How to Keep Water From Pooling in the Fire Pit
The autumnal leaf color change is synonymous with colder weather and rain. This means you must start weatherproofing in preparation for the rain and snow. Unfortunately, the firepit is one of the things most people fail to weatherproof, leading to constant water damage and a soggy fire pit.
Keep reading to learn how to prevent water damage on your fire pit.
Should I drill drain holes in my fire pit?
Yes. A drainage hole is required for water to run out of metallic and in-ground fire pits. You must have drain holes for your fire pit if you have an open or an in-ground fire pit in the backyard. If not, water will collect inside the fire pit, leading to rust. It is best to drill a hole at the bottom of your fire pit for rainwater drainage.
You will also need to keep the ground around the fire pit dry for an inground fire pit.
How do you make a fire pit drain?
The method depends on whether you have a sunken or a portable fire pit.
How to drill drain holes in portable fire pit
- Fire Pit
- Drill (with a bit as large as you want your hole)
- Steel wool (mine had soap in it)
- Steel bristle brush
- If you are working on an old fire pit, drain most of the water out, leaving a little to prevent overheating the bit when drilling. You can use cutting fluid or water. Ensure you dry your tools when done.
- Then proceed to drill a hole in the middle of the firepit. You can drill multiple holes for faster water drainage. Two holes should get the job done. Then let the rest of the water in the pit drain out.
- If the pit is rusty, use soapy water and steel wool to scrub off the rust. Then rinse it and let it dry completely. Finally, proceed to paint it with heat-resistant paint if it is not made from stainless steel.
- You can add a 4-inch drain pipe to allow the water to drain away from the fire pit. A small gravel channel is another creative way to carry the water away. You can use lava rocks, firepit glass, or gravel to cover the drain pipe and diffuse heat.
How to drain a permanent fire pit
For fixed stone constructed fire pits, there are a couple of things you could consider that can be built into the base of the pit before you construct the main walls. There are two different methods for draining a permanent fire pit;
A French drain is a trench containing a perforated pipe that redirects surface water and groundwater away from an area. The trench is usually covered with gravel or rock, or both. When building a french drain under your fire pit, you have to consider what you’re going to line the bottom with – whether that’s lava pit rocks, fire pit glass, sand, or gravel.
Do not use conventional rocks or concrete, as any water trapped inside can expand and explode when hot. Instead, you can use either a slightly angled 4-inch steel drain pipe to the open air some distance from the pit or a gravel channel a few inches deep – again to reach daylight under the pit’s walls and then some distance away.
The great point about a French drain is that the channel you create can run under your seating area and your fire pit to avoid a water-filled fire pit. Here are some example setups to avoid sand, dirt, or ash blocking the drain and stop the metal pipe from getting too hot.
Lava rock base
These obsidian rocks are formed from magma and are very good at conducting heat; they’re specially made for fire pits. If you’re using a metal pipe, you’ll need a drain grill cover over the top to ensure no debris goes down, plus a few inches of sand or gravel, so the metal pipe doesn’t get too hot.
You’ll also need to use some durable fabric over the drain grill if your chosen heat diffusion layer is sand. If you’re using simple gravel for your drainage channel, then a layer of porous fabric is a good idea under the sand/gravel – as this will stop any dirt from clogging up your channel.
Fire pit glass base
although not quite as good at conducting heat as lava rocks, artificially made fire pit glass has the advantage that it comes in various colors and looks great as a result. The same points apply to using sand/gravel for your heat diffusion layer.
Plus, some tough fabric to stop debris going down either your metal drainage pipe or gravel drain. This option is rather more expensive than the suggestion above, though.
if you want to keep it simple and save money, you could line your fire pit with a few inches of gravel over either a fixed metal drain pipe or a different gravel drainage channel. If the pea gravel size is larger than the holes in your drain grill cover, you won’t need a fabric covering over the drain hole. Ensure your gravel layer is a few inches deep to shield any metal drainage pipes from the heat.
The cheapest option is to cover the French drain (or metal pipe drain) with durable porous fabric, then cover this with a thick layer of sand several inches deep. However, this would be the best option if your fire pit is a fixed but temporary structure. The lava rock or fire pit glass options are best for fixed permanent stone fire pits.
Another option for draining your fixed fire pit is to design in or drill slightly above ground level weep holes in the walls of your pit. These can then clean out dirt and ash and help with drainage.
The main downside to this over and above building a fixed French drain is that the water and gunk can block the holes over time if you don’t regularly clean them out – or the dirty water can pool on your patio and around your feet in the seating area.
The great advantage of a French drain is that water is taken away from your patio and diverted away. In addition, this helps create a more professional-looking fire pit and dining/seating area.
How To Make a Fire Pit Drain
In addition to adding basic drainage options, there is another simple way to make an in-ground or above-ground permanent fire pit drain.
Since this is the most challenging style to drain, we’ll add a way for the water to inundate the ground below.
- Sturdy metal grate
Remove any rocks or lining and dig them down under the bottom of your fire pit. You need to dig down about twelve inches.
