Before heading out to buy a new barbecue, consider this: that old one may still have years of life left.
Richard Major owns The BBQ Cleaning Co., a Comox Valley business that comes to your home to give your barbecue the equivalent of a makeover. But it’s far from simply an aesthetics procedure.
“A barbecue is an appliance, and when you are using it, there is grease build-up, there is fat build-up, much like an oven,” he said. “So flare-ups can happen. And when it’s not maintained, the fat and the grease are the biggest (contributors) to corrosion. So you can have a really nice barbecue, but if you aren’t really cleaning out the grease, or giving it an annual deep cleaning of the inside, that will rust and corrode your barbecue probably about three to five times faster than it should.”
Bugs are another common issue.
“Spiders really like the smell of gas – especially natural gas,” said Major. “So they can actually make webs inside the valve set, the actual valve itself. Especially in the springtime, when all those little tiny eggs are hatched, they will go in and make a nice little nest in there, and then you will never get much pressure inside the valve set itself.”
He estimates eight out of 10 barbecues are replaced before there’s a need to do so.
“If you bought a barbecue say three years ago, and you maintain it, from this day forward, I would say that barbecue will last you another 10-15 years.”
Major recommends an annual tune-up or inspection of your barbecue.
“Depending on how much you barbecue, if you are barbecuing quite often, if it’s one of the main appliances that you are using throughout the summertime, I would definitely say once a year get it checked out, for sure,” he said. “It doesn’t even have to be a cleaning, but even just an inspection.”
Major has been working with barbecues for nearly his whole life.
He landed his first job working with barbecues at 13 years old.
“My best friend’s dad owned a barbecue company and they needed somebody to assemble barbecues,” he said. “From there, people would come in with repair issues, so I started to diagnose barbecues and fix those. He also had a 10-ton mobile cleaning truck, and that was always kind of my dream, to be on the road, cleaning barbecues.”
By the time Major turned 17, he and his best friend, Scott, had a barbecue cleaning business in Kelowna.
“We would have about 300 people waiting (for a cleaning) before the snow even thawed,” he said.
He moved to the Comox Valley about three years ago, and started buying used barbecues, refurbishing them, then reselling them.
“But then I thought, you know, I just like cleaning them, so I should start doing this, and it’s been a really appreciated need so far,” he said.
For Major, it’s as much about the health side of things, as anything. In addition to being a barbecue cleaner, he is also a registered holistic nutritionist.
“I took a keen interest in nutrition, and became a nutritionist as well, with the focus of ‘how do you cook on a barbecue without making it carcinogenic?’ It really is the aspect of having a clean appliance. We are eating off that. You need to have a clean appliance.”
Major’s barbecue cleaning is all done without chemicals.
“I use organic, Canadian-made elbow grease and a flat razor,” he says on his Facebook page (facebook.com/bbqcleaningco).
He charges a flat rate of $100-$120 per clean, depending on the number of burners on the unit. He will clean any type of barbecue, be it propane, natural gas, or briquette. And until Father’s day, he will cover all the taxes.
He also offers a service to commercial businesses.
“I encourage commercialized kitchens – companies that serve food to customers on barbecues, I am available to them too,” he said. “I do it all.”