How to Operate Gas Fire Pits
Building gas fire pits is many times more complicated than operating them. Once all of the pieces have been put together, making it all work is as simple as flipping a switch, setting a dial and applying a spark. This article will walk you through the basic procedure involved with operating a gas fire pit, and make some suggestions for maintaining a safe and enjoyable area around your fire pit.
Natural Gas or Propane?
There are two types of gas fire pits: natural gas, and propane fired pits. Natural gas is generally more permanent, and ties directly into the same gas lines your house uses for the hot water heater, furnace or stove. Propane fire pits use bottled gas, and are usually designed to be more portable. If you are using bottled gas, you will probably need a regulator valve that connects between the tank and your fuel lines.
Fun or Functional?
Most experts say that fire pit cooking over a gas fire pit will cause the eventual deterioration of the burner, making repairs necessary sooner than otherwise. If you want to cook out, look into grill add-ons that provide a separate cooking area in the same device. By all means, add a barbecue pit into your fire pit area, just don't try to cook over the burners of the fire pit directly.
Start the Fire
Turn the gas control on to its lowest setting, and start the fire pit ablaze using a long lighter such as you would use to start a fireplace. Once the fire is burning, adjust the control for a higher, hotter flame until you have the desired intensity. This heat and brightness level can be adjusted as needed by turning the knob clockwise for a hotter fire, and the other direction for a cooler one. Some higher-priced models may have remote controls for controlling the fire, or even use multiple burners that can be adjusted independently.
Always keep a chemical fire extinguisher nearby. Gas fires cannot be easily extinguished using a spray of water, possibly even spreading the fire. The best solution for putting out any type of fire is to remove the air from the equation, causing the fire to sort of asphyxiate. The fine powder used in a commercial fire extinguisher will coat all available surfaces where it is sprayed, and make it impossible for the flaming material to get air.
Keep a clear path around the fire pit. This area makes a great place for guests to gather without fear of tripping, and makes it difficult for the fire to get out of control even if it somehow manages to escape the boundaries of the fire pit. A distance of 5 to 10 feet is generally suggested. This area should be equally free of plant material, trip hazards and anything which could cause fire to spread, or a person to trip against the fire pit.