Frequently Asked Questions
A simple resource for all your fire pit FAQs
Planning a Fire Pit – FAQs
- Can I put a gas fire pit on a wood or synthetic deck?
- What are common dimensions for a fire pit?
- How tall should my fire pit be?
- Can I put my fire pit under a pergola?
- Who should I call to install my fire pit?
- Where should I place the gas stub for a natural gas fire pit?
- Do I need a permit to build or install a fire pit?
- Should I build a fire pit myself or buy a complete fire pit?
- Can I build a ground-level fire pit?
- Can I build a custom fire pit?
Fuel and Gas Line Sizing for a Fire Pit – FAQs
- Should I use natural gas, propane, or wood for my fire pit?
- What size gas line do I need for my fire pit?
- What gas pressure do I need for my fire pit?
- Do I need a regulator or air mixer for my fire pit?
- How do I connect a propane tank/bottle to my fire pit burner?
- How much will it cost to run my natural gas or propane fire pit?
Fire Pit Burners and Rings – FAQs
- What type of natural gas or propane burner should I use in my fire pit?
- Do natural gas or propane burners keep you warm?
- How many BTUs should I get in my fire pit?
- What is the best material for natural gas or propane fire pit burners?
- Can I burn wood logs on my gas fire pit?
- Do I need to cover my fire pit?
- How much fire glass or lava rock do I need?
- Can I fill my gas fire pit with pea gravel?
- Do I need a burner plate or pan for my fire pit?
- Should I use steel or aluminum for my fire pit plate or pan?
- Do I need ventilation for my gas fire pit?
- How do I safely light a gas fire pit?
- How do I install my gas fire pit burner or ring?
Common Fire Pit Issues – FAQs
Can I put a gas fire pit on a wood or synthetic deck?
Yes. In most cases, all the heat from a gas fire pit burner will rise up and not cause any damage to a wood or synthetic deck. Keep in mind, you should try to keep about 10 inches of clearance from the deck to the bottom of the fire pit burner or plate.
What are common dimensions for a fire pit?
Use these measurements as a good starting point for your designing and planning. Master Reference Guide
Round & Square standard opening sizes
- 18″, 24″, 30″, 36″, 42″, 48″, 60″
- Add .5″ to 1″ to your opening to make room for the plate
Rectangular standard opening sizes
- See H-STYLE and TREE-STYLE burner pages and use the Plate sizes to determine standard opening sizes
- Add .5″ to 1″ to your opening to make room for the plate
Ideal ledge width to set drinks on, put feet up on, etc…
- 7″ to 12″
How deep to mount the plate:
- 3″ to 5″ (plate to top of burner jet is 3″)
Clearance from fire to:
- Top ledge: 5″-6″
- Combustible building/wall: 36″
- Combustible ceiling/overhang: 10′
Click image below for a visual clearance guide
How tall should my fire pit be?
How far you set your seating from a fire determines how much heat you feel. Therefore, if you live in a cooler climate, get closer. If it’s a mild climate, you may not feel the need to sit as close. Because of this, seating should be 18″ to 24″ from the edge of the fire feature.
Only design tall fire features if you have tall chairs. This is why standard height of fire features is around 16″ – 25″. For maximum warmth, keep it between 16″ and 20″ tall. If you plan on using 24v electronic ignition, you will need 10″-14″ of space below the plate. You can dig down below the fire feature to make more space if necessary.
You can even design your fire to be at ground level. On the other end of the spectrum, avoid going higher than 24″, as you may feel less heat from the fire. Of course you can make it a taller table if you’d like to set taller chairs next to it. Consider measuring and marking out your space.
Can I put my fire pit under a pergola?
Yes, but you should keep about 8 to 10 feet of clear space above your fire pit burner. Keep in mind, if your pergola or upper deck is too low, you may incur damage or even an unwanted fire.
Who should I call to install my fire pit?
For propane fire pits, search “propane supplier near me”. There are also various online stores that supply propane regulators for situations that call for more than 200K BTUs. For burners 200K BTUs or lower, purchase a regulator HERE. For higher BTUs over longer distances, sometimes 2 regulators are needed – a 10psi at the tank, and a 2nd stage (11-13″wc) near the fire feature.
For running a natural gas line, or installing a natural gas burner, contact a plumber or HVAC specialist.
