5 Tips for Protecting Your Outdoor Kitchen in the Fall and Winter

outdoor kitchen in winter

An outdoor kitchen is a great feature to have at your house if you enjoy entertaining and spending time outdoors. Nothing quite beats a warm evening spent cooking outside and socializing as the kids run around the backyard. As summer turns to fall, however, you will need to ensure your outdoor kitchen is prepared for the colder weather. Failing to winterize your outdoor kitchen can result in expensive repairs the next year. By knowing how to protect your outdoor kitchen in winter and following these guidelines, you can ensure that your appliances and features will be in good shape and ready to go when the warm weather returns.

1. Take Care of Your Plumbing

Water that remains in the pipes and plumping system of your outdoor kitchen can cause a big problem if you don’t manage it properly. When it starts freezing outside, the water in these pipes can freeze too, causing your pipes to burst. This problem can turn into a huge nuisance, racking up hefty plumbing bills, leading to flooding, and making your outdoor kitchen unusable for a period of time. By making sure to evacuate water from all faucets and supply lines, you can avoid issues with freezing pipes.

To clear your pipes, you should first find and shut off all water supply lines leading to the kitchen from the indoor plumbing system. Make sure to perform the shut off using a valve inside your home so that water does not rest in outdoor pipes. Once the water is shut off, begin draining the lines. Make sure you do not neglect water supply lines connected to refrigerators, ice makers, and sinks. Unless you have a gravity-based kitchen winterization system in place, compressed carbon dioxide often works best for clearing water from lines. Finally, ensure that all drain valves are in the open position for the duration of the winter. By guaranteeing that no water remains in your pipes as winter sets in, you can save yourself from expensive repairs.

2. Prepare Your Grill

It’s a good idea to do some maintenance on your outdoor grill at the end of the summer. Even if you plan to use the grill occasionally during the colder months, a good cleaning will make sure it’s working well when barbecue season rolls around. To clean and prepare your grill, complete the following steps:

cal flame grill
  • Use a degreaser to rid your grill of built up grease that will be difficult to scrub off.
  • Polish the grill with stainless steel polish.
  • With a metal grill brush, scrub areas that remain dirty.
  • Remove the grates and clean underneath.
  • Season cooking surfaces by applying vegetable oil to grates and allowing the grill to heat at 500 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes.
  • Turn off the gas line if you will not be using your grill during the winter.

Depending on the material and quality of your grill, it may be able to resist the elements without a cover. If you do choose to use a cover, however, make sure to use one designed for your type of grill that will allow moisture to escape. Synthetic materials work best for withstanding weather and allowing moisture to move through.

3. Cover or Seal if Needed

Covering surfaces and appliances in your outdoor kitchen can prevent wear, cracks, and stains due to cold and wet weather. Use caution when covering surfaces, however, as allowing moisture to get trapped underneath a cover can be more damaging than exposure. Ice makers and refrigerators, for example, often do better when left uncovered because they can easily accumulate moisture. It is advised to contact the manufacturer of your appliances for instructions on how best to protect them from the elements.

You can also apply sealers and finishers to protect surfaces from wear. If you have stainless steel appliances or cabinets, it would be a good idea to apply a coat of stainless steel finish. Make sure everything has been removed from cabinets and that they are free of dirt and debris. Wood cabinets and surfaces should be oiled. Weather can wear down the finish on stone countertops over time; you can purchase sealers designed for stone to prevent this from happening. Applying one of these products will help guard expensive outdoor stone surfaces from stains and damage.

4. Winterize the Refrigerator and Ice Maker

Before the weather gets cold, your ice maker and refrigerator should be prepared to handle the weather change. First, turn the power off on both units. You should have already shut off the water supply and drained the water lines leading to the machines. After these steps are complete, either turn off the ice maker and refrigerator’s circuits in your home’s electrical panel or unplug the devices. Then, clean the units according the following steps:

  • Empty the ice maker’s storage bin, clean it, and make sure the drain valve is closed.
  • Completely empty the refrigerator, and gently clean it with soap and water.
  • Take off the front grill of both machines and use a vacuum cleaner to clean the area behind it. Reattach the grill when done.
  • Do not cover your ice maker or refrigerator. This can lead to an accumulation of moisture that can damage the unit.

