If you’ve noticed that your barbecue isn’t performing quite as well as it did last summer, it may be time for a new one or some replacement parts. According to the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association, most people shop for a new barbecue every three years. If you purchased a high-quality model, stored it properly during the winter and always keep it protected from rain, it should last up to five years or more before you need to start replacing parts.

But age shouldn’t be the only factor you use when determining if it’s time for a new grill. You should also test for gas leaks a few times a season. Do this by mixing a few drops of dish soap with water in a spray bottle and spraying it over the connections and hose. Turn on the tank. If there are any spots that bubble up, you’ve got a leak. You may be able to tighten the connections to fix the problem, but bubbling along the hose means a replacement is necessary.

Next check your burners, which are the most commonly replaced barbecue part. If you have uneven flames, visible corrosion or have noticed “hot spots” in your barbecue, it’s probably time to replace the burners.

Finally, take a look at the firebox and grates. You can use a stiff wire brush to clean these parts, but any cracks, major rust or corrosion indicate that it’s time to replace your barbecue.

If you do decide to buy a new barbecue, the options can be overwhelming. They come in many different types, sizes and price ranges. Should you choose gas or charcoal? Gas or propane barbecues start with the touch of a button and heat up twice as fast as charcoal. They provide instant heat and are ideal for outdoor grilling for busy families. Gas grills can run on both natural gas or propane. Natural gas is cheaper and cleaner than propane but not all homes have gas barbecue hook-ups.

Charcoal barbecues take longer to heat up so they are not ideal for cooking a quick meal. However, some purists say they offer a full-bodied, char-grilled flavour to food that you just don’t get from a gas grill. They are best for when you have the time to enjoy the slow cooking experience.