For building or designing a fire pit, Landscape architects and designers are very knowledgeable. Masons work great for concrete and stonework. Pool designers and general contractors often build fire pits for people. Montana Fire Pits should be your number one choice for custom fire pit design!
For moving your complete system to its final location, use general contractors, moving companies, or a few strong friends will do.
Where should I place the gas stub for a natural gas or propane fire pit?
The natural gas or propane stub can be off-center or on-center, depending on the size of your fire feature. The key valve is generally located on the side of the fire pit, so if it makes sense for your build, place the gas stub off-center to reduce the distance of gas stub to key valve. Instruct the contractor to keep the gas stub as low as possible to make room for electronic ignition, or in the case that the plate sets fairly low. We recommend this because with some builds, the plate sits only 8″ off the ground, so plan accordingly.
Do I need a permit to build or install a fire pit?
You may or may not need a permit to install a gas fire pit. This all depends on which county you live in. Generally, in more populated areas, a permit is required. If you live out in the sticks, you may not need a permit. Therefore, check your local codes to better understand the requirements.
Should I build a fire pit myself or buy a complete fire pit?
If you’re looking for a quick, easy, and beautiful way to acquire a gas fire pit, we’d recommend getting a complete system shipped to you. The most popular materials for complete fire pits would be concrete (GFRC), and steel. You can also purchase ‘Ready to Finish‘ fire pit kits. These come with everything you need except the veneer.
If you’re handy, and also looking to save some money, you can build your own fire pit. We’d recommend getting a Crossfire burner by Warming Trends for the best flame possible. They also have a lifetime warranty, and produce at least twice the flame as their stainless steel competitors (using the same amount of fuel!)
Can I build a ground level fire pit?
There are all kinds of ways to build a ground level gas fire pit. To avoid corrosion, and to get the best flame possible, we’d highly recommend getting a lifetime Crossfire burner (manufactured by Warming Trends). Also, to avoid fuel pooling under the burner, we recommend only doing this kind of build if you have a natural gas supply. Because natural gas rises, you won’t have excess gas that pools below.
Can I build a custom fire pit?
Yes. The process is very simple to customize your fire pit. In order to do this, simply fill out the form on this this page and we’ll be in touch. We can do custom burners, ready to finish kits, steel and concrete fire pits.
Should I use natural gas, propane, or wood for my fire pit?
The most convenient, efficient, environmentally friendly, and cost effective fuel for a fire pit is natural gas. That is why we recommend using natural gas when possible. If natural gas is not available, propane will do just fine. Wood is simply not a recommend fuel for fire pits in this day and age, mostly because of the smoke output. It lowers the air quality and tends to settle in valleys. If you’re camping, and you’re not in a dry situation, a wood campfire might do the trick.
You might be thinking natural gas or propane will not produce nearly as much heat as a wood burning fire pit. If you want to keep warm, we recommend the high BTU output from the Crossfire Burners by Warming Trends. Every model is HOT, and will keep you warm just as well as a wood burning fire. To take the heat up even more, add steel or ceramic logs, or cannon fireballs. All of these fire media options heat up after a few minutes and radiate it into the space. A gas fire pit never felt so good!
What size gas line do I need for my fire pit?
In order to get a tall, hot, beautiful flame in your gas fire pit, you need to have a large enough gas/fuel line supplying the burner. Whether the fuel line is coming from a natural gas meter, or a propane tank, the line size is of utmost importance. Imagine you’re filling up a swimming pool with water from your garden hose. Now place your thumb over the end of the hose… the pressure is increased substantially. However, it will now take longer to fill up the pool, even though you have more pressure. This is why, for the best flame possible, you need good pressure as well as adequate fuel volume.
Ultimately a gas professional will be best in helping you determine the gas line size you need. However, you can use this NATURAL GAS or PROPANE line sizing chart to get a rough estimate. Learn more HERE.
How much gas pressure do I need for my fire pit?
- Propane: 11-13″ water column (w.c.)
- Natural Gas: 7-10″ water column (w.c.)
Water Columnis the term used to measure pressure. There are 27.7 inches of water column pressure in 1 PSI of pressure. So 7″wc is about 1/4 PSI. This is the normal pressure that household natural gas is delivered. The device used to measure pressure of this type is called a Manometer. If the pressure is too high, you may experience unwanted noise. If the pressure too Low, the flame will not be as tall and hot.