5. Get Your Fire Pit Ready

real flame fire pit

If you have a fire pit outside your home, you will also need to take steps to ensure it is ready for the cold and will function readily come spring. First, remove debris, ash, and wood that may have accumulated in the fire pit throughout the summer. If your fire runs on gas, make sure to turn off the supply. Then, you may want to cover the fire pit with a weather resistant cover to keep out snow, leaves, and animals. You can purchase a fire pit cover that is custom designed for the dimensions of your unit.

If you have faced repair costs in the past or are preparing for your first winter with a new outdoor kitchen, you may have questions as to how to protect your outdoor appliances in the cold. Keeping your kitchen safe from damage caused by the elements comes down to being prepared. Advancement of technology has made the winterization process much easier, but you still cannot be passive. By taking the proper precautions and taking care of all features, you can rest assured your outdoor kitchen will be in great shape come summer.

5 Ways to Clean Your Oven Racks

Cleaning Ovens

There is not a lot of things that are more irritating to clean than a dirty oven, except possibly stained oven racks. Even if you use your oven sparingly, chances are that sticky grime, baked-on grease and burned pieces of food will accumulate. Some people have self-cleaning ovens, but many repair companies are cautioning against utilizing this feature. Temperatures can reach 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, causing damage to internal elements and the racks. The extreme heat level in the cleaning cycle destroys the shiny chrome finish. To prolong their life and avoid the racks looking dull, you should clean your oven racks the old-fashioned way.

Putting off cleaning your oven racks will only delay the inevitable and increase the amount of work needed to remove layers of baked-on food debris and grease. Rest assured that cleaning them is easy with the right technique. If you have a standard oven or a self-cleaning model in your home, you are going to need to learn how to clean your oven racks. Fortunately, by following any of these methods, you can get the job done quickly and with a minimum of hassle.

1. Dryer Sheets and Dishwashing Liquid

An effortless way to clean your oven racks is to line your bathtub with dryer sheets. Lay the oven racks on top of the sheets, fill the tub with just enough warm water to cover the racks and add a half-cup of dish soap. Allow everything to sit overnight. Drain the tub in the morning and use the soaked dryer sheets to wipe the racks clean. The power of the antistatic in the dryer sheets helps to separate the food from the racks by diluting the bond, while the fabric softening agents soften the baked-on food. Because this method happens in the bathtub, cleanup after you take care of the oven racks is easy.

2. Baking Soda and Vinegar Bath

For this method you will also be using your bathtub. Set the racks in the tub without any water. Once they are in place, sprinkle baking soda–which acts an a cleanser and deodorizer–over the racks and then douse them with vinegar. After the foaming stops, run the hot water in the tub until it fully covers the racks and allow them to sit overnight. Scrub the racks with an old dishtowel in the morning to remove the grease and grime. Use an old toothbrush to remove the baked-on gunk. For especially stubborn spots, add kosher salt to create a more abrasive scrubbing system. Afterward, rinse the racks completely before you place them back in the oven.

Wall Oven

3. Ammonia Trash Bags

This is a fairly standard and straightforward no-mess method. You will need a large plastic trash bag, ammonia, a trash bin, a place outside where you can leave the racks overnight and a hose connected to a water source. To remove the grime from your oven racks with this technique, you simply place your oven racks in the large, unused trash bag. Add a half-quart of ammonia. Tightly tie off the bag and put it in a garbage can. Then let them sit overnight. The racks do not have to be coated in the ammonia, because the fumes will circulate and do the job. That being said, some people have found better success after they set the racks flat while they are in the plastic bags so that the ammonia can reach every spot.

If you try this, be very careful to seal the bags tightly so that the ammonia cannot leak out. Also make sure to place the garbage can outside so you don’t allow these dangerous fumes to circulate inside of your home. The next day, open the trash bag in a well-ventilated area. Be cautious of the ammonia and the fumes! Use gloves and safety goggles and wear something that you do not mind ruining. Spray the racks down thoroughly with a hose and watch the previously cooked-on grease dissolve right off. Once the racks are rinsed and dried, replace them in the oven.

4. Commercial Cleaners

Most commercial cleaners produce toxic fumes, so if you plan on using one, be sure to clean the racks outside. Cover a work surface with a plastic shower curtain or old newspaper. Lay the oven racks down in separate layers. After you put on rubber gloves to protect your hands, spray an oven cleaner product liberally onto both sides of the racks. Leave them sitting for at least 10 minutes, or whatever the recommended amount of time is for that product. Scrub the racks with an old rag or toothbrush and rinse thoroughly with a garden hose before replacing.

