A House In The Sky And Other Uncommon Animal Homes The Ingenuity of Fire Pits: Tips on Buying, Use, and Safety Precautions

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The Ingenuity of Fire Pits: Tips on Buying, Use, and Safety Precautions

I know you’ve already felt it: a cool lull in the summer night and the fading of our safe blue sky that comes earlier and earlier. With Summer fast approaching and a cool Fall on its way, it’s time to fire up the fireplace and brace yourself for colder and colder temperatures. But don’t start beating the lids just yet! With the ever-increasing popularity of outdoor fireplaces, you can extend summer and fall nights in comfort and enjoy the beauty of nature a little longer and a lot warmer!

Now…how do you know what type of fire pit is best for your needs and lifestyle? Should you use wood or gas? What shape or design should you look for? And most importantly, how can you ensure that your new outdoor bonfire is maintained and used safely? A fire pit is not a fireplace and not a campfire: it’s a completely different animal. That’s why we’ve included important tips on distinguishing between types, shapes, functions and costs, as well as including essential safety tips for your fireplace.

· Permanent or removable?

Before you start researching outdoor fire pits, you should first check your city or county ordinance to make sure they allow fire pits, what type of fire pits, and what the safety parameters are. Once that’s done, your first step is to decide whether you can benefit more from a portable fire pit or one that’s permanent. Portable fire pits are usually made of light metal (Mexican fireplaces are made of clay or cast iron) and have a round design. These come with wheels for easy on-the-go activities as well as backyard or backyard use. With this versatility, you can easily move your fire pit to your deck, patio, different areas of your backyard or garage. Another invaluable bonus is that you don’t have to leave the warmth of the bread at home. Pack it in the truck or SUV for the annual camping trip or take it on the way to a beach holiday. Because portables are made of lighter materials and require no installation to use, they are the most economical and hassle-free way to fight the post-summer chill: both on the road and in your own backyard.

A permanent fire pit (or custom-designed backyard or patio fire pit), otherwise known as a custom-built or stationary fire pit unit, is made of stone, brick, rock, or concrete; and for most, they are the most aesthetically pleasing addition to a patio or yard. Custom built fire pits should be raised 1-2 feet off the ground and have a midway diameter of approximately 36 inches for ample use and safety. Like portables, you can choose between wood or gas to heat the desired area, but most products are energy specific, so be sure to double check before you buy. In general, custom-built fire pits are much more expensive, due to the professional installation, attention to design, and heavy, long-lasting materials required; but it will last you a lifetime (with proper and regular maintenance), and will definitely provide a capital increase in the value of your home.

· Design and shape?

The design and shape of your outdoor fire pit usually depends on whether you opt for portable or stationary outdoor fire pits. More often than not, portables will be made of metal or copper, have a large round bowl design, and be placed in a metal stand. The wood will be placed in this bowl – either if you choose a gas burner, ceramic logs or fake burning coals – and the removable protective screen is placed on top. As mentioned before, portables are more about function than design, so their options are somewhat limited. Fireplaces also fall into the portable category, with the antique look of a wood-burning stove, but because they are smaller and allow heat to radiate outside, they are less practical. Custom built or permanent fire pits, on the other hand, come in a multitude of shapes and designs, due to the fact that you have the unit professionally installed. Typically, you can find these fixtures in round, square or rectangular configurations depending on your chosen material (brick, stone, wood or concrete) and they come equipped with an integrated steel side wall and doors metal closure for improved protection when not in use.

· Wood or Gas?

Both portable and permanent fire pits will require either wood, gas, or both. If the fire pit you have your eye on prefers wood exclusively, it’s more important to find out what kind of wood. Some fire pits will exclusively burn regular logs of firewood (old wood is always a better choice than new or green wood), and so you’ll just be buying the same kind of cords you would buy for a fireplace. To avoid safety hazards and the general upkeep of your fire pit, you should never attempt to burn a crushed wood or fire log (quick light enclosed with paper). The reason is; that because fire logs are made of sawdust materials, they will burn hotter than a fire pit made for cordwood can handle. However, some fire pits will offer the versatility of burning wood, crushed wood, and fire logs; in its safety specifications. Just remember that, unlike ordinary wood, only one firebox should be burning at a time. Also note that if a fire pit’s specifications allow pressed wood, it will be able to burn somewhat comparable to fire studs. The alternative to the wood fire is the gas connection. Gas will burn cleaner than wood, uses ceramic logs and fake coals, and can give you an almost real look and warmth for your driveway or patio. The only drawback with gas-powered outdoor heat is that it requires more attention and constant attention, due to the limitless supply of combustible energy.

· Costs?

Cost is always an important factor to consider when looking for an outdoor fire pit. Portable fire pit units are the simplest and most cost-effective solution for your outdoor heating. Depending on the various features and supplies the portable comes with, it usually ranges from $150 to $500. This is due to the fact that your portable fire pit is constructed of lighter and therefore less durable materials for easy transport; and it doesn’t require the costly installation that a permanent or custom-built fire pit does. Portables are the perfect investment for people who want an outdoor, low-maintenance fire; but either can’t handle the solid structure of a custom build, or has yet to find a relatively permanent home to properly reap the long-term benefits. Custom-built or permanent fire pits will require heavy, all-weather materials such as stone, brick, concrete or wood; and usually require a space in your backyard of 15-20 meters wide. Because of their lifetime durability and the varying needs of backyard landscaping, professional installation is quite labor intensive and can run you thousands. However, it all depends on your particular situation. For most homeowners, lifetime durability and anticipated use usually outweigh cost. But if cost is an issue, portables are the quick, easy, and cost-effective solution to your outdoor heating needs.

· Safety hazards and precautions

We all love a good fire, but it is essential to remember that it is a fire; and if we don’t take proper safety precautions and observe specific fire hazards, your fire pit can get out of control, leading to property damage, illness, and possibly death.

  • Always follow the specifications and guidance of the manufacturer and professional installation expert for which power source to use.
  • Fire pits should not be used in apartment buildings or multi-unit home decks due to cleaning issues.
  • Make sure your permanent is installed a good distance from your home and anything combustible (usually your installer will automatically include this common sense issue, but if not, make sure it’s a good ten meters).
  • Be sure to place your portable fire pit at least ten feet away from the house, various backyards, and trees, ie. anything combustible. Also, with portable fire pits, it is necessary to gauge placement according to wind patterns and where the smoke will blow.
  • Do not fill your fireplace with wood or wood substitutes; or vice versa, over-gas. Keep the fire small, contained and manageable.
  • Always use a screen protector to keep sparks and embers at bay.
  • It is necessary to note how close your fire pit is to the ground. Elevation 1-2 feet from a non-flammable surface will keep a small to medium fire in a safe space, but remember it’s the perfect height from unsuspecting and curious children and pets, so supervision from close is essential.
  • Always make sure your fire is completely out before leaving it unattended. Even with proper safety clearance, a spark can become a raging fire in a split second and reach all corners of your deck and backyard in no time.
  • It is also imperative to take a fire extinguisher because you are playing with fire otherwise.
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