Building a Gas Fire Pit – Checklist

Building A Fire Pit
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Building a Gas Fire Pit – Checklist

If you’re planning a DIY fire pit project, here is our 11-point checklist. Building a DIY gas fire pit is not complicated, but make sure you have the following points covered and questions answered.

  1. Is My Fire Pit Project Subject to Local Codes?
  2. How much Gas do I have for my fire pit?
  3. Is my Fire Pit Burner Compatible with my Gas Supply?
  4. Set the Fire Pit Burner out of the wind.
  5. Ensure that the fire pit enclosure is sufficiently ventilated.
  6. Are the gas jets in my burner facing up?
  7. Does my Fire Pit need an air mixer valve?
  8. Does my fire pit structure have drainage?
  9. Install a Fire Pit Emergency Shut Off Valve.
  10. Have I followed the manufacturers’ instructions?
  11. Are the burner and tray manufactured from stainless steel

Is My Fire Pit Project Subject to Local Codes?

Firemans Helmet

Whether it’s a DIY project or you have a contractor doing the work for you, the project may be subject to local codes. To quickly discover if your fire pit project will be subject to local codes you can contact your local Fire Dept. because these are the guys who will be signing off on the project when it is done. Find your local Fire Dept. here.

If you don’t do this, you may buy equipment that does not comply with the Codes in your area and will be unacceptable to the inspector!

How Much Gas Do I Have?

At the heart of every good fire pit is the gas supply. Whatever gas source you choose, you need to establish how much gas it can deliver to your fire pit. You will need to consult a qualified gas technician to calculate how much spare capacity your system has, and what size gas line you will need to run to your fire pit. You can find your nearest National Fireplace Institute gas technician here.

If your domestic gas supply or gas storage tanks do not have any spare capacity, then you could use the small (20 lb) propane tank option

A 20 lb propane tank has about 400,000 Btu’s / per hour maximum output. Therefore if you want to use a 100,000 BTU-rated burner, the gas bottle will empty in about 4 hours. Choose a 50,000 BTU-rated burner and the bottle will last about 8 hours.

Remember a bigger burner will not give you a bigger flame unless you can supply it with sufficient gas.

Is my Fire Pit Burner Compatible with my Gas Supply?

At this point, your Gas Technician will have given you a BTU figure or a range available from your gas source. Now you can order one of the many burner kits on the market, and ensure that the BTU rating of the burner matches or is within the BTU range your Gas technician gave you. We would also recommend utilizing a burner pan to simplify the whole installation process.

Have I set the burner out of the wind?

It is highly recommended to set the burner at least two inches below the top of the fire pit structure to protect the flame from the wind.

Fire Pit cross section with Drop-In tray for Building a Gas Fire Pit - Checklist Blog Post
A Drop-In Pan sets the burner below the top surface of the fire pit
Cross Section of a typical fire pit with gas connections
Install a Flat Pan below the level of the Fire Pit Structure Walls

Is My Fire Pit Enclosure Ventilated?

All fire pit structures must be ventilated. The minimum requirement is 18 square inches of ventilation located on two opposite sides of the fire pit enclosure (36 square inches in total). As the BTU rating increases so should the amount of ventilation. These vents can be configured as one large vent on each side or several smaller ones as long they total a minimum of 18 square inches on each side. Vent covers should be installed to prevent the little critters from getting into the fire pit structure.

Fire Pit 'Through' Ventilation

The objective here is to create ‘through ventilation’ of the fire pit structure.

For propane installations, these vents should be located as low as possible in the structure, as Propane is heavier than air.

Are the gas jets in my burner facing up?

We have yet to encounter a fire pit ring manufacturer that recommends the burner be installed with the gas holes facing down! Gas holes pointing upwards, please!

Do I need an air mixer Valve?

If you have a propane system and a standard burner, then you must install an Air Mixer Valve at the base of the burner. This is not required for a Natural Gas fire pit.

Air Mixer Valve

Does my fire pit structure have drainage?

When it rains, water inevitably will get into the fire pit enclosure. Ensure that you provide an efficient method for the water to drain out.

Do I have an Emergency Shut Off Valve?

All fire pits must be fitted with an Emergency Gas Shut Off Valve in proximity to the fire pit

Have I followed the manufacturers’ instructions?

Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions!

Are the burner and tray manufactured from stainless steel?

Outdoor fire pits have a tough life with the weather and extreme heat of the burner. Black steel products might not even last a season before they start rotting. Make sure your fire pit burner and tray are manufactured from stainless steel. The best manufacturers warranty their stainless steel burners and pans for at least five years!