Your cart (0)
Skip to content

Are Propane Fire Pits Safe?

Propane fire pits are usually pretty safe, but it's important for homeowners to be sure they're using and setting them up correctly. Following the manufacturer's instructions and practicing basic safety rules is a must.Whenever there's fire involved, there's always a chance of things going wrong. In this article, we'll take a closer look at these potential risks, ways to reduce them, and some simple steps...

Are Propane Fire Pits Safe?

Propane fire pits are usually pretty safe, but it's important for homeowners to be sure they're using and setting them up correctly. Following the manufacturer's instructions and practicing basic safety rules is a must.

Whenever there's fire involved, there's always a chance of things going wrong. In this article, we'll take a closer look at these potential risks, ways to reduce them, and some simple steps you can take to enjoy your propane fire pit without worry.

Possible Dangers of Propane Fire Pits

In this section, we will discuss some of the more common dangers posed by propane fire pits, and we will also offer solutions on how to mitigate the risk. 

Poor Ventilation

A poorly ventilated propane fire pit can cause a build-up of carbon monoxide. Breathing carbon monoxide is detrimental to your health and can be fatal. CO displaces oxygen which will rather quickly lead to unconsciousness and then suffocation. 

Solution

Always maintain proper ventilation to reduce the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Propane is heavier than air which causes it to sink. When you purchase a fire pit, it will be designed to allow propane to escape, likely through the bottom, should there be a propane leak. In addition to the bottomless design, you should leave at least 20 square inches underneath your pit to facilitate ventilation. 

Also, it is good to remember outside doesn't equal good ventilation! If you install your fire pit in an enclosed outdoor space — such as a nook created by outside walls — fresh air won't be able to circulate.

Fire Outside The Pit

If flammable items are placed near the fire pit or you install your pit on a combustible surface, you may spread the fire outside of your fire pit. 

Solution

Use care when choosing where to install your propane fire pit and when decorating the surrounding area. Keep anything flammable at least three feet away from the flames, and leave eight feet (or more) of clearance above the pit as well. 

Remember, you cannot put out a propane gas fire with water. In fact, spraying water on the fire may cause it to spread or it could cause an explosion. Instead, you need to have a fire extinguisher on hand that is suitable for a propane fire. 

If a fire should spread outside of your fire pit, the first thing you should do is cut off the gas as long as it is safe to do so. Then you can address it with the appropriate fire extinguisher in a sweeping motion. 

Leaks

Propane can leak from hoses or connections that are not securely tightened which can lead to unwanted fires or inhalation.

Solution

Make sure you maintain your propane fire pit as recommended by the manufacturer. You should also regularly check your hoses for wear, and check your connections to ensure that are securely fastened.

Explosions

Propane fire pits can explode due to the flammability and combustibility of propane. 

Solution

Always ensure that you operate your propane fire pit per the manufacturer's instructions. In addition, your equipment should be in good repair including all hoses and connections, the regulator, and the propane tank itself. 

Leaking hoses can release propane into the air which can be ignited by small sparks or even insects. The regulator keeps the propane, once ignited, from going back inside the tank, and the tank itself can develop weak spots due to rust.

Burns

As with anything involving high heat or open flame, a propane fire pit poses a burn risk to anyone who gets too close. Even after the flames are out, the pit and its contents have the potential to cause severe burns. 

Solution

To prevent potentially serious burns, everyone should give the fire pit a wide berth. Children and pets should be watched carefully while the pit is in use or cooling.

The propane should always be turned off as soon as you are done enjoying the fire pit.  Always give ample time for any of the pit's contents (glass, rocks, etc.) to cool before attempting to handle them. 

Negligence

Many accidents are caused by negligence. Failing to ensure the gas line is turned off properly when the fire pit is not in use is a fire hazard as the pit can be accidentally ignited.

Solution

Be diligent when using your fire pit, and always double-check to ensure your gas supply is properly shut off before vacating the area. Follow all safety tips laid out by the manufacturer, and make sure you purchase a propane fire pit that is easy and comfortable for you to use. Another best practice is checking on the pit the following day any time you use it. 

