Winter Grilling and Storage
Joe Schultz – BBQ Shop Manager/Grilling Expert
As we prepare for another Midwest winter, many people are looking for a way to lengthen their grilling season through the cold months to come. However, others who are not as hard-core about outdoor cooking might be thinking about storing their beloved grills to make sure they’re ready for next spring. Whichever path you choose to take, there are some things to consider.
The Type of Grill
When the weather gets cold, the first thing to think about is what type of grill you will be using. The cooler temperatures will affect a gas grill differently than a pellet grill. Even a kettle will cook differently than a ceramic kamado based on the chill. Figuring out when to use each one can help you battle the cold, while still cooking your favorite meals.
Gas grills use a direct heat style of cooking. This is a very efficient heat source, and wind can hamper that direct flow of heat. Finding a place to set the gas grill where the wind is not hitting the back is very important. The exhaust of a gas grill is along the backside. This is a place where cold wind can move through the grill and dampen your flame. We recommend buying a Weber gas grill that has a double-lined hood and cast aluminum base will help that grill retain heat.
Pellet grills can vary tremendously in how they are affected by the cold. Pellet grills use indirect heat and convection to cook. This makes insulation very important. If you have a grill that does not have any insulation built into the lid, an insulation blanket will make a big difference in getting the grill up to your cooking temperature and holding at that temp. If you are looking at purchasing a new pellet grill that can handle the cold, the Traeger Timberline series grills are insulated enough to handle subzero weather.
When cooking with charcoal in the cold, ceramic kamado grills like the Big Green Egg or Kamado Joe are the best option. The insulation that the ceramic provides allows the grill to remain unaffected by the cold, and high winds will only make these charcoal grills get hotter. The ceramic kamado is one of the most versatile grills. You can grill and sear meat at temps reaching upwards of 700 degrees Fahrenheit or use a heat shield to create indirect heat and smoke food low and slow at temps as low as 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
Tips For Grilling in the Cold
When cooking on any type of grill in the cold, there are a few things that will help you have success.
1. Keep the lid closed as much as possible.
It is always tempting to take a peek at the culinary masterpiece that is being prepared. However, every time the grill lid is opened, you are losing a lot of heat from the grill. Relying on internal food temperature instead of what the food looks like will also make it easier to keep the grill sealed while waiting for the cook to finish. A leave-in thermometer like the Meater by Traeger or a wireless thermometer like a Fireboard makes it possible to monitor temps without opening the grill. With Bluetooth and WiFi technology, you can check the temps from the comfort of your own home.
2. Keep the grill close to an entry.
A long walk outside in the cold to check on a meal will make for an unpleasant experience.
3. Wear your high temp grill gloves.
The same gloves that allow you to handle piping hot dishes will also shield your hands from the cold and snow.
4. Keep your grill covered when storing it between cooks.
Snow can be a fantastic insulator for an igloo, but it is not the best insulator for the grill. The cold snow will make it harder for the grill to heat and the melted snow will inevitably make a skating rink under your grill.
5. When preparing to store a grill for the winter, think about how to make the first cook of the year as easy as possible.
If there is an abnormally warm day in March, will your grill be ready for an impromptu cook? A deep clean of the burners, body of the grill, drip pans, and vents is a good place to start. If you need to replace a part of the grill like an igniter, or hot rod (pellet grill igniter) this would be a good time to tackle that project. Make sure that the grill cover is snug and secured. The number one reason that people replace a grill cover is that their old one blew away.
6. For ceramic kamado grills, a burn-off is in order.
This is when you fill the grill with charcoal and let the grill run with the top and bottom vent doors wide open. The grill will reach temperatures exceeding 700 degrees and will burn off soot and grease build-up.
7. Stocking up on fuel for the winter is another thing to think about.
This will allow you to be ready for any cook to come. Pellets should be stored in an airtight container to prevent moisture.
Winter Tune-Up with Certified Service Shop Technicians
John McBeain and Dan Emch
As the seasons change, you should start looking at getting your snow blower ready for the first snowfall and prepping your mower for storage. Our service shop offers annual service and repairs on small engine equipment like snowblowers, lawn mowers, chainsaws, string trimmers and ice augers.
We will still be mowing for a few months, but having a plan to switch to snow is always a good idea.
- Make sure you are using a fuel treatment such as Helix Fuel Additive when filling your mower or any small engine.
- The best advice is to run the mower out of gas at the end of the season so the tank is empty. Try starting it a few extra times until it is completely dead to make sure it is totally empty.
- Over the next few months, only put in as much gas as you think you will use. This will prevent gas wasted at the end of the season.
- Always start every new season with fresh highoctane 91, non-ethanol gas. This will extend the life of any small engine.
Snow will be here before we know it. While it’s still nice out, start your snowblower and make sure everything is working properly.
- Check the electric start, engine and auger. Also, make sure the drive cables are working properly. This will prevent headaches when you wake up to 6” of snow in the driveway.
