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The Importance of Having Fire Pits

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Savvy homeowners are gearing more into outdoor living.  Outdoor kitchens, flower beds, and swimming pools with spas took over the once popular wooden decks and grills.  But it is the fire pit that is in high demand- illuminating evening sky across the country.  Note that it is essential to select the right fire pit based on available space, budget and, most important, local ordinances.  So, if you are dreaming of crisp, moonlit nights with toasted marshmallows- then wake up, think what you want, and then start planning.

First on your list is the cost.  According to Angie’s List, it all adds up when you add seating and other amenities.  There are some who pay as little as $200.00 for a small fire pit (if you plan on buying your stones and dig the hole yourself).  But that “small pit” can cost you more than what you spent.  It is better to ask for an estimate from a construction company that can ensure a well-built fire pit for your money.

Permanent or Portable Fire Pits?

Another critical point is whether you want a permanent or a portable fire pit.  As you plan, you may want to think about permanence.  Always ask yourself if you want a built-in fire pit or a focal point in the yard. A built-in design not only matches your garden or the house, but it is also as personal as you customize it with the help of a designer or contractor.  You can enjoy that step to step process that starts with the “design in mind” to the finishing product.   Remember that you have to make sure to use proper stones and materials that shouldn’t splinter when the fire heats up.

Gas or Wood Fire Pits?

Now here is a question you should ask:  wood or gas?  Those who favor a right outdoor smell prefer burning real logs.  If that’s the case, make sure you have a screen and a steady supply of wood.  Others prefer gas or propane for an instant fire with a remote switch. It may not be as hot as wood fire, and it won’t crackle and smoke.  Then again, there are dual-fuel fire pits that let you do both.  Remember to keep in mind that budget is the key.

Location Is Key

Another point is Location!  Location!  Location!  Many communities require a minimum 10-foot distance from your house and neighbors’ yards. Others don’t need a permit if the fire pit fits within set size requirements.  Some states require a site inspection from fire officials to ensure the proposed location is safe (away from fences, structures, overhanging branches, etcetera). And, some cities, like Denver, have bans on open fires.  Check with local officials before you purchase or start planning a fire pit.

Safety First

Also, remember that safety comes first.  A fire of any kind, no matter the size, requires serious attention to safety.  The National Fire Protection Association offers the following fire pit safety advice:

  • Check wind direction before you light a fire.
  • Don’t use flammable fluids (gasoline, lighter fluid, etc.) to light or relight fires.
  • Don’t wear flammable clothing (like nylon) or any loose-fitting clothing.
  • Avoid using soft woods like pine or cedar, because they can “pop” and throw sparks.
  • Make sure to keep children and pets at least 3 feet away from the fire.

It’s also important to know how to safely dispose of the ashes when you’re done with the fire for the night.   If you happen to live in an area prone to wildfires, you should close your fire pit as a requirement of your homeowner’s insurance.  Check with an insurance agent to understand any potential impact a fire pit may have on your coverage.