Wednesday, June 8, 2016

How To Replace A Gasket On A Big Green Egg Kamado Grill

Once upon a time, back in 2010, we bought Egg #2.  It had virgin ivory ceramics inside and the felt gasket was unblemished.

Big green egg kamado table design

Six years later, the heavy grilling, smoking, and being hauled around to BBQ contests have taken their toll.  The gasket was toast.  Actually it was beyond toast, this gasket more.   

Replacing a BGE gasket and installing a Rutland gasket.
Yeah, it's beyond time to replace this gasket.

Gaskets are the weakest point of a kamado grill.  They function as a seal between the top and bottom pieces of the ceramic grill.  They are made of things like felt, Nomex, and rubber.  Eventually, most of them fail.  Egg #1 lost his gasket within the first year and I ran it gasket-less for years.  Using a kamado without a gasket isn't the end of the world but they work a lot better with one.

How to replace a Grill Dome gasket.
My Grill Dome gasket has had over a year of very heavy use and it is surprisingly intact.  But it has gotten compacted and pretty inflexible so it doesn't provide much of a seal if I have thermometer cables running into the kamado.  I think I'll go ahead and replace it too but it has held up well.
When it comes to replacement gaskets, check with your kamado manufacturer first for their recommendations and whether or not they cover the gasket under warranty (most won't).  

So here is where I tell you don't do what I do, because technically the woven fiberglass gasket that I use is NOT approved by any kamado manufacturers that I know of and it is NOT certified as food safe. This is the thing....I'm not cooking my food on the gasket - I'm cooking it on the grill. 

Step by step tutorial for how to install a new gasket on a big green egg kamado grill.

Step 1 - Get your stuff!

For me, the only gasket that I will use is a Rutland stove gasket. I heard about them from a lot of people who swore by them on the kamado forums. The bottom line for me is that I have never had to replace a Rutland on a kamado once I have installed one. 

What to order to install a new gasket on a BGE kamado grill
The specific model I use is a Rutland 95W-6    (3/4" x 1/4" x 7') .  This is a flat gasket, not the rope style.  You can buy them online from Amazon but I got all three of these items from Ace Hardware in Knoxville.   Note that the gasket is much thicker than the original one on the kamado.  You will only be installing it on the lower rim.  The rim of the dome lid will stay bare after this replacement.

Instead of using the cement provided with the gasket, I like to use Permatex Copper gasket maker.  It's the same stuff we used to seal around the lower vent on other kamados with good success.
How do I replace my grill gasket?
The best tool for cleaning off the gasket, grease and adhesive residue left by the first gasket is a drill mounted 3M Paint and Rust Stripper
Step 2 - Take that kamado apart!
How to remove the bands on a kamado grill.
The first thing you have to do is secure the spring loaded hinge.  These have stored energy so be careful when handling them.  If you kept the retaining pieces (white pieces on top) you can use those.  These were my neighbor's and they didn't fit this older Egg so I used 2 heavy duty zip ties on each side like this.

How to tighten the bands on a kamado grill.
Next, I loosen the 2 band bolts like this until they are completely loose.  Carefully lift the dome lid off and set aside.  Then remove the bands.

Step 3 - Lose the old gasket - or what is left of it.

Pull off the old gasket and remove as much as possible using a small putty knife.

Prepping a kamado grill for gasket replacement.
Then I use the 3M Paint and Rust Stripper on the rims of the top and bottom.  You shouldn't have to press down too hard, let the drill do most of the work.  As always, wear safety glasses when using power tools.

I want the rim to be totally clean of dirt or debris like this so the adhesive can stick to it.
Step 4 - Apply the new gasket.

Using Permatex copper to install a new Rutland gasket on a kamado grill.
Next, I apply a zig zag bead of the Permatex all the way around the rim of the base.  Then immediately start installing the gasket.

You will see the ends are slightly frayed.  I have found the more you play with them the worse they get so I leave it alone.  I start this on top of the base rim at the back where the center of the hinge would be.  Notice that I'm wearing gloves...fiberglass makes me itchy. 

Best gasket replacement.
Work your way around the rim laying the gasket on top and slightly pressing down into the Permatex. The inner edge of the gasket should be just inside the inner edge of the rim, it should not protrude into the cooking area.
When I get all the way around to where it started, cut the excess gasket off with a pair of sharp scissors so that the gasket ends flush with itself.  There will be a little fluff from the two frayed ends.  I press what I can down into the Permatex and the rest has never been a problem for me.

Once I have the gasket lined up to my satisfaction, I place the dome lid on top and let the adhesive cure for at least one hour.
Step 5 - Put it back together.
Once the gasket has cured, it's time to put the the bands back on.  I line the handle back up with the bottom vent and then secure the bottom band by tightening the bolt just enough to hold it in place.
Aligning a Big Green Egg dome and tightening the bolts on a BGE
Finally it's time to put the dome lid back on and make sure it is aligned dead center.  These guides from Big Green Egg make that a little easier but I've done it without them.  Just look straight down and make sure it is centered.

Once aligned, I tighten both band bolts.  First,  I press up lightly on the upper band and tighten the bolt just enough to hold it securely in place.  Stop there and double check that your alignment is still good.  Then I finish tightening the lower bolt. I don't have a torque wrench so I just tighten it until I see the bolt start to bend.  Then I finish tightening the top band the same way.

Finally I do the "dollar bill" test to make sure that I don't have air gaps anywhere in the seal.  Just stick a dollar on the gasket and shut the lid.  Try to pull the dollar out and you should feel resistance.  Do those spot checks all around the kamado.  If it just slips out without effort, you've got an alignment issue.  Loosen the bolts, re-align the dome, retighten and try it again.

Ready to go back into the grill rotation. I'll use it a few times before its next BBQ competition in about 2 weeks.

Standard FTC Disclaimer:  I received no compensation for this post and paid full price for the supplies mentioned.