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By Marc Broussard, ShoppersChoice.com, LLC.Looking to build your own fire pit? You have come to the right place. Our fire pit specialists put together a step-by-step guide on "How to Build a Fire Pit" to make your building process easier. If you still need assistance, feel free to contact our customer service specialists to get help.
If you are building a GAS fire pit we STRONGLY recommend the use of a professional contractor to assist you with setting up the gas connections. The length, width and pressure of your gas line can affect the flame height of your fire pit burner, and your local plumber is trained to diagnose and correct any issues you might have beforehand. In addition, if you need to have a gas line run, they will ensure your lines are buried to the proper depth. Your contractor will also need to make the gas connections, and while this seems like a simple procedure, over tightening or under tightening your connections can cause leaks.
Make sure you've purchased the right size fire pit ring. We know you want the biggest flame possible, but we recommend that you get a fire pit ring that is 12" smaller than the inside diameter of your fire pit. For instance, if your inside diameter is 42", you will need a 30" fire pit ring. This will allow for a safe distance from the edge of the fire pit, as well as help to maintain an aesthetically pleasing look.
While a pan isn't necessary for a fire pit ring to function, it DOES keep excessive debris from potentially clogging the burner nozzles, as well as give the ring adequate support from underneath. Should you need to inspect the gas line in the future, it will also be far easier to access, simply by removing the pan.
Pick the spot in your yard where you want your fire pit to be located. With spray paint, create a circle reflecting the diameter of your choice. Use a yard stick to measure out an even circle. Following the outline you have created, dig a trench 12 inches in depth and 12 inches wide.
NOTE: The time to run your gas line is NOW, as you can't really dig into the ground after the line is run, and its quite difficult to run a gas line into a fire pit that has already been constructed.
Fill the trench with 6 inches of gravel, tightly packed. Compact the gravel using a tamper or the flat side of your shovel. The important idea is to create a sturdy, long-lasting foundation for your fire pit. You can opt for a sturdier, more permanent foundation by adding a layer or self-leveling concrete. Pour half of the concrete into a layer around the trench place some wire mesh on the concrete and sandwich another layer of concrete. Allow the concrete to cure.
There are two different ways to build your outer structure. You can choose to "dry stack" the blocks without mortar -or- you can use mortar. The second option is again, more permanent, and mortar is susceptible to cracking at high temperatures - construction adhesive typically used to secure landscaping stones is unsuitable for this purpose, as it tends to give off fumes when exposed to high temperatures.
NOTE: If you want to build the valve into the fire pit wall, you should plan to do this about half way to two thirds to the top of the fire pit. You may have to chip a corner of the block off so that the gas line can fit through the wall of the fire pit. Similarly, if you are using an electronic ignition or one of our fire pit kits, this is where you will want to make space for the control panel.
When you have finished the last course of block, you can begin to backfill the fire pit. So that water doesn't accumulate around the fire pit ring, you should choose a fill that drains easily, such as pea gravel or sand. Fill the pit 6 inches from the top edge of the fire pit. Leave some space around the stub of the gas line at the top so that you can easily make the connection to the ring.
Place the pan on top of the gravel and have your plumber connect and test the valve and burner. Fill the pit with no more than 2 to 3 inches of lava rock or fire pit glass. For an accurate calculation of how much filler to use - check out our calculator. For a more traditional look, we recommend lava rock and gas logs. Some folks are going more modern with some slick-looking fire glass. We have seen some installations that use both! Once the connections are made and the pit is filled, it is now time for you enjoy your new fire pit! We trust our "How to Build a Fire Pit" tutorial was helpful. If you have questions, give us a call!