spots, how you can even them out, and how you can lean into them when all else fails.

If you have any questions about the troubleshooting tips listed in this guide, let us know in the comment section.

Cheers,

Emily

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DisclosureAt The Grilling Life, I am committed to researching and writing thoughtful, informative and editorially independent reviews of the best products for your outdoor cooking needs.  If you like what I do, you can support me through my chosen links, which earn me a commission.  This allows me to continue sharing with you my love for all things barbecue.  Your support is truly appreciated.

Emily Lord

I’m a Wisconsin-based freelance writer and home cook who loves hosting parties and expressing my love for my family and friends through homemade meals and baked goods.

I blame Iron Chef and Chopped for my competitiveness in the kitchen.

In my free time, I occasionally run marathons as an excuse to eat more good food.