Do I need a regulator or air mixer for my fire pit?
You do not need an air mixer with any natural gas or propane burner purchased from Montana Fire Pits. The reason is, air is mixed through a hole at the base of each jet. However, you will need a regulator for propane set ups, and sometimes with natural gas. For propane regulators for burners over 200K BTUs, contact a local propane supplier. For regulators 200K BTUs or lower, CLICK HERE to purchase. From the tank, propane is HIGH PRESSURE, so it must be regulated down, because the burners are low pressure.
For longer gas lines, we often use a high pressure (10psi) regulator at the tank end, and a “2nd stage” regulator on the other end of the line to bring the pressure to 11-13″wc. For natural gas, you may or may not need a regulator, depending on the pressure from your meter and the length of your gas line. Consult a professional (plumber/HVAC) for your project.
How do I connect a propane tank/bottle to my fire pit burner?
To connect a 20lb propane tank to a Crossfire Burner, you’ll need a regulator and hose. In addition, it’s recommend that you use a key valve and flex line for adjusting the flame height. If you’ll be keeping the tank within arm’s reach of the burner, you could potentially use the tank nozzle to turn the flame up and down instead of a key valve.
To connect the regulator and line to the tank, the fitting used is a flared “quick connect” piece. That means you don’t need to use pipe sealant for that connection. On the other end of the line, you may need to increase or reduce the size of the line, depending on what you’re connecting it to. Some key valves have a 1/2″ inlet, and some have 3/4″.
Determine what your fuel inlet size is, and then purchase a fitting to make that connection from the fuel line to the key valve or burner. Since the fittings are ‘straight’ as opposed to ‘flared’, you will need to use pipe sealant and a wrench to avoid leaks. Use a spray bottle with soapy water to check the connections after they’re connected and the gas is turned on.
How much will it cost to run my natural gas or propane fire pit?
This depends of how much fuel costs in your area. Natural gas is generally more affordable than propane, and you may not even notice an increase in your natural gas bill. However, most RV stores will supply propane at a substantially discounted price. It’s important to know that the Crossfire Burners use fuel much more efficiently than standard stainless steel burner rings or inserts. This is due to the mixing of oxygen and fuel at the flame. Expect more heat and BTUs with less fuel. Here’s a Fuel Cost Calculator.
What type of natural gas or propane burner should I use in my fire pit?
The key to being satisfied with your gas fire pit is finding the correct type of burner. The burner is arguably the most important part of the build.
The two most common types of burners are stainless steel and brass. You may pay more upfront for a brass burner, but you will pay less over time for these reasons: 1) Brass does not corrode or rust over time like stainless steel, 2) Brass enables the use of engineered ‘jets’ that mix fuel and oxygen at the flame. This helps produce more flame and more heat with less gas consumption. 3) Some brass burners have a LIFETIME warranty. That means you only need one burner for the rest of your life! We recommend the Crossfire Burner by Warming Trends; all brass with a lifetime warranty.
Do natural gas or propane burners keep you warm?
Some will keep you warm, and some will not. Standard stainless steel burner rings tend to lack in the heat and flame department. The nature of this type of burner is that gas gets forced through holes punched in a tube of metal. These types of burners may be a good option if all you need is a little ambiance. Keep in mind, the flames tend to look artificial; like the flames in a gas BBQ grill.
In order to keep warm with a gas fire pit, you should consider a burner with ‘jet’ technology. The jets are tuned by the manufacturer to take air in right at the flame. As a result, you experience something called the Venturi effect. The flame is more natural, more vibrant, and produces much more heat. Because of this, you will feel more BTUs and will burn less fuel. The end result is a gas fire that puts out the heat of a wood burning fire (without the smoke!)
We recommend Crossfire burners by Warming Trends. Adding fire media takes the heat up a notch. In a wood burning fire, the coals are the hottest part, not the flame. In a gas fire pit, ceramic logs, ceramic river stones, or cannon fireballs will heat up after a few minutes and radiate incredible heat into your space.
How many BTUs should I get in my fire pit?
