What Questions to Ask When Working with a Contractor
Having a custom fire feature installed can be a complex process, and if you're having the work done by a professional, it can often be difficult to communicate your needs and wants with them. Below, we've gathered a set of common questions to ask your landscaper, gas plumber, or other tradespersons to ensure a smooth installation that gives you the best possible experience.
How Do We Ensure the Gas Supply is Correct?
One of the biggest issues we see with gas fire pits is the gas supply does not line up with the needs of the appliance, leading to poor performance. Every gas appliance will have a BTU rating and gas pressure requirements you and your plumber will want to identify. Gas pressure is important, but the pipe size and distance are also integral to ensuring the fire pit has the necessary fuel supply for good performance.
Since gas fire pits are a newer trend, many gas plumbers are not familiar with installing them. Another thing that makes them unusual is that they're typically unregulated. Which means, they don't have a factory installed regulator unlike standard household appliances like a gas stove. This is mostly due to location & use - unlike a stove which will always be installed near an existing line, a fire pit could be 10 feet from your house or 100 feet from your house. So, regulating the gas supply needs more planning.
Our guide for choosing fire pit components is a great place to start.
What is the gas pressure?
Nearly all fire pits run on low pressure - between 3.5 and 7 inches of Water Column for Natural Gas, or between 8 and 11 inches Water Column for Propane (around 1/4 PSI for Natural Gas and 1/2 PSI for Propane). Sometimes higher pressure can be run through the gas line, but it must be regulated to low pressure before connecting to the fire pit otherwise damage or leaks can occur.
Will the fire pit comply with all codes and regulations?
There are both national and local codes and regulations to consider. This is why we suggest having a professional plumber run the gas line and make all connections. It also impacts which fire pit or kit you select. While match light ignitions are still one of the most popular options, some areas may require safety-certified kits that have a flame-sensing feature.
Will the fire pit have drainage and ventilation?
Ventilation is required for all fire pits, but it's particularly important when using propane or an electronic system. When it comes down to it, vents are simply holes or gaps in the walls and usually two 6-inch by 3-inch vents are required at minimum.
Fire pits let water pass through and drain inside the fire pit. Oftentimes, water can just soak into the ground below, and if vents are low enough they can also serve as drains for water to escape. Again this is important with electronic systems, as the control box hangs inside the fire pit and shouldn't be in standing water.
Are the gas lines whistle-free?
Most kits and pre-made fire pits will already come with whistle-free flex lines, but normally the installer will provide the line that connects the gas supply to the actual fire pit. If not using rigid metal pipe, it is best to use a stainless steel whistle-free flex line for this connection. The yellow appliance connectors found at box stores are more prone to whistling, so consider purchasing an extra one if you plan on using a flex line for this connection. You can find more detail on the subject in our post about whistling fire pits.
Will the fire pit be made only from non-combustible materials?
There are many options for what material you use to build the fire pit, but only non-combustible products should be used for safety purposes. Stone, brick, and concrete are popular options, and they are available in a variety of colors, textures and styles to ensure you'll find whatever you need to suit your tastes. You can also shop our range of unfinished enclosure kits for a simple, standardized option.
What type of maintenance will be needed?
Fire pit kits should be installed in a manner that makes it accessible for feature maintenance. Oftentimes, this includes making sure the burner pan/plate is not being trapped in by the surrounding stone or block. We want to be able to pull it up and out. Maintenance varies depending on what type of system is used and is a good expectation to be aware of ahead of time. You can find more detail in our checklists for preseason and end-of-season fire pit maintenance. Electronic systems will periodically need the ignitor and/or flame sensor replaced. We recommend turning on the fire pit at least once a month to burn off any moisture.
Contact Us for Any Other Questions
If you or your contractor have questions that we haven't addressed here, our product expert team is available to offer their assistance. You can contact us by phone Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central Time or via email. We're ready and waiting to help you with your next project.