- If you don’t own a snowblower, now might be the time to purchase one. We offer battery-operated snowblowers from EGO and Toro. The batteries from these machines can also be used in other power equipment tools like string trimmers, chainsaws and leaf blowers. Battery tools are great for those who prefer less maintenance. We offer gas-operated snowblowers from 24” to 32” from Toro as well. There is a snowblower to fit any budget and help save hours of shoveling on those cold winter nights.
Homeowner Winter Checklist
Ashley Wait – Assistant Store Leader
It’s important to prepare your home for the long, cold winter months. Not sure where to start? Check out this list of things to complete around the house before the first snowfall.
- Blow out your underground sprinkler system.
- Turn off the water line to outdoor water spigots and drain them.
- Cover spigots with styro-foam covers.
- Install foam insulation around pipes to prevent freezing.
- Run water in sinks, showers and toilets that might not be used often in your home to prevent freezing pipes.
- Check your sump pump. Remove the discharge hose outside your home so it doesn’t freeze and create a blockage. Install a short PVC pipe so you can clear it out easily, but it still drains away from your foundation.
- Seal doors and windows with caulking to prevent draftiness. This will help you save on your heating bill. Replace torn or worn weather stripping around the door (install a draft guard at the bottom of your door if there is a larger gap).
- Check weather stripping on the bottom of your garage door and replace it if needed. Drain any hoses and store them in a shed or garage. Mow your lawn to the shortest setting. This is a great time to put down fertilizer and seed for next spring. Rake leaves and brush to help prevent snow mold in the spring.
- Put down a mole/vole repellent to help prevent damage to your lawn over the winter.
- Put a Sewer Skewer in your sewer pipe on the roof. It is very difficult to get to the pipe once it has frozen over and can have harmful effects on your home if the pipe has a blockage. Installing now is the best time.
- Clean gutters of fall debris so they are ready for spring rains.
- Pick up any items in the yard and downspouts so you don’t run them over with the snow-blower.
- Test your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Replace the batteries seasonally. If you don’t have a carbon monoxide detector, now is a great time to install one. This is one of the most common hazards in a home during the winter months.
- Put in a new furnace filter and run your furnace one cycle to make sure it is working properly.
- If you do not have a furnace, clean and dust the baseboard heaters. Turn them on over a day or weekend away as they usually have an odor when they run for the first time each winter.
- Cover your air conditioning units to prevent snow and ice build-up. There are covers available for both central air units and wall units. If you have an AC in your window, it should be removed and stored until summer.
- Change the direction of your ceiling fan for winter. It should be moving in a clockwise direction to push heat down into the room instead of gathering at the ceiling.
- Wash your “heavy” blankets to get them smelling fresh for winter.
- Wash your “heavy” blankets to get them smelling fresh for winter.
- Chop wood now if you have a fireplace. Having a good supply going into winter will prevent you from chopping in negative temps in January.
- Check your chimney to make sure it is free of blockage.
- Purchase a “happy” light. Our winters are long and can affect our mood as we go to work in the dark and come home in the dark. A light therapy lamp will help boost your mood!
- Install driveway markers/ reflectors before the ground freezes.
Alexis Maucort Lloyd – Furniture Manager/Interior Designer
Looking to spruce up your living space before winter? We offer a variety of different vendors that have the ability to completely customize your upholstered furniture needs so you are comfy and cozy whether it’s winter, fall, summer or spring. Two of our most popular vendors include Craftmaster and Rowe Furniture. They both offer performance fabric options and leather options. You can customize sectionals, sofas, chairs and ottomans to match your style preference. Performance fabrics are highly recommended to help extend the longevity of your furniture investment. Especially for families with kids and pets!
The process of selecting and customizing a furniture piece or grouping begins with meeting one on one with one of our Interior Designers or home accent consultants to review the needs of your home or business, whether that be with your construction documents, a sketch of your own floor plan or even being at your home with you to help execute the best use of your space. Our experts are here to help coordinate colors and furniture styles to be cohesive with your existing furniture and home. Pair your furniture selection and fresh paint from Benjamin Moore to bring your style dreams to life and we also have over 1,000 fabrics to choose from.
We also carry IMG which specializes in ergonomic and classically styled leather recliners and sectionals. The Divani recliners come in three different sizes to fit your body from petite to tall. The leather is like butter and comes in many different colors. If you have a favorite sports team, we can order them in matching colors. You can make a statement at your next winter get-together by enhancing your dining space or “man cave” with customized bar stools from Trica. Customers can choose all details including the seat height, style of stool and specialty options like swiveling. All legs and seat covering finishes are customizable so you can be comfy, cozy and stylish all winter/all year round.
Also at SCHEELS Home & Hardware is Café Robert!
Stop in as the seasons change for the hottest soup in Fargo and a warm panini sandwich. Café Robert serves breakfast from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. and lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Alongside the Café’s famous homemade panini sandwiches, soups, salads and desserts, they also serve specialty coffee drinks all day!