You can’t have too many BTUs in your fire pit, so go big. You can always turn the fire down with a key valve. A good mid-point entry into BTUs is 180,000. This closely emulates a wood burning campfire. That being said, it highly depends on the application. Maybe you just need smaller fire accents around your pool; go with 60,000 to 120,000 BTUs.
The bigger the burn area (inside opening) of the fire pit, the more BTUs you can fit in it. Some style of burners are built to cram as many BTUs as possible into a given space. Top BTUs for round and square openings would be the Octagonal Crossfire burner. If you want maximum BTUs in a rectangular opening, go with the Tree Style Crossfire burner. The fact is, ALL of the Crossfire burners are HOT; so choose your burner based on the inside dimensions of your fire pit.
What is the best material for natural gas or propane fire pit burners?
There’s a reason they use brass on ships out at sea. Brass doesn’t rust or corrode like steel. It does, however, discolor over time and it accumulates a tarnish that looks like corrosion. This doesn’t affect the functionality of brass, and it can be cleaned . See How to Clean Brass.
Can I burn wood logs on my gas fire pit?
No. It is not recommended to burn wood or other combustible materials on a gas fire pit. Here is the reason; the ashes will hinder the gas flow from the burner and eventually keep it from functioning.
Do I need to cover my fire pit?
Yes. No matter how advanced a burner system is, enough water will keep the gas from flowing freely. Therefore, when rain is expected, cover your fire pit. Here are some great cover options.
You can, however, use your fire pit while it’s raining or snowing (in moderation). This is especially true with brass burners, as brass does not rust.
How much fire glass or lava rock do I need?
You should use the inside dimensions of your fire pit to calculate the lava rock and glass quantities you need. We recommend 3 inches of lava rock, with an inch of glass on top of that. This will save you money, and will completely conceal the burner. With an inch of glass over the lava rock, you won’t see the lava rock. This may save you quite a bit of money.
Can I fill my gas fire pit with pea gravel?
You can, but be careful that the gravel is not too small. What happens is that little fragments of rock can get lodged in your fire pit burner and restrict gas flow.
Some projects may not require a burner plate or pan. In this case, you might use pea gravel to fill up the void under the burner. Set the burner directly on the gravel and put lava rock on top of the burner to conceal it. This may be more cost effective than a plate or pan, however, it will be difficult to access the plumbing if the need arises. This is why the convenience of a plate or pan is recommended.
Do I need a burner plate or pan for my fire pit?
In most cases, yes, a burner plate or pan is recommend for safety and convenience. We recommend aluminum so that it doesn’t rust. If you’d like to skip the plate or pan and just use filler, go for it. You may regret it if you ever need to access the plumbing under the burner.
A plate is most common, because the inside walls of the fire pit hold in the fire media. However, sometimes a pan with sidewalls is better, especially if your top cap encroaches into your opening. In this case, you should get a pan that is a half inch smaller than the smallest part of your opening.
Should I use steel or aluminum for my fire pit plate or pan?
Aluminum is better than steel for your fire pit burner plate or pan. This is because aluminum doesn’t rust like steel. That being said, steel will work fine in a pinch.
Do I need ventilation for my gas fire pit?
The short answer is YES. Excess gas can pool up in your fire pit and cause problems. In extreme cases, you can see your fire pit exploding into pieces. This is more common in fire pits using propane as a fuel source. Propane is heavier than air, and so it sinks. Natural gas is lighter than air, so excess gas rises into the atmosphere. That doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t need ventilation with natural gas. This is why we recommend that you consult a local plumber or HVAC specialist for advice specific to your project.
How do I safely light a gas fire pit?
To safely light a gas fire pit:
- Have your lighter ready. Click it to get the flame going.
- Turn the fuel on to your burner, but keep it real low.
- Light one of the burner ‘jets’.
- Gradually turn the fuel up just a small amount. The other jets should now light by themselves.
- To speed that part up, you can blow on the flame just a bit to ‘fold it over’ into the direction of the other jets. If you blow too hard, you’ll lose your flame. If that happens, quickly turn the gas off and start over. Keep in mind, all the excess gas from unlit portions of the burner can build up. If you’re using propane, that fuel sinks down because it’s heavier than air. Make sure your fire pit has adequate ventilation so that the fuel can dissipate. The process that we’ve just described is commonly known as ‘match lit’.
