Before building a fireplace, understand the building codes in the area. Each region has specific guidelines for building outdoor fireplaces.
Do I need a Permit to Build a Fire Pit/FirePlace?
You will need a permit to build an outdoor fireplace if the fireplace is passed a certain height. Consult building codes before moving on to the planning phase. There may be other restrictions you need to know about, such as those guiding you not to get too close to the trees.
This is one question every homeowner desiring to have an outdoor fireplace must ask themselves. The last thing you want is to get in trouble with the law for ignoring a basic building code or requirement.
Note that the specific regulations are dependent on the states and counties you come from, so it’s good to research your local town rules and regulations.
Generally, all states and counties will have a general expectation regarding guidance on this subject. For instance, fireplaces should always be built away from structures and trees for obvious reasons: they can easily become fire hazards. You may also want to confirm with your local authorities what the fire department and local authorities consider recreational fires.
You will note that the recommended safety varies from one place to the next. Some areas recommend a safety distance between 20 to 30 feet from buildings and trees to prevent accidental fires. Below are some general rules that apply to recreational fires in most places.
The fire pit should use regular fuel only. This means you must get tinder or firewood only for such fireplaces and avoid using garbage or waste material as fuel.
Such fireplaces are to be used exclusively in the open and outdoors. Do not create an indoor fireplace with the same specifications.
The fireplace should not be used for other purposes, whether related or not, except for what it was intended for.
Besides these general rules, some local authorities may demand that a fire extinguisher be placed close to the fireplace. The most important thing is to follow the guidelines of the fireplace installation in your area, as this is what matters most.
Getting Permits to Build a Fireplace in your Locality
The restrictions to have an outdoor fireplace built are dependent on the state you are from. Most areas will not have strict guidelines if you stick to the basic safety rules. One thing most local authorities take seriously is the type of fuel used for outdoor fireplaces.
Burning waste materials is prohibited in most of these areas. Usually, such waste materials are major pollutants, and others tend to emit toxic residues into the environment. Their environmental impact is not worth it, so they should be avoided at all costs.
Some of these materials are prohibited because they pollute the air and are a health risk. They include:
- Residual oil
- Biological waste
- Used oil
- Roofing materials and asbestos-based materials
- Asphalt and used oil
- Trash and plastics
- Hazardous materials such as devices containing mercury
- Tires and rubber
- Treated wood
- Hazardous wastes
From the list above, it is obvious that all the restricted materials prohibited from being burned in the fireplace are meant to prevent environmental pollution. Most local authorities across the country will emphasize environmental protection. This is something that applies to all open fires.
Besides the material you are allowed and prohibited to use on such open fireplaces, you must also understand that other rules apply when using open fires. For one, you should never leave an outdoor fireplace unattended. This rule applies to outdoor fireplaces, campfires, and ceremonial bonfires.
What are the Rules for Building an Outdoor Fireplace?
One must pay attention to some vital aspects when building a fireplace. You must be sure of what you are doing before you get to it. This means that planning should always be a priority.
Get your measurements right and build the fireplace based on local authorities’ specifications. Most fireplaces will have a diameter of 35 to 45 inches and a height that does not exceed 14 inches. Most people opt for a height they can easily place their feet on.
The material also used matters. Make sure never to use porous materials for building. Porous materials can trap steam and could cause explosions; hence are not the best for this kind of fireplace.
Using a fire ring is also highly recommended as it protects the fireplace from direct fire impact, which in turn helps with dehydration and prevents the fire pit from crumbling.
What are the Safety Precautions to Observe when Building and Using a Fireplace?
Some safety precautions may seem trivial or obvious, but the surprising thing is that many people make the same mistake. Highlighted below are some of the safety measures that make open or outdoor fireplaces safe all the time.
- It would be best if you never left a fireplace in use unattended.
- Never compromise on the fuel to use. Avoid using accelerants such as lighter fluid or gasoline to light the furnace
- Always remove all the ashes from the fireplace before starting a new fire. This is the best way to keep things clear and light the fire faster.
- Watch out for kids and pets around the fireplace. Note that kids and pets move on a whim, so you must be watchful and careful.
- Use the right-sized firewood. Make sure it never passes the fire p[it’s edge
- Stop fuelling the fire at least an hour before you get inside. This allows the fire to die down slowly and prevents any accidental fires in case of an outbreak.
Is it worth it to Hire a Professional
You may be excellent at DIYs, but fireplace buildings are a different ball game. It is better to have professional help with the specifications. Outdoor fireplaces are great, but they need to be done right.
Hire a building expert that understands how to build a good fireplace for your outdoor space. You may have to pay a little extra for this, but the safety and integrity of the structure will be guaranteed.
- Outdoor fireplaces have to be made with specific measurements
- Safety should always be a key consideration for outdoor fireplace use
- Outdoor fireplaces need the right fuel to work well