A gas fire pit on the back patio is a great way to enjoy the ambience of an outdoor fire without the dangers of burning wood. But just because you're using gas doesn't mean you're in the clear concerning safety. First check the local jurisdiction's laws regarding backyard fire pits. Then read these outdoor fire pit safety tips to keep your gas fire pit burning free of hazards.
Choose the right placement
You'll want to set up your gas fire pit in an area well away from adjacent walls or building overhangs. Also make sure the area is free of combustible materials and on a noncombustible surface. Move all wicker patio furniture, cleaning fluids, brooms, leaves, and other outdoor debris off the patio. If you're interested in setting the pit on your wooden deck, make sure to purchase a pedestal-style pit, raised up on feet to allow for appropriate heat ventilation. Even if the fire pit is a pedestal-style, consider positioning a noncombustible surface below it, especially if it's set on a wooden deck. Keep an eye out for low-hanging branches or drooping power lines overhead, and place the pit clear of them.
An outdoor fire pit should only be used outdoors. Lighting one inside can be a fire hazard and also increase the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Before you buy your pit, check its BTU (British thermal units) rating: A normal range is anywhere between 40,000-60,000 BTUs. The higher the BTUs, the bigger the fire. If possible, test out the pit beforehand to see the size of the flame it will produce. Remember to factor in how winds in your backyard can increase the flame's size.
Keep it covered and maintained
Even though gas burns cleaner than wood, you'll still need to check the burner periodically and keep it free from obstructions. Clean the burner with a soft brush if it is dirty.
When not in use, the pit should stay covered. Spiders and bugs can find a way in and end up clogging your burner. Rainwater can destroy porous ceramic objects like the simulated logs atop the pit.
Gas fire pit don'ts
- Don't leave a gas fire pit unattended while it's lit.
- Don't let children play close to the pit.
- Don't line a pit with tin foil.
- Don't cook in the pit, unless you've bought one specifically designed for cooking.
- Don't put anything in the pit that isn't approved by the manufacturer. Rocks, glass, and simulated ceramic logs should be fire-pit approved.