The barbecue pressure regulator is usually attached to the propane or liquefied petroleum (LP) gas tank. This device takes the high-pressure gas contained in the tank and reduces it to a workable steady pressure while cooking. Most barbecue pressure regulators used in a residential application cannot be adjusted and are preset at the factory. The control knobs on the grill adjust the desired flame for your needs, but sometimes, you may need to reset the regulator if the barbecue is not heating up enough.
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Some larger commercial or high-end grills, especially those used on a natural gas system, have an adjustable gas pressure regulator. These pressure regulators can be adjusted to achieve the right performance for the cookout.
Pressure of Propane Explained
Propane, like many liquids and gases, increases in pressure as the temperature increases. It is a simple theory of temperature and pressure rising and falling. Simply put, on a hot, sunny day, the pressure in the tank will be higher than on a cold winter day. This is why a pressure regulator on your LP gas tank is necessary to maintain a steady pressure of propane to grill that savory steak.
Resetting the Gas Regulator Valve
Sometimes, the regulator needs nothing more than a reset. This can be caused by having all the control valves on while turning on the tank. The sudden flow of propane causes the regulator to use the built-in safety device, called a bypass, and causes the regulator to only flow about 30 percent of the gas. This creates a low-heat or small-flame situation.
To reset, turn off the propane tank valve and open the lid of the grill. Turn on all control valves while the propane tank is still off. Leave it open for a short period of time and close the control valves. Slowly turn on the propane tank and light it according to the barbecue instructions.
Verifying That the Gas Regulator Is Adjustable
Gas pressure regulators that come with most barbecue grills are usually factory set to a fixed pressure and cannot be adjusted. It's simple to determine whether the pressure regulator is adjustable. The regulator attached to your propane tank has either a sealed adjustment or not. An adjustable regulator has a slot for a screwdriver or a hex-shaped cap that exposes the plastic adjustment screw.
How to Adjust a BBQ Pressure Regulator
After verifying that the pressure regulator is in fact adjustable, the steps for making adjustments are no different on a barbecue grill than on a propane tank regulator for a gas stove.
Step 1: Turn Off All Valves
Turn off all valves, including the barbecue control valves and tank valve itself.
Step 2: Find the Adjustment Screw
The adjustment screw is under the cap. Disconnect the regulator from the tank. This ensures the regulator is reset. Remove the cap on the regulator with a large flat-blade screwdriver or a wrench if it is hex-shaped. Don't force off the cap. If it does not come off easily, replace the regulator. Wait until the grill has cooled before making any adjustments.
Step 3: Make the Adjustment
Reinstall the regulator to the tank. Adjust the plastic screw inside the regulator. Turn clockwise for more flame or counterclockwise for less flame. Return the cap to the regulator when you have obtained the desired pressure.
Symptoms of a Bad Regulator
Although gas pressure regulators can last more than 10 years, they can go bad. If you have attempted to make adjustments and nothing appears to be happening, you may have a bad regulator. Be sure to check that the burners are clean and free of carbon and grease buildup, which can occur over time. If in doubt, carefully clean the burners with a wire brush and try again.