Cleaning Z Grills Smoker

Keeping the Z Grill clean is extremely easy, and helps ensure safe and efficient operation.

Cleaning Summary

  1. Vacuum out the fire-pot and grilling area (every 5-10 hours of operation)
  2. Wipe down any areas with grease accumulation (when needed)
  3. Wash out the grease bucket (or line with foil)
  4. Change the foil on the grease tray (when needed)
  5. Run the grill empty (all pellets burnt out) and once cold vacuum out hopper and fire-pot (every 40-50kg of pellets, or if not using for extended period)
  6. Clean the chimney of soot deposits (when needed)

Watch the video below for more information:

Clean Fire-pot & Ignition Rod

The fire-pot will accumulate ash over time. Depending one the pellets used, the ash may need to be clean out every 10-20 hours of operation.

If not vacuumed out regularly the fire cannot light and burn properly. With too much ash in the fire-pot the fire can easily go out mid cook resulting in temperature drops and spikes and even cause burn-back and smoke from the hopper.

See below example of very ash filled fire-pot. The entire pellet feed tube is covered and there is no way for new pellets to contact the ignition rod to ignite. In this case a moist bag of oak based (US) pellets were partly to blame as they generated this much ash in only 10 hours or operation (not normal).

Fire-pot full of ash
Ash packed around RapidFlame ignition rod

When vacuuming out the fire-pot also check to see if there is any build up of compacted ash, particular around the ignition rod. This may need to be broken up with a screwdriver (or similar instrument) and vacuumed out.

If using a RapidFlame™ ignition rod (most Z Grills in Australia since early 2022), also ensure no ash is packed in around the ignition rod inside the tube as show below. Clean this out with piece of stiff wire and turn on the fan to blow out any accumulated ash. This small pipe must be free to allow air to blow out. Packed ash around the ignition rod, as shown in the photo below, can lead to power tripping (not fuse blowing) as the ignition rod over-heats.

The end of the ignition rod can also be gently cleaned with wire brush or flat screwdriver to remove any built up minerals that have melted out of the burning wood.

Ash packed around RapidFlame ignition rod
Ash packed around RapidFlame ignition rod

Cleaning stainless steel

Z Grills 700E and 700E-XL models have stainless steel hopper and grill lids which look great but can stain over time without proper care.

A common misconception is that stainless steel cannot rust. This is not true. Especially close to the coast (up to 20km inland), where salt can be carried in the air, even high grade marine grade (316) stainless steel can suffer from brown corrosion marks, often referred to as “tea staining”. Regular cleaning can help maintain the “stainless” protective coating on the stainless steel.

Brushed stainless steel with rust stains
Brushed stainless steel with rust spots

To keep your stainless steel lids looking great, wipe down regularly with a BBQ wipe or just soapy water and soft cloth.

If tougher stains or any brown spots appear, using a metal polish cream and ultra-fine (0000 grade) wire-wool works great. There are many brands of metal polish on the market, but we have used and recommend Metal Kleen and Polish from Hillmark which is inexpensive and widely available.

Cleaning Z Grills smoker stainless steel

Polish the stainless steel with the cream back and forth aligned with the direction of the brushed metal grain, not in circles. Polish off the excess cream with a clean dry cloth.

Do not wash the surface after polishing, as the cream leaves a protective coating which will help reduce future staining.

Only use metal polish on the outside of the lid. It is not important to clean the inside of the lid, but if you do, just use BBQ wipes or a wet cloth, as you don’t want any chemicals on the inside of the grill where it could impact food safety or flavour. It is unlikely the inside the of the grill will get any rust as the coating from cooking forms a protective barrier.

Clean out all pellets

If you live in very humid conditions, then leaving pellets sitting in the hopper for even a couple of weeks could be an issue. This will become apparent if the pellets do not burn well, in particular if they struggle to reach the desired temperature or the fire goes out.

If not planning to use the grill for several weeks or longer, it is a very good idea to scoop out all the remaining pellets (temporarily remove the protective guard if required).

Two small screws under the lid of the guard

There are two small screws under the front and rear lid of the guard as shown below. With those removed the guard can be lifted out, making it easy to scoop the pellets out right to the bottom.

Plastic scoop, mug or bowl work great to scoop pellets out

With most of the pellets used up (or scooped out) of the hopper, fire up and run the grill until all the pellets are feed into the fire-pot and the fire eventually goes out.

Once the fire has gone out and the temperature drops, the grill will eventually show a LER (low temperature ) error on the screen (which is ok). Turn the dial to Shut Down and the power switch OFF.

Once the grill has cooled down, vacuum out the bottom of the hopper of wood dust and the the fire-pot and grill drum of ash.

Ash on grill racks

It is common to see some ash on the grill racks during the first couple of cooks when the internal surfaces are still very clean. This is normal.

After a few uses the grill’s internal surfaces will develop a sticky coating that ash will stick to as it blows around the grill in the air resulting in far less visible ash.

If there continues to be lots of ash visible, check to see if there is a significant air leak from under the fire-pot which may be causing ash to be blown around more aggressively. This is will be clearly visible as a patch of ash will be blown clean to the left of the fire-pot. A small area is normal, but if it extends out around 15cm that means there is lots of air flow. To solve this a glass-wool gasket can be placed under the fire-pot. Contact our support team and we can send one out.