Then, fill that hole up with gravel. Now you can put a layer of larger rocks in place to line the bottom of your pit, but don’t fill it with cement or any other solid base.
Finally, re-line the walls of the original fire pit, and you’re done.
Don’t let your fire pit become a mosquito breeding ground. Leaving an uncovered pit to collect water is an awful plan. When building a fire pit in your yard, it’s essential to line the bottom with sand.
This helps to soak up the heat and evenly distribute the heat throughout the fire pit. Sand is also great for protecting the actual metal bowl from the intense heat the fire can put out.
Consider using kiln-fired pavers around the sides for an above-ground fire pit instead of a solid concrete wall or brick-and-mortar. Not only are pavers safe to use, but they also provide excellent airflow, and you can offset and space them so that the water flows out instead of collecting inside your pit.
How to protect a fire pit from rain
Use these tips below to protect your firepit from the rain;
Store Movable Pits in Covered Areas
One of the best things about portable fire pits is their mobility. Moving the pit into a shed, garage, or under a deck keeps it snug and dry during rainstorms. Ensure the fire pit is fully cooled before storing it in a covered area; fires can reignite a full day after they are out.
Stored inside or under cover and dry also maintains a fire pit’s quality, reduces maintenance, and greatly extends its lifespan.
You can keep your fire pit indoors or any place with a cover over it to protect it from rain and sunlight. It can be your basement, garage, storeroom, or spare corner of your home. Lightweight and portable fire pits are easy to move and store in a dry safe location.
Wood-burning fire pits, portable propane fire pits, and other portable fire pits can be moved and kept under a roof. However, an in-ground fire pit built into your yard or deck can’t be moved, so you need to use other options.
Note: Never try to move a fire pit that is still hot. Make sure your fire pit has cooled down first. If it’s a wood-burning fire pit, let it cool down and clean out the leftover ash before moving it. A fire pit can take up to 24 hours to cool down entirely. Keep this in consideration to avoid any messy mistakes.
Use a tarp
Using a tarp over your fire pit is a fast and easy way to protect it from rain and sun damage. Tarps work for virtually any type of fire pit, whether a portable fire pit or a permanent outdoor fire pit. This works for a wood-burning fire pit, copper fire pit, or stone fire pit. Don’t forget to keep your propane tank under the tarp as well. Using a wood-burning fire pit, use a tarp to cover the firewood.
Use any basic tarp from Walmart or Home Depot to cover your fire pit. This is a low-cost option for those who don’t want to spend money on a pre-made custom-fit fire pit cover. However, for an in-ground DIY fire pit, you may not be able to find a pre-made fire pit cover. You may have to make do with a regular tarp in that case.
Never put a tarp on a fire pit. Tarps and canvas covers are flammable and will melt or burn when exposed to high heat. Let your fire pit cool down for a few hours before putting a tarp over it. As a general rule, if your fire pit is too hot to touch, it is too hot to put a tarp on it.
Use a Pre-made synthetic or canvas cover
A fire pit cover can prevent water from getting into your firepit. Pre-made covers made from canvas or synthetic materials are the choice of modern fire pit users. They look much better than a standard tarp for those who care about the appearance of their fire pit when not using it.
Polyvinyl covers are very popular and available in various shapes and sizes. The material is resistant to weather, water, and heat. In addition, they are lightweight and easy to fold for storage when it’s not raining out.
You can find almost any shape of fire pit cover on this range. You can get matching fire pit and patio furniture covers for a stylish coordinated look. Canvas covers are another option. They can be found in a wide variety of colors and sizes. You can even get the same color cover for your patio furniture to match.
If you are on a budget, you can use a tarp to cover your fire pit. While it may not be as attractive or convenient as the other options, it’s inexpensive and readily available.
However, you should never put a tarp cover on a hot firepit. The rule of thumb is if it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to put a tarp on. Even if the fire is out, heat can still melt the tarp. This can lead to a mess and an unexpected fire at worst.
Using Lava Rocks or Sand Gravel
Lava rocks and sand gravel enhance your gas fire pit and work as the natural drainage system for your fire pits. Most gas and propane fire pits are perfectly compatible with lava rocks. The rocks cover the burners giving them some protection from the rain.
Lava rocks don’t serve many purposes in a wood-burning fire pit since they just get covered with ash, and you will end up shoveling most of them away when you clean them up.
While building an in-ground fire pit, a 1-inch layer of sand gravel with 2-3inch lava rock will work the best. You can use this water protection on an in-built fire pit too. However, while using lava rocks, ensure they are completely dry before turning up the heat on your fire pit.
Moisture trapped inside lava rocks can cause them to explode. If your lava rocks are wet, heat them slowly and let them dry out before allowing anyone close to your fire pit. It is a good idea to put a metal grate over the fire pit to contain any exploding rocks until they have had a chance to dry. River rock and river gravel are not appropriate for use in fire pits.
Fire pit weatherproofing mistakes to avoid
- The buildup of moisture inside a propane fire pit can cause the gas burners to rust, which can prevent lighting. As such, you should ensure it is completely dry when storing it.
- Do not cover your fire pit using a regular tarp, as it can catch fire.