If you’re looking to light your fire pit with a battery powered spark, or a fully automated premium system, check out your options HERE. With electronic ignition, you can use home automation, your smartphone, a remote, or a dial timer to light your fire pit. That’s right, we live in a day and age in which you can summon fire with your voice! It’s like magic.
How do I install my gas fire pit burner or ring?
Do you really want to risk messing this up and blowing yourself up? That is why we recommend that you get a licensed plumber, HVAC specialist, or propane supplier to hook up your gas fire pit burner. (Maybe we’re being dramatic… or maybe not. It’s just not worth the risk.) With that disclaimer, HERE is some installation information for you.
How to get a bigger, better, hotter flame in your gas fire pit.
There are 3 things that make a strong flame for your gas fire pit:
- A good burner
- Adequate fuel volume
- The correct gas pressure
The first and most important part is the burner. If your burner is comprised of metal tubing with holes punched in it, you will probably never have a strong, efficient flame. Step 1: obtain a good fire pit burner.
Step 2: Make sure you have a large enough gas line ran from your fuel source to your fire pit. For the most accurate gas line size assessment, consult a local plumber, HVAC, or propane specialist. For a rough estimate as to the size of gas line you should have, refer to the Natural Gas and Propane Gas Line Sizing Charts.
Step 3: Make sure you have the correct gas pressure at the burner. If the pressure is too low, you won’t have a strong flame. If the pressure is too high, you may get whistling noises. The fuel pressure recommended for the Crossfire Burners (which we recommend for the best flame), is 7-10″wc for natural gas, and 11-13″wc for propane. For more information about what that means, read up on it HERE.
My natural gas or propane fire pit is causing black soot on my fire glass or logs. They're turning black.
Soot build-up is normal, and mostly prominent when burning propane. However, natural gas will also build up as black soot on fire media, just not as fast.
You can clean ceramic logs or rivers stones by soaking them in a bucket of soapy water for a few hours. Afterwards, you can spray them off with a hose. Avoid scrubbing them.
If burning propane, try not to move your fire media around too much. Burn them for a while without moving them, and some of the soot will most likely flake off. After that, it will settle in and cause a nice natural looking char. If it is excessive, this may be a fuel issue caused by a rich mixture, or the incorrect regulator. Contact your gas professional. Learn more about soot build up here.
My fire pit KEY VALVE is stuck, or very hard to turn.
Sometimes the valve is “sticky” out of the factory. Because of this, before you install the key valve, you should ‘prime’ it by working it lose. In order to do this, put the valve in a vice and use some channel locks or pliers to work the valve back and forth. Feel free to use some high-viscosity lubricant, such as silicone to free up the movement.
Watch this short video on how to loosen your valve before its initial use.
My fire pit burner is making noise.
Experiencing a ‘whoosh’ type sound is normal. What’s happening is that air is mixing with fuel at each jet and causing a sound like a mild rushing wind. That is why we recommend using Whistle free flex lines in order to keep noise at a minimum.
If you already have a whistle free flex line and you still hear a whistle, it may be the line that runs to your key valve. Contact your gas professional to replace that line or add the proper regulator to fix the pressure.
If you have a gas valve near your natural gas meter, you can reduce the flow there in order to control the noise.
Sometimes water in the line causes a slight whistle or gurgling noise. Remove water using compressed air, or it may evaporate over time. Cover the fire pit when not in use to avoid water build up.
Here are the proper pressures for most fire pit burners; Natural Gas: 7-10″wc, Propane: 11-13″wc.
I smell gas coming from my fire pit.
Some fuel is not burned in the process of lighting a fire pit. If you’re using propane, some of that fuel may sink down below the fire pit burner. This is why even after you turn everything off, you may smell gas for a short period of time before the gas dissipates. If the smell of gas lingers for longer than a few minutes, you may have a gas leak. Call your local plumber, HVAC, or propane supplier for help.
You can also test each connection and fitting using soapy water in a spray bottle. To do this, spray each connection. If bubbles begin to form, you may have a leak. Keep in mind, straight fittings require pipe dope specific to gas (plumber’s tape does not work).
My gas fire pit won’t light.
Make sure there is no water or ice in the fuel lines. If there is, you may need to use an air compressor to remove water from the lines. Always cover your burner when not in use to help keep moisture out. Make sure your connections are secure and gas is flowing freely.