Clogged Valves

Clogged valves can cause the fuel to burn inefficiently which can lead to an excess of carbon monoxide. 

Solution

To prevent the valves from getting clogged, avoid cooking in your fire pit — even roasting marshmallows — unless the propane fire pit is specially designed for cooking. 

If you notice debris or other buildup on or near the valves, carefully clean the area per the manufacturer's instructions. Ensure the gas is completely turned off and the fire pit is not hot before attempting to clean. 

Tips to Maximize Safety Of Your Propane Fire Pit

As with anything involving an open flame, safety should always be at the forefront of the mind. The following eight tips will help you safely enjoy your propane fire pit.

#1: Follow the Manufacturer’s Instructions

The instructions included with your propane fire pit should give you guidelines for proper assembly and maintenance. Plus, the instructions will inform you on how to properly use your fire pit to avoid possible injury or damage to the components. 

#2: Safety First, Every Time

Practice good safety habits every time you use your fire pit:

  • Check hoses and connections for leaks or worn spots before lighting.
  • Make sure the fire pit stays clear of debris.
  • Never allow a child to operate the fire pit.
  • Do not leave flames unattended.
  • Small children, pets, or those under the influence should not be left alone near a lit fire pit.
  • Make sure the gas supply is turned off while not in use.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher rated for propane fires in easy reach.

#3: Use Only Approved Accessories

Only use fire pit accessories that are approved by the manufacturer of your specific fire pit. Rocks, ceramic logs, windscreens, and decorative glass need to be approved for contact with a gas-fueled pit. Real wood should never be put in a propane fire pit.

#4: Keep Things Clean

People love propane fire pits because there isn't an ashy mess to deal with after use. Yet, that doesn't exempt you from having to clean your pit. Debris can still collect in the area, such as twigs, pine needles, and leaves, which will need to be removed before use. Using a cover will help eliminate a lot of unwanted debris. A cover will also help keep bugs and moisture out of your burners. 

#5: Properly Install the Fire Pit

A propane fire pit should be installed on a fire-proof and stable surface. Good options are concrete, pavers, rock, or brick. It should be placed in an open, well-ventilated area free of flammable materials. Ample space should be left above, below, and beside the fire pit. Umbrellas and pergolas should not be placed directly overhead, and furniture should be kept at a proper distance from the flames. Also, check for low-hanging branches or drooping powerlines near your propane fire pit. 

#6: Wait for Appropriate Weather

It is dangerous to use a gas-fueled fire pit on days when the winds are high. Heavily blowing wind can cause unpredictable flames that can hop to nearby flammable items like tree limbs, grass, or outdoor furniture. If you live in an area that is prone to wildfires, any kind of outdoor fire pit is probably a bad idea.

#7: Regularly Inspect Your Fire Pit

You should check the components of your propane fire pit at regular intervals to ensure everything is working as it should. Hoses, connections, and valves need to be in good condition and properly connected. If you do not feel comfortable doing inspections yourself, you can hire a professional. The manufacturer of your propane fire pit should be able to assist you in finding someone qualified in your area.

#8: Make Sure You’re Legal

Before installing a propane fire pit on your property, check with your county or city to ensure yours will be up to code. In some places, a local fire official needs to inspect your site before/after one is installed. If you live in a neighborhood with an HOA, there may be rules regarding how and where a pit can be installed. Another check you may want to do is with your home insurance agent. You may be required to have additional coverage with a fire pit on your property.

How Safe Are Propane Fire Pits Compared to Other Types of Fire Pits 

Propane vs Wood: A propane fire pit is cleaner than a wood-burning fire pit as there is no ash or embers to clean. In addition, there will be less smoke pollution from a propane pit — something that may be required by some HOAs. Both have a risk of fire spreading, but it can be easier to extinguish a propane-fueled fire pit as you can simply turn the gas off. 

Purchased vs DIY: DIYing a fire pit is possible — especially if you have experience with masonry, fuel lines, or mechanics. However, a propane fire pit will be a lot more difficult to DIY than a wood-burning fire pit as there are more components to worry about. Purchasing a propane fire pit is often the safer option as you cannot always trust the validity of YouTube videos or DIY posts on the internet. 



Other Articles You May Like