How Long Do Gas Fire Pits Last?
Get the Most Out of Your Investment
A fire pit will last for many years with proper care and maintenance. While stainless steel burners and components are likely to last a lifetime, brass burners can survive even longer than that! Though these products are built to last and designed specifically for outdoor use, there are still some extra steps you can take to ensure you get the most out of your fire pit. Here are some of our tips.
Do Gas Fire Pits Need to Be Covered?
Gas fire pits will always last longer when covered. This is especially important if electronic components like a premium ignition system are involved. As most everyone understands, water and electricity don’t mix well, and while electronic ignition systems are designed to be weather-resistant, it’s detrimental for these products to be regularly covered in water, snow, or debris.
It’s not just electrical components that benefit from a cover, however. By covering a fire pit, its finish will hold up much better, no matter if it's concrete, tile, stucco, glass, or metal. Arguably the most important part of your fire pit, the burner, also benefits from being covered. By keeping your burner free of liquid and debris, you’ll ensure it lasts as long as possible.
Do Gas Fire Pits Need to Be Vented?
All gas fire pits should be vented according to manufacturer instructions. Not only will this keep your fire pit operating properly, but it’s also necessary to ensure safe operation.
Most pre-manufactured pits and tables have venting accounted for in the design, but custom fire pits will need to have ventilation added and installed properly to use the pit safely. Proper venting serves as a way for leaked gasses to escape, a way to get fresh oxygen into the pit, and also helps keep the pit components cool.
Since propane gas is heavier than air, it will sink down into your fire pit enclosure, so the venting will be installed near the bottom of the pit to allow unburnt propane to escape. Natural gas, being lighter than air, is typically placed higher in the pit structure, but still below the pan and burner.
Not installing proper ventilation in the enclosure walls can lead to violent flare-ups due to pooling gasses or failed electronics due to overheating.
What Materials Are Best for a Gas Fire Pit?
One of the best aspects of creating a DIY fire pit is the sheer number of customizable options available. Here are some of the most popular structural materials used in fire pits.
Typically, steel pits are relatively heavy and have a powder-coat or similar finish to keep rust at bay. Steel is very sturdy and can last a long time as long as the finish holds up. Though they are heavy, these fire pits are lighter than their concrete counterparts and remain relatively portable. Weights typically range from 100 pounds to 300 pounds depending on the size of the unit. Steel fire pits will usually have the most finish options in terms of unique colors and looks, as well, making them a popular choice for more adventurous builds.
Aluminum offers a lightweight, low-cost option for many manufacturers and does not corrode like steel pits. However, these fire pits are typically less durable than their steel counterparts. Aluminum pits and tables are typically an imported product, as well. Color schemes can also vary wildly, which means more options to choose from.
GFRC (Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete)
GFRC is a mix of concrete and fiberglass, making it much lighter and much less brittle than traditional pour-in-place concrete. This allows these units to be shipped across the country in a cost-effective way. Additionally, GFRC fire pits are typically offered in an array of colors as well as many shapes and sizes. Though lighter than pour-in-place fire pits, they should not be considered “portable”—weights are usually between 300 to 600 pounds and can be even heavier depending on the size.
Paver blocks offer a lower cost, customizable look with enough durability to stand up to the heat and outdoor elements. There are several finishes and designs on the blocks, and they can be arranged in nearly any way. Another way to build using blocks is to create a basic concrete masonry (CMU) block structure, finish with a stone veneer, and cap with a nice "capstone" or finish stone on the top.
Ready to finish is much like a CMU block structure, but is pre-built using steel studs and concrete board. These structures can be shipped or made on-site and finished with a stone veneer or an applied stucco finish.
Pour-in-place is another common method that involves concrete forms and poured concrete on site, much like one would do with a concrete patio or foundation for a house. They are extremely durable, but they are absolutely permanent and will not have the color variety of other finishes. If durability alone is sought, cast in place might be the best option.
Don’t Use Wood to Build Your Fire Pit
One very common mistake is using wood for the structure or the veneer. Although gas fire pits do not produce as much heat as traditional wood fire pits, the amount of heat generated is still enough to ignite the wood. We’ve heard of several instances where gas fire pits with wood structures have burned down due to extreme heat exposure.
Find More Great Tips on Our Blog
Want more great fire pit tips and advice? Check out our blog for more helpful articles like this one. We’re constantly adding new articles like buying guides, reviews, and troubleshooting guides.
Looking for more personalized assistance? Contact us today to speak with one of our product specialists. Our team can help you with your project from the initial planning stages all the way through your purchase. We’re also here for installation tips should you need our help.
Product Specialist Nate J. contributed to this article.