Although you may use your fire pit occasionally during the summer, it really gets a workout when the temperatures start to drop in the fall. There’s just something about the warmth of a fire, and watching the dancing flames. But just like any open fire, you need to keep safety and basic maintenance in mind to ensure the best experience.
Let’s get started with some safety tips.
Fire Pit Safety
Everyone in your family over the age of 15 should know how to light a fire pit and how to put out a fire pit safely. While you may be the one who does it most frequently, other people should know-how. Have them watch you, and then let them try under your supervision.
And be sure to teach younger family members about fire pit safety – look, but don’t touch! You don’t want anyone to get burned. Small children should ALWAYS be supervised around a fire pit.
How to Light a Fire Pit
If you have a gas fire pit, lighting it may be as simple as pushing a button or hitting a switch. Be sure to read your owner’s manual.
For a wood-burning fire pit, lighting it and keeping it going is still pretty easy, but you need to follow some basic rules.
- Place easy burning tinder such as twigs and leaves along with crumpled newspaper in the bottom of the bowl, and light with a long match or long lighter.
- Allow the twigs to catch fire, and slowly add larger twigs and branches to the fire. Once the fire is going well, you can add larger logs or split wood. Use wood tongs as needed.
- Never use an accelerant such as lighter fluid or gasoline.
- Don’t burn plastics or wood like pine.
- Never leave the fire unattended.
- Use a spark screen to keep embers from floating away and landing on people or dry grass.
- Enjoy the fire!
How to Put Out a Fire Pit
Once the party or outdoor gathering is over, you will need to put the fire out. For a gas fire pit, simply turn off the gas.
For a wood-burning fire pit, you can do this in a couple of ways.
- Let the fire burn out naturally. Stop feeding the fire with new wood well before you intend to retire for the night.
- If you’re in a hurry, you can use sand to smother the fire.
- Never extinguish your fire pit fire with water. This will damage it.
- Allow the ashes to cool overnight.
The next step is to perform regular fire pit maintenance. You can do this the morning after you’ve had a fire, and check things again before each use. Keep reading to learn what you need to do to keep your fire pit looking good and performing well.
Fire Pit Maintenance
For a wood-burning fire, you need to know how to handle and what to do with fire pit ashes. After letting them cool overnight, use a metal shovel to scoop the ashes into a metal bucket with a lid, much like the one you might have for a wood-burning fireplace.
Once the ashes are totally cooled, you can dispose of them, or use them to amend the soil in your garden.
And if you use a cooking grate on your fire pit, be sure to clean it after every use. This helps you avoid buildup on the grate and on the edge of the fire pit.
For a gas fire pit, you will need to regularly inspect the burner, gas line, connections, and fittings. Make sure they are tight and clear of debris.
Don’t burn anything but gas. Burning twigs, leaves, paper, or wood in a gas fire pit can damage the burner and could also lead to a fire that gets out of control.
Use a Fire Pit Cover
Whether you still have a portable fire pit, or you have a built-in fire pit, invest in a quality fire pit cover like the PiTTopper®. This will protect your fire pit bowl from rain and snow, and it’s attractive to boot.
By following these safety and maintenance tips, you and your family can enjoy your fire pit for years to come!
Dream It. Build It. Live It.
If you’re ready for a new fixed fire pit, or to upgrade from a rusty portable fire pit, set up a consultation by filling out the contact form or calling us at 301.720.1000. We design and build custom fire pits to complement the rest of your outdoor living space, using the highest quality materials. Frequently, our clients add a fire pit as part of a larger patio or outdoor kitchen project.
For examples of our work, check out our Portfolio. We work with homeowners throughout the Capital Region, including Maryland, DC, and Northern Virginia.