5. Dishwasher Soap Bath

For this strategy, all that you need is a bathtub, dishwasher granules, old towels and a few old sponges. This simple method has you place old towels down in your bathtub. Alternately, you can lay a few old sponges in the corners for the oven racks to rest on so that they will not scratch or damage your tub. Place the oven racks in your bathtub carefully, on top of the towel or sponges. Next fill your tub with just enough hot water to cover the racks. Then add a cup of dishwasher powder. Let the racks soak overnight. In the morning, rinse the racks. The stains will usually wipe right off with a firm rub of a sponge or clean cloth.

If you follow this tip but the marks still persist, try something more abrasive, like a dish scourer. If you are cleaning an oven rack with an enamel finish, make sure you do not apply too much pressure. Also, do not leave the product in contact with the racks for an extended period. An old toothbrush might be helpful for scrubbing into the corners and completely removing old scorch marks. Rinse thoroughly, dry and replace them in your oven.

Cleaning oven racks is time-consuming, and the chemicals present in most conventional oven cleaners are toxic. In addition, stains from burnt on foods can be enough to put anyone off from cleaning their oven racks. Nonetheless, with these simple and practical techniques, your oven racks will be glistening like new sooner than you realize. There are many other ways to clean oven racks, but these are the methods that do not require much work from you. Cleaning oven racks is a neglected and dirty job, but by following these techniques you can return them to their original sparkle with very little effort.

4 Built-In Appliances to Replace a Trash Compactor

Built-In Appliance

If your kitchen has a trash compactor, but you hardly ever use it, then maybe it’s time you replaced it with a different appliance. Updating this appliance is a one-step way to update your kitchen and transform your space.

Trash compactors are typically just under 15 inches in width, but just to be safe, make sure to measure your model and the opening it sits in before deciding on the new appliance you want to exchange it with.

To help get you started, we’ve put together a list of appliances that are 15 inches wide or slightly under and could easily replace your outdated trash compactor. Start dreaming of the ways you can upgrade your home:

1. Wine Cooler

Have an affinity for wine or looking to class up your space? A wine cooler will definitely upgrade the look of your kitchen. There are many different designs you can choose from, but all of them have sleek, contemporary finishes sure to be a conversation starter amongst visiting family and friends.

Aside from the aesthetics, if you enjoy wine then placing a wine refrigerator in your kitchen will be a fitting and convenient addition. You can easily pair a wine with your dinner, entertain guests or enjoy a glass after a long day at work. The wine will be perfectly chilled to your preferred temperature and waiting for you when you want it.

Like all under counter appliances, you will want to make sure you are purchasing a wine cooler that is specifically designed for built-in purposes. A freestanding unit should not be built into cabinetry because it will overheat and stop working, and in the process, your wine could be ruined.

Some of my favorite 15 inch built-in wine coolers:

1. Koldfront BWR300BL Built-In Wine Cooler

Koldfront BWR300BL Built-In Wine Cooler

This understated wine cooler has all of the best features without any of the fuss.


  • Single zone wine cooler
  • Holds up to 30 bottles
  • Temperature range of 40-65° F
  • LED display & interior lighting
  • Slide out wire shelves

2. EdgeStar CWR262DZ Built-In Wine Cooler

EdgeStar CWR262DZ Built-In Wine Cooler

Perfect for the wine red and white wine drinker, this dual zone unit has two independently controlled temperature zones. The upper zone is ideal for red wines, while the lower zone is perfect for lighter varietals.


  • Dual zone wine cooler
  • Holds up to 26 bottles
  • Temperature ranges:
    • Lower zone – 40-54° F
    • Upper zone – 54-64° F
  • Slide out steel-trimmed, wooden shelves

3. Avallon AWC280DZ Built-In Wine Cooler

Avallon AWC280DZ Built-In Wine Cooler

This dual zone wine cooler has all of the bells and whistles that cause wine aficionados to swoon: low-emissivity dual pane glass doors filled with argon, seamless stainless steel trim, and roll-out shelving just to name a few.


  • Dual zone wine cooler
  • Holds up to 28 bottles
  • Temperature range: 40 – 54°F (both zones)
  • Has a lock for keeping your wine secure
  • Roll out wood shelves with stainless steel trim

2. Beverage Refrigerator

Free up valuable refrigerator space and impress guests with an array of drink varieties by installing a beverage refrigerator in the place of your trash compactor. Sodas and beers can take up quite a bit of shelf space that could instead be used for more groceries or dinner leftovers.

Having a designated fridge for your drinks will also make it easier when entertaining; guests will know exactly where to go for a refill.

