Your 11 Point Check List:
1. Check With Your Local Fire Dept.
To discover which codes may apply to a gas fire pit installation in your area, and if the finished installation needs an inspection by the Fire Dept. ( Find Your Local Fire Dept. )
( Failure to comply with the local codes, may invalidate your home/property insurance, if a claim were to be made in respect to damage caused by your fire pit.)
2. Utilizing Your Domestic Gas Supply
If you're proposing to use your domestic gas supply, it is vital to check that it will generate enough gas pressure at the fire pit location, to fuel you selected gas ring size. You will need to know:
- the BTU rating of your chosen fire pit ring/burner,
- the distance the gas will have to travel from where you connect into the gas supply to the fire pit location,
- the pressure of your domestic gas supply at the point where you connect into it.
(If you don’t know how to do this then you are probably not a gas technician, and so now’s the time to get hold of one. Do this BEFORE you purchase any equipment and you will avoid wasting money and massive disappointment at the ‘puny’ flame in your fire pit.)
Remember the height of your fire pit flame is dependant on the gas pressure at the burner.
It is entirely possible that your domestic gas supply will not have enough pressure to give you a good flame height. If your gas supply cannot be adapted to provide such pressure ( discuss this with your gas technician ), then consider using bottled gas.
Having resolved the gas pressure question, and are confident of getting a decent flame, you can now move forward with final design of your fire pit.
3. Burner Size Relative To Fire Pit Size
Leave a minimum of 4 inches on all sides between the gas fire pit burner and the inside dimension of your fire pit structure. e.g if you have chosen ( and have sufficient gas pressure for ) a 24 diameter burner, then the inside of diameter of you fire pit needs to be at least 24 inches + 4 inches on all sides ( 2 x 4”), a minimum of 32 “ diameter.
This gap will prevent the heat from the burner potentially cracking the stone or other material that your fire pit is constructed from.
4. Hide The Burner From The Wind
It is highly recommended to set your burner about 2” below the top level of the fire pit structure, to protect the flame from the wind, and prevent it getting blown out.
All gas fire pit structures must have through ventilation, to prevent an accumulation of gas in the event of a gas leak, and to prevent overheating of the gas components. The recommended size of ventilation is 32 sq inches in total, to be divided between opposite sides of the fire pit. ( This may differ in your area, check with your local fire dept.) This translates to two 4 x 4” ventilation holes placed on opposite sides of the structure.
Important Note, if using propane this ventilation must be at the base of the structure, because propane gas is heavier than air, and will therefore collect at the bottom of the fire pit structure.
6. Gas Holes Up
If using Propane, you must install the burner with the gas holes facing upwards.
7. Air Mixer Valve
If using propane you need an air mixer valve ( should be supplied with the propane kit as standard ) .This mixes oxygen into the propane before it burns, and helps the propane to burn cleaner, and more economically.
We always recommend some form of cover for, at the minimum, the burner area of your fire pit to avoid water from collecting in the drop in tray, when not in use. This is particularly important for propane burners. Rain or irrigation water can easily and quickly fill your drop in tray which is not good. Before installing your tray check to see it has drainage holes in the bottom of the tray, if not just drill a few holes to allow the water run out of the tray.
Your fire pit structure needs to have some form of drainage at its base, to prevent water collecting. This may also be a requirement of the local codes, remember to check with your local Fire Dept.
9. Emergency Shut Off Valve
Your gas fire pit must have a key valve ( an emergency shut off valve ) incorporated in its structure, so remember to allow for this in the design, the key valve should be part of the kit if you are buying it from a reputable company. Also if you are installing a push button spark ignition system, this will be installed next to the key valve.
10. Follow The Manufacturers Installation Guide
As you have already confirmed that you have sufficient gas pressure to ‘power’ your fire pit burner, it is at this point we recommend that you purchase the equipment you have provisionally selected. That way you can safely and confidently incorporate into your final design, all of the manufacturers recommendations.
( Any statutory inspection by the Fire Dept. of the completed installation, will almost certainly require that the manufacturers installation recommendations are followed to the letter. Do not be tempted to deviate from them.)
11. Outdoors - Use Stainless Steel Products
For a long lasting and trouble free installation of outdoor fire pits, always use Stainless Steel products.
Some Additional Points:
Building a great gas fire pit is ultimately is about good flame height.
About 90% of the enquiries we get on our help line are about flame height, or lack there of. About 90% of those enquiries, the people are using their domestic gas supply, and about 90% of those clients did not use the services of a gas technician.
We can not not emphasize enough that flame height is about gas pressure at the fire pit burner.
Many people bulk at the extra expense of having to pay a Gas Technician, but unless you have the appropriate background, you can't just link into your domestic gas supply and expect to get good flame height. You are going to spend several hundred dollars on your fire pit kit, make sure you have the gas pressure to get good flame height, get the advice of a qualified gas technician.
If you are using bottled Liquid Propane gas as your fire pit fuel, you should not encounter any pressure related issues with your installation. Unless, see the following....
As I was writing this, a client called me up, and said Mark you've sold me all this great kit, I've put everything together and I've got no flame, whats going on here? I could not understand why this would be. This guy was using bottled propane, so there should be no gas pressure issues. So with him on his mobile phone by the fire pit, and me on my phone a thousand miles away, we went through the installation from gas bottle to fire pit, stage by stage. (Wouldn't you know, I should have started at the other end!) So everything seemed okay, and the last item to check was the Air Mixer Valve, and then it hit me, I asked him 'which way is the arrow on the air mixer valve pointing', he told me it was pointing back to the Key Valve. Would you like to take that off, and turn it end on end so the arrow points in the direction of the gas flow, I asked. Next I heard a yelp over the phone, and then he says, he nearly singed his eyebrows. I'm guessing you've got a flame now, then!
We highly recommend using the fire pit tray designs shown in our diagrams, as they make the installation as easy as could be. The Magic Of Fire.com carry the complete range of ‘drop-in’ fire pit kits manufactured by American Fireglass. Using 304 grade Stainless Steel these products are supplied with a five year warranty direct from the manufacturer. They are supplied in Natural Gas or Propane versions and with a push button spark ignition system, which is the civilised way to light your fire pit.
Check out some of our fire pit kits here.
There is nothing overly complicated about building a gas fire pit, but there are a few simple steps and procedures you need to follow, and get the appropriate advice from an expert.
Please remember to use your fire pit responsibly.