Your 11 Point Checklist:
1. Check With Your Local Fire Dept.
To discover whether or not any codes or ordinances 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 site, to fuel you selected gas ring size. To do this you will need to know:
- The BTU rating of your proposed fire pit ring/burner
- The distance along the route ( not as the crow flies ) the gas line will have to travel from where you connect into the gas supply to the fire pit location.
With this information, you can now calculate the size of the gas line that you will need to get enough gas to the fire pit to supply your burner. See our article Gas Piping Size For Fire Pits to see how this is done.
Please note that this is not something even an experienced DIY'er should do. Hire an experienced plumber or certified gas technician to make these calculations for you.
Remember the height of your fire pit flame is dependent 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 a standard 20 lb propane tank.
Having resolved the gas pressure question, and are confident of getting a decent flame, you can now move forward with the final design of your fire pit.
3. Burner Size Relative To Fire Pit Size
Leave a minimum of 3 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 your fire pit needs to be at least 24 inches + 6 inches ( 2 x 3”), a minimum of 30“ 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 at least 2” below the top level of the fire pit structure, to protect the flame from the wind, and prevent it from 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 36 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.)
For example, two 3 x 6” ventilation holes placed on opposite sides of the structure. Any combination of sizes can be used as long as it adds up to 36" in total. It is also wise to cover these vent holes with some form of a grill to stop vermin getting into 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 burner pan 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 to 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 all of the manufacturers' recommendations into your final design.
( 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 for burner trays and the burners. Some burners are manufactured from brass and this is also equally durable.
Some Additional Points:
Building a great gas fire pit is ultimately is about good flame height.
About 90% of the inquiries we get on our helpline are about flame height or lack of. About 90% of those inquiries, 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 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.
Using a 20 lb Propane Gas Bottle
Hopefully, we have made the point that the flame height and your gas pit are directly linked to the available gas pressure. If you have opted to use a 20 lb propane gas bottle as your fuel source. You may find the following helpful when choosing the size of your burner.
If you connect a 12" diameter standard burner to a full 20 lb bottle of propane and light it, you will get a flame about 18" tall, which is a decent flame height. If you connect an 18" diameter burner to a full 20 lb bottle of propane and light it, you will get about a 12" flame. This shows us that you don't get bigger flames from bigger gas burners unless you can increase the amount of gas.
It is also helpful to know that the 12" burner will empty that bottle of gas ( on full throttle ) in about 4 1/2 hours. Whereas the 18" burner on full throttle will empty the bottle in less than 3 hours! See our article 'How long before your Fire Pit empties the gas bottle'.
We highly recommend using the fire pit tray designs shown in our diagrams, as they make the installation as easy as it could be. The Magic Of Fire.com carries the complete range of ‘drop-in’ fire pit kits manufactured by several of the top manufacturers.
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 civilized 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.