My favorite 15 inch built-in beverage fridges:

1. EdgeStar CBR901SG Built-In Beverage Refrigerator

EdgeStar CBR901SG Built-In Beverage Refrigerator

You’ll be able to stock plenty of beer and sodas for your friends and family in this sleek beverage fridge. A digital temperature display ensures your drinks are kept at your exact specifications.


  • Holds up to 80 cans
  • Temperature range: 38-50°F
  • Has a lock for keeping beverages secure
  • Slide out shelving
  • Blue LED interior lighting

2. Koldfront BBR900BL Built-In Beverage Refrigerator

Koldfront BBR900BL Built-In Beverage Refrigerator

This beverage fridge has all of the features as the EdgeStar fridge but comes in a classic black rather than stainless steel.


  • Holds up to 80 cans
  • Temperature range: 38-50°F
  • Recessed handle
  • Slide-out wire shelving
  • LED interior lighting

3. Marvel 3BARMBSG Built-In Wine & Beverage Fridge

Marvel 3BARMBSG Built-In Wine & Beverage Fridge

Can’t decide between a beverage or wine fridge? With this wine & beverage fridge, you don’t have to!


  • Holds up to 60 beverage cans & 4 bottles of wine
  • Temperature range: 40-65°F
  • Slide out maple-trimmed, wire shelves
  • Double pane, tinted, UV-resistant glass door
  • An alarm if the temperature is higher or lower than desired point for an extended time.

3. Refrigerator

Maybe instead of drinks, it’s too much food that’s making it difficult to close your kitchen refrigerator door. An under-counter refrigerator might be the answer to your problems then.

Beverage fridges and regular fridges have a similar temperature range, but beverage fridges might get warmer than you need for storing food. Also, many refrigerators have door storage and adjustable shelves, which most beverage refrigerators don’t have.

Here is my recommended built-in refrigerator:

Marvel 30AR Built-In Refrigerator

Marvel 30AR Built-In Refrigerator

This high-end refrigerator from Marvel features a timeless design sure to look great amongst any kitchen décor.


  • 3.0 cubic foot capacity
  • 3 adjustable, chrome-plated wire shelves & 3 door shelves
  • Auto-defrost
  • Filler kit allows usage in 18-inch wide opening
  • Leveling legs

4. Ice Maker

If you have a large family, love to entertain, or simply love eating ice, you may have found that your refrigerator just can’t keep up with your needs. If this is the case for you, consider replacing your trash compactor with an undercounter ice maker.

There are quite a few different undercounter ice makers available on the market and most make what is known as clear ice, meaning it contains no impurities; it’s restaurant quality. Other options include gourmet, nugget, and crescent. However, the Scotsman that I’ve included in my list of favorite built-in ice machines makes what is known as nugget ice or, as most people call it, Sonic ice. That’s right; you can get delicious Sonic ice right in your home!

My favorite built-in ice makers:

1. EdgeStar IB450SS Built-In Ice Maker

EdgeStar IB450SS Built-In Ice Maker

This clear ice maker features a sleek stainless steel door that’ll match your existing appliances. An ice scoop, removable bin, and all installation parts arrive with the ice maker.


  • Makes up to 45 pounds of ice a day
  • Stores up to 25 pounds of ice
  • Removable ice bin
  • Gravity drain line
  • Insulated ice storage

2. Koldfront KIM450BL Built-In Clear Ice Maker

Koldfront KIM450BL Built-In Clear Ice Maker

Over the stainless steel craze? Change it up with this black undercounter ice machine. Able to produce 45 lbs. of restaurant-quality ice per day, you’ll never be without ice again.


  • Makes up to 45 pounds of ice a day
  • Stores up to 25 pounds of ice
  • Removable ice bin
  • Drain line included
  • Produces clear ice cubes

3. Ice-o-Matic Nugget Ice Machine

Ice-o-Matic Nugget Ice Machine

Love sonic ice? Enjoy the same delicious, chewable ice you know and love in the comfort of your own home. This undercounter nugget ice machine will cause you to wonder what kept you from replacing that old trash compactor sooner.


  • Makes up to 85 pounds of ice a day
  • Stores up to 22 pounds of ice
  • Produces “Sonic” ice
  • Approved for both indoor and outdoor use
  • Ice scoop included

So, now that you know about the variety of built-in appliances available, it’s time for you to update your kitchen by getting rid of that outdated, unused trash compactor. Fall in love with your kitchen all over again with this one-step transformation.