Wiring a backyard bonfire pit can be a fun DIY project that allows you to enjoy relaxing evenings around a cozy fire. However, improper electrical work can also lead to dangerous fires or electrocution hazards. Follow these steps to safely wire your backyard bonfire pit while meeting local building codes.
Select an Appropriate Location
Choosing the right spot for your bonfire pit is crucial for safety. Here are some guidelines for selecting a good location:
- Situate the pit at least 10 feet away from structures, trees, and bushes. This prevents fires from spreading.
- Do not place it under overhead wiring or branches. Heat and sparks can damage wiring or ignite trees.
- Consider wind patterns so smoke does not blow toward your house.
- Check local ordinances for rules on fire pit placement and distances from property lines. Many areas prohibit pits in front or side yards.
Choose a Fire Pit Design
Carefully plan the design of your bonfire pit area:
- Construct the pit walls from non-combustible materials like bricks, concrete blocks, or heavy-duty metal. This contains the fire.
- Include a mesh screen cover to prevent floating embers.
- Surround the pit with heat-safe non-combustible surfaces like stone, brick, or concrete. This prevents accidental spreading.
- For gas fire pits, select one with safety valve shut-offs and leak detectors. This reduces gas leak and explosion risks.
Install Proper Wiring and Lighting
Follow electrical codes for safe pit wiring:
- Hire a licensed electrician if you lack experience with wiring. Mistakes can cause electrocution or fires.
- The wiring must have a dedicated electrical circuit with GFCI outlet and breaker switch. This allows safely shutting off electricity.
- Use only wiring rated for outdoor and underground use. Indoor wiring can short circuit.
- Lighting should point away from the pit area to prevent glare. Use weatherproof fixtures.
- For gas fire pits, proper flexible gas line installation is critical.
Inspect the Electrical Setup
Before using a newly wired fire pit, thoroughly inspect the electrical setup:
- Check wires are not pinched under rocks or dirt. This can damage insulation.
- Ensure connections are tight and wires are securely attached. Loose wires cause arcs.
- Test the GFCI outlet by plugging in a lamp and pressing the "test" button. The power should cut off.
- Verify lights are working properly without sparks or flickering.
- Watch the fire pit operate for 10-15 minutes while monitoring wires. Turn off immediately if you see any wiring issues.
Following basic safety guidelines when planning your backyard bonfire pit design, installing wiring, and inspecting the electrical setup allows you to enjoy your fire pit for years to come without worries. Always place safety first when dealing with open flames and electricity.