The Dakota Fire Hole is a unique type of fire pit dug into the ground with one hole for fire and another for airflow. The advantage of this style is that, when placed near a tree, it disburses smoke better.
The downside is that you need firm, easy-to-dig soil, and it quickly fills with water when it rains. How do fire pits drain? I’ll explain all you need to know about draining fire pits.
Most fire pits don’t come with any drainage. Consider drilling 4 small drainage holes 1-inch thick around the bottom of the fire pit or add a 3-inch steel shower drainpipe to the bottom of a permanent fire pit. Without proper drainage, fire pits can become waterlogged causing it not to light and can corrode the materials causing rust problems.
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How Do You Drain Water From A Fire Pit
There are several ways to drain water from a fire pit. It is a bad idea to leave standing water inside your fire pit as it can do a lot of damage over time, yet most don’t come with any built-in solution for this common problem.
If you use a portable, above-ground fire pit, then tipping it on its side will spill all the water out quickly.
The list below offers six other solutions for drying out fire pits.
- Patience and Evaporation – You can leave a fire pit uncovered. Over time the water will evaporate thanks to the sun and heat. However, this method is less effective in damp environments, and it can take a very long time. Additionally, regardless of the container, leaving standing water will attract mosquitoes, which lay their eggs in still waters.
- Pump It Out – You can use a small handheld pump to suck the water out manually. This method is relatively quick, but it can be labor-intensive, especially when you own a larger fire pit.
- ShopVac – ShopVacs are one of the most helpful household items a homeowner can keep around. These wet and dry vacuums can clean up water on floors, in carpets, and even from your fire pit. Moreover, the suction will help dry the surface faster as it pulls air toward the pipe.
- Drainage Pipe – If you are installing a tabletop or countertop fire pit, you should add a drainage pipe to the bottom of the bowl for water removal. This method is most effective when you use a propane or ethanol-style fire pit. If your pit burns wood, the ash and charcoal may clog the pipe. I recommend adding a heavy-duty, perforated metal drain cover. By doing this, you can also use the pour-water method to put out your fire and cool off the fire pit more quickly.
- Drainage Holes – You can quickly and easily add a series of small, evenly spaced drainage holes around the base of any fire pit with a drill. Choose the right bit and setting for the material of your pit and mark out four to eight spots where you want to add drainage around the lowest point of the bowl. You may want to add a central hole as well. Then, drill from the inside to the outside, so any material pushes outward and doesn’t create a barrier to hold water in. You may also need to sand or remove excess material that sticks out from the drill holes to make them flush with the surface.
- Dig A Channel – If your fire pit is set into the ground, I recommend digging a small channel for water to flow away from the pit. Taking the time to do this will give