The Basics Of Backyard Barbecuing

Make A Clean Start

When the warm weather finally arrives our thoughts turn to one of the most fundamental rites of a Canadian summer…. backyard barbecuing. But before the first burger of the season hits the grill, make sure you’ve inspected and cleaned your propane or natural gas barbecue.

Make sure the burner ports are free of rust or dirt and that the burner orifice is clear of dust and cobwebs, as blockages can be dangerous. Use a pipe cleaner or wire to ensure they are clear of any obstructions.

Next, check that the hose is in good condition. A damaged or cracked hose can send out a jet of propane that, if ignited, could result in a flame several feet long.

If you have a propane barbecue, check all cylinder connections and hoses for leaks. Never use a match or lighter to check for leaks. Brush a mixture of 50% soap and 50% water onto all connections and hoses. Rising bubbles indicate a leak. Repair or tighten all connections until there are no bubbles.

It is always better to be safe, so if you are uncertain about the condition of any part of your barbecue replace it with a new component. Parts for your barbecue are readily available at most hardware stores and building supply centres.

If you are uncomfortable performing safety checks and repairs on your propane or natural gas BBQ yourself, please contact a certified fuel-appliance repair person; check the yellow pages in your area or call TSSA at 1-877-682- 8772.

Once your barbecue is in safe working condition you are ready to begin cooking. When lighting the grill always have the lid open. First open the valve at the cylinder, then turn the barbecue on at the grill controls and then light the burner using the igniter button.

If there is no igniter button, insert the flame from a long match or barbecue lighter through the side burner hole. If you are using a match, have the match lit before you turn on the gas at the grill controls.

If the burner doesn’t ignite, turn the gas off and wait five minutes, keeping the lid open before trying again.

Once you are certain everything is in good working order…enjoy!

Dos and Don'ts Around The Grill

Few things can match the fun and enjoyment of a barbecue with family and friends. Practice sensible, safe barbecuing and your summer get-together will be sizzling success!


  • Remember to always turn the gas valve on first.
  • Keep gas hoses away from hot surfaces and hot grease.
  • Keep children away from the gas valve and the grill.
  • Keep loose clothing away from the hot barbecue.
  • When you finish, turn the valve off first to allow the gas in the hose to be burned off, then turn off the burner controls so no gas remains trapped in the hose.
  • Allow your barbecue to cool completely before covering it.
  • When shopping for a new barbecue, look for the CSA Blue Flame Mark which shows that the BBQ meets recognized Canadian safety standards.


  • Leave the barbecue unattended when in use.
  • Allow grease to build up. Clean the burners and grill regularly to minimize the risk of a serious grease fire.
  • Put water on a grease fire. It will only cause the flames to flare.
  • Barbecue in an enclosed space, such as a garage.
  • Place your barbecue near wooden fences or walls, beneath a combustible roof overhead or even under a tree with low branches. Be extra careful about the area behind the BBQ where hot gases escape and could create a fire hazard.

Time To Trade In Your Propane Cylinder?

Strictly enforced safety regulations are one reason why incidents involving propane tanks are rare. Propane cylinders must be inspected and re-qualified or replaced every 10 years in Canada. A date stamp on the collar of the cylinder indicates when it was last qualified.

Just because a propane cylinder hasn’t reached its 10-year limitation, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be replaced. Check your tank closely. If it is rusty, damaged or you just aren’t sure if it’s reliable, don’t take unnecessary risks. Replace it with a new one and be certain of your safety. When you do get a new propane cylinder , make sure you turn the old one in so that it can be properly purged and recycled or disposed of.

All new propane cylinder must be purged of air and moisture prior to the first filling.

The law requires that only a properly trained and certified attendant may fill a tank. The attendant will not fill an outdated propane cylinder or fill any cylinder beyond 80% of its capacity.

Don’t Take Short Cuts When Transporting Propane Cylinders

We’ve all been there. You’ve got everything ready for a big backyard barbecue and, ‘oh no’, the propane cylinder is empty! In a panic you drop everything to rush off and get the cylinder refilled in time.

Don’t rush! Take the extra few minutes to ensure you handle your cylinder properly and transport it safely to minimize risk and avoid potential incidents and injury.

Do It Right:

  • Always thread the special plug into the outlet of the service valve as soon as you disconnect the hose.
  • Always carry the cylinder in an upright position with the safety valve on top.
  • Never put a propane cylinder in a closed vehicle. If it is in the trunk, block the trunk lid open. It is preferable to transport it on the floor of the passenger compartment.
  • Secure the cylinder in the upright position so it can’t tip over while you’re driving.
  • When it is inside the passenger compartment have all the windows open.
  • Never leave a cylinder in a parked car with the windows up. Heat builds up quickly and could cause an explosion.
  • When reconnecting the cylinder make sure it is secured in place on the barbecue.
  • After the hose is reconnected, check for leaks using the water and soap solution. If there are bubbles tighten the connection.
  • Never smoke while handling a propane cylinder.

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Choosing a Barbecue

Look for a barbecue that complies with recognized safety standards. Find out more.