Before the rains and snows of January and February come roaring through, it is time to winterize your outdoor fire pit by following these helpful hints. These tips will help protect your investment, make the first fire of the spring so much easier and ensure that your gatherings with family and friends will be much more enjoyable.
1. For wood burning pits or rings, clean out any residual ash and wood. Make it easy on yourself by using a garage vacuum. Bag the ashes separately and dispose. For gas burning fire pits, turn off the gas. If you are using a 20 lb Propane Cylinder, uncouple the supply and take the cylinder indoors to the garage.
2. If you have a grate in the pit, examine it for wear. If it has passed it's use by date then replace it. If not, treat the grate with high temperature spray paint or consider powder coating the grate.
3. Examine the spark guard that you use. If it is not intact with holes in the mesh then replace it. If the mesh is still intact, then treat with high temperature paint or consider powder coating. You will need to put the spark guard back on the pit before you put the weather proof cover over the fire pit, but more of that later.
4. Ensure that there is still adequate drainage at the bottom of the pit. A drainage pipe of minimum 1/2″ diameter is required. Test to see how long a gallon of water drains from your fire pit.
5. It is essential to ensure the cover will not allow rain or snow to pond on the top of the pit. If you have a spark guard place it on the top of the pit to support the pit cover. If not you need to create a tent pole structure. The best material to use is 1″ – 1 1 /2 Inch plastic water pipe with plastic bends and “T” fittings. This is lightweight and rigid. For larger fire pits use the larger water pipe.
6. If you do not have a pit cover already, a cheap solution is to buy a blue tarp from any neighborhood hardware store. Lay the tarp over the raised spark guard or structure and trim so that the tarp extends 4″ below the edge of the capping stone. Using a tarp grommet repair kit ($7.00), punch as many holes as required for your shape and size of fire pit [example 6 grommets for round and so on]. Hook a Spring Hook Carabiner in each of the grommet holes ready to take the tie down weight. Tie down weights can be easily made from 2 liter soda bottles filled with sand. With heavy duty twine create a loop around the neck of the soda bottle. Hang a bottle on each Spring Hook. It is recommended that two people do this hanging a bottle on opposite grommet holes at the same time. This will keep the tarp in place while you complete the covering of the pit. These weights should be sufficient in most areas but to be safe, use a tie down around the fire pit.