Fire pits are great for giving your home an outdoor lounge area where you can relax, spend time with friends, and maybe even do some light cooking. But safety is key when it comes to enjoying your outdoor fire pit and the first part of this is knowing how far away from your house it should be.
In general, your fire pit should be at least 10 feet from your house to maintain a safe distance. That said, you should also check any city ordinances you may fall under. Some areas may require you to build your fire pit even further from your house. You want to stay safe and avoid breaking any rules.
There are also some other things to consider when building an outdoor fire pit. It’s not just your house you have to think about. Distance from any propane tanks, AC units, trees, and other decorations is also important for safety. In addition, you’ll want to think about weather and the actual construction of your fire pit.
Let’s talk about how you can keep an outdoor fire pit at a good distance and the safest ways to build one.
Keep Distance Between Your Fire Pit and Other Objects
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Of course, you want a fire pit that looks great but your number one priority needs to be building it in a safe location. Again, it should be at least 10 feet away from your house. You might need to build it even further away if there are any special ordinances, though.
This 10-foot rule also applies with anything else that happens to be near the fire pit. For instance, any outdoor propane tanks or AC units should be at least 10 feet from the fire pit. You’ll also want to avoid having it less than 10 feet away from any trees or decorative items. Be careful about any branches or other hanging objects as well.
Obviously, many people like to sit in chairs and have other pieces of furniture near their fire pit. When you’re right there, this is perfectly fine. Just make sure you’re on the lookout for any stray embers that land on anything. However, when you’re not using chairs, tables, etc., keep them at this 10-foot distance from the fire pit. It’s harder to pay attention to furniture when you’re not using it and this just keeps you from having to deal with any issues. Also consider placing a covering over your fire pit when you’re not using it.
One other thing to consider here is the weather. Even if your fire pit is all by itself, 10 feet away from everything else, certain weather conditions can still cause embers to fly through the air. For instance, lighting up the fire pit on a super windy day is definitely not recommended. All it takes is one ember to catch on a gust of wind and fly over to your house. A general rule is just don’t use the fire pit if there’s bad weather.
Build a Base for the Fire Pit
Some people prefer to dig a hole for their fire pit but you don’t necessarily need to do this. As long as the fire pit is oversized, meaning it is larger than the actual fire will be, you’ll be just fine.
The first thing you’ll want to do is create the base for your fire pit. Many people use fire pit liners to get started. These can be made out of a variety of materials, like steel or other metals, concrete, and stone. These help keep the pit intact and prevent any underground root fires which can spread throughout your yard.
Once you get this in place, you’ll need to fill the bottom of the fire pit. Sand is your best option here, since it absorbs heat well and helps maintain a good temperature distribution throughout the pit. You should have about 2-6 inches of filler material in your fire pit.
There are other options, such as rocks, but you have to be really careful about what kind you get. Some rocks can actually explode if they get too hot. As you can imagine, your house and any surrounding furniture may not hold up very well to exploding rocks.
Your fire pit should be about 12-20 inches tall and have a width of about 8 inches. This gives you enough room to have a small seating area but also ensures that the fire stays contained to the pit.
Use Your Fire Pit Safely
Now that you have the fire pit built securely and at a safe distance from the house, you need to know how to use it properly. First, choose your wood carefully. Although most wood is safe to burn, hardwoods are better choices since they take longer to burn and don’t produce as much smoke. Using dry wood is going to be more successful, though wood may still be able to burn even if it is a little damp.
You’ll also want to build the fire slowly so that you can keep it under control. Stack the wood in a way that allows ventilation between the logs. If you have air pockets closed off in the middle of the log pile, the hot air could lead to a small explosion when it tries to escape the pile. As you build the fire, you can add logs to these open spaces. Just don’t close any off completely. You can also blow on the fire to help build it.
There are certain materials you need to avoid at all costs. Never burn anything man made or treated wood in your fire pit. You don’t know what kinds of chemicals reactions you’ll get and it isn’t always fun to find out. Also avoid using gasoline or lighter fluid. Though tempting, this kind of fire can get out of control very quickly. And never burn any trash, leftovers, or yard clippings in your fire pit.
Put Out the Fire Completely When You’re Done
Always keep some sand or a garden hose near you when burning. Even though you’ve kept the pit at a safe distance from your house, you will still end up with floating embers. Sand or water can be used to put out the embers and ensure that they aren’t a threat.
Always put the fire out completely when you’re done. Be careful about pouring a lot of water on as the drastic temperature change can cause cracks and bursts in any wood or metal you have in the pit, such as the liner that you used. Instead, let the fire burn out on its own and then spread the ashes carefully in the pit, letting them cool off for a bit. Use a small amount of water and lightly drizzle it over the ashes until everything has been put out.
Now you should have all of the information you need to get your fire pit started. Just make sure you build the fire pit at least 10 feet from your house and any other objects. Use the right building materials and follow our safety instructions to kick back and enjoy your fire pit.
Fire pits are a lot of fun. They’re a great place for gatherings and you can even cook on them. The key is making sure you use them safely so you can continue having fun.