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Considering adding a fire pit to your backyard?

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Overview

Published: 03/16/2018 by Home Pros Guide

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Fire pits are more than just beautiful features for outdoor spaces, they are vehicles for bringing people together. Few things are more fundamental, or more enjoyable, than sitting around an open fire with family and friends.Of course, a fire pit can be had without spending too much.

Because styles, sizes and materials abound, your choices should be based on your space at hand, budget and, of course, local ordinances. Some municipalities ban open burning of any kind.

Here’s what else to consider before planning a fire pit: 

Permanent or Portable?

You may want to think in terms of permanence. Do you want a fire pit that is built in  a focal point in the yard  or something that’s lightweight and potentially portable, so you can take it where you want your gathering. 

Regardless of which style you choose, you need to make sure that you’re using proper stones and materials, something that shouldn’t splinter when the fire heats up. Make it proportional to the size of your yard, and be sure you have room for seating and circulation.

Wood or Gas?

Some fire pits use gas or propane for an instant fire — maybe even powered with a remote switch — though it’s not as hot as a wood fire and you don’t get the same crackle and smoke. Some dual-fuel fire bowls and tables let you do both; and you can design a built-in fire pit to do the same.

What to Set It On?

It’s best to set a portable fire pit atop a natural surface such as concrete, stone, gravel, brick or slate or on a fire-resistant composite. Putting it on a wood deck can be dangerous if embers fly. A permanent fire pit is typically built on a base of gravel somewhere in the backyard.

Where is the Right Location for Your Fire Pit?

Many communities require a minimum of a 10-foot distance from your house and neighbors’ yards. Some don’t require a permit if the fire pit fits within set size requirements; others require a site inspection from local fire officials to help make sure your proposed location is safe. And, some communities have outright bans on open fires.  Check with local officials before you purchase or start planning a fire pit.

What Safety Tips Should I Keep in Mind?

A fire of any kind — no matter the size — demands serious attention to safety. 

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 that you know how to safely dispose of the ashes when you’re done with the fire for the night.