Pleasant weather and long holidays can draw people outdoors for cookouts, and the barbecue is invariably the most popular tool for backyard cooking. But what if you don’t have a backyard? Or, what if the weather isn’t cooperating? Can you still grill in a screened-in porch or under a covered patio?
Grills are not safe for use in enclosed spaces such as screened-in porches. Grills have open fires that use up all the oxygen in the air and produce toxic carbon monoxide that can cause suffocation. In addition, thick smoke and embers can escape, posing further risks.
Unfortunately, many people make the mistake of using their grill in confined spaces like a covered or screened-in porch. Every year, fire departments report house fires caused by the misuse of grills. But the damage is not limited to fires; smoke inhalation and severe burns are also reported. So if you want to grill safely this summer, follow our essential tips. Enjoy your cookout!
Is It Safe to Grill Inside a Screened-In Porch?
Screened-in porches are perfect for enjoying the sun and having a pleasant meal without worrying about the bugs. But they’re certainly not a substitute for a grill. Grills use an open flame and produce heat, smoke, and grease, creating a smoky environment.
The smoke can be a health hazard, especially if you’re using a charcoal grill. It contains carbon monoxide, an odorless and colorless gas that can be deadly in high concentrations. Dozens of people lose their lives every year because of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Even if you think your screened-in porch has some ventilation, it might not be enough when the fire gets going. Grills can easily reach temperatures of 500 degrees, and that kind of heat will quickly overcome any ventilation your porch might have.
Plus, grills produce embers that can easily start a bigger fire. Since screened-in porches usually have lots of linen in the form of drapes, furniture, and cushions, they’re especially vulnerable to fires. And a small fire can quickly turn into an inferno.
So, the next time you’re tempted to grill in your screened-in porch, remember that it’s not safe to do so. If you want to have that special barbecue flavor, enjoy it outdoors only or go to public grilling areas. They’re made for just that purpose.
Are Propane Grills Safe in a Screened-In Porch?
Propane grills use an open flame for cooking, just like charcoal grills, but they don’t produce as much smoke and create less carbon monoxide. So they’re a little bit safer than charcoal grills in that aspect. But they’re still not safe to use on a screened-in porch.
Why? Because they still have an open flame and are blazing hot. There are so many possibilities for something to go wrong when you have an open flame inside a closed space. A gust of wind could easily blow the flame and start a fire.
Or the gas could leak inside and create a dangerous situation. If there is minimal or no ventilation, the flames can use up all the oxygen in the air, and you could be asphyxiated under all the smoke.
Propane grills also have a very high temperature, so if they’re near any wooden surfaces, like furniture or even wall siding, they can easily start a fire. That’s why it’s highly recommended to keep your propane grill in an open space and at least five feet away from any structures.
Can You Use a Charcoal Grill in a Screened-In Porch?
Charcoal grills are the most popular type of grill for backyard cooking, but they are also the biggest fire hazard. That’s because charcoal burns way hotter than any other fuel and produces many embers.
Charcoal is also notorious for sucking up all the oxygen and poisoning people with carbon monoxide when it’s used in enclosed spaces.
So charcoal grills are the biggest no-no when it comes to grilling in screened-in porches. It just screams of a disaster waiting to happen.
Is It Safe to Grill Under a Covered Patio?
Though covered patios are not enclosed spaces like screened-in porches, they can still be dangerous for grilling. That’s because the ventilation is still not as good as in a truly open space.
Grills use big open flames, and when they’re under a covered patio, all the heat and smoke go up into the roof. You might not even realize how much smoke is building up under the roof until it’s too late.
Plus, like a screened-in porch, hot embers are still a big danger and can easily ignite any nearby flammable objects. So it’s best to avoid grilling under a covered patio altogether.
In addition to the dangers of grill fires, grilling under a covered or screened patio is also highly damaging to the property. Its thick smoke can stain the walls, roof, and furniture with ugly and transferable soot. And your home will smell like a barbecue for days after.
The exception is if you have a covered patio with a ceiling that is 9 feet or higher, and you’re using an electric or propane grill. In that case, it’s safe to grill, but be sure to keep a close eye on the grill at all times and always keep a fire extinguisher, such as this one from First Alert (on Amazon), on hand. Charcoal grills are still not safe to use in this situation.
So, as you can see, it’s best not to grill in a screened-in porch or under a covered patio. There are just too many dangers and hazards. If you want to grill, do it in an open space. Why risk it?
According to professionals, maintain a 20-inch clearance behind the rear of the grill and 7 inches from the sides when you are cooking outside. If vinyl or wood siding is nearby, increase the distance to at least 2 feet to avoid melting or burning your siding.