With summer cookout festivities in high gear, the last thing anyone needs is a gas grill that won’t fire up because it’s out of propane. Before you pass the appetizers and light the grill, you might want to check your supply of fuel. Luckily, gauging how much propane you have left is easier than you think. All you need is a glass of water.
You can easily save your next barbecue from the certain embarrassment that comes with unexpectedly running out of fuel, and you don’t even need a gauge. Just follow these simple step-by-step instructions:
- Make sure the gas is turned off.
- Disconnect your propane tank from your grill.
- Pour a glass of warm water, carefully, along the side of the tank.
- Feel the tank: The propane will absorb the heat of the water, so it will feel cool to the touch where there is propane, and warm where it’s empty.
As CHOW video producer Blake Smith notes, a full tank provides about 20 hours of grill time—which could cover three to 10 cookouts, depending on how long you’re grilling for guests. If you have more than a quarter of the tank left, you should be good to go for your next outdoor grill party.
Just remember to follow extra safety precautions if you’re using a gas grill.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, gas grills contribute to a higher number of fires than charcoal grills.
To ensure your barbecue doesn’t result in any emergency room visits, follow the NFPA’s safety tips. Before you use your grill:
- Take a look at the connection points that are between the propane tank hose and the regulator and the cylinder (where the hose connects to the burners). If any of these are loose, tighten them.
- Next, check the propane tank hose for potential gas leaks. The NFPA suggests applying “a light soap and water solution to the hose using a brush or spray bottle.”
- Finally, turn on the propane tank. You’ll know there’s a gas leak because the propane will release visible bubbles around the hose. No bubbles? Your grill is ready to go. But if you see bubbles, the NFPA advises you to turn off the tank and check connections. You may need to have your grill serviced by a professional before you can use it again.