The Effect of Drilling Holes in Gas BBQ Burners

The idea of drilling holes in the burner of a gas BBQ may raise some eyebrows among health and safety officers. After all, gas is highly flammable, and even using a small gas BBQ can expose the user to the risk of injury—more so than by using a simple charcoal barbecue. However, there are some good reasons for wanting to drill holes in the burner, or even to expand the holes which already exist in the burner. While it is generally not recommended, it is possible to do this for yourself.

Why Drill Holes in a Gas BBQ?

There are two main reasons for drilling holes in a gas BBQ. First, it will enlarge the already existing holes during conversion from propane to natural gas. Second, it will remove corrosion and dirt build-up that have occurred on older gas BBQS. Drilling holes is often a last-ditch attempt to save on the cost of replacing the grill or paying someone else to do the conversion.

From Propane to Natural Gas

The gas BBQ is most commonly run using propane gas. This gas is extremely volatile, and the tanks are liable to become damaged. Propane gas BBQs require a great deal of care and attention in addition to regular filling-up, which can be a chore in itself. As a result of these problems, people are now turning to natural gas.

Natural gas is less pressurized than propane gas, and so converting a propane gas BBQ to natural gas means that the BTU of the burner holes will have to be increased. The burner holes for a propane barbecue are small, but natural gas needs larger holes. It takes a lot more volume of natural gas than propane to light a BBQ, and the nozzle sizes on the burner needs to be increased, but this can be done in about 15 minutes with a standard drill bit piece.

Drilling out the main burners with a bit around 47 should be suitable. This will enable the burner to be turned up. The setting might become lower than factory recommendations, but on higher settings it should be significantly improved.

Fighting Corrosion

Another reason for drilling holes in the burner is due to corrosion or dirt build up within the burner itself. Many outdoor cooks find that, over time, burned food becomes stuck to the holes, and cannot be removed through scouring or other methods. Sadly, there is no such thing as a non-stick grate for a gas BBQ.

Drilling holes in the gas BBQ burner helps to improve the flow of gas towards the fuel ignition, making it light more quickly and providing a good flaming surface on which to cook. Drilling another couple of holes in the burner can help to release gas trapped by the dirt deposits, although be careful of drilling too many holes and causing an explosion. Drilling holes in the burner are often used as a last resort after attempting to ‘season’ the burner with oil.

Both of these drilling procedures should improve the gas pressure being received into the burner; ask the gas company for a recommendation of gas pressure, and then check that this corresponds with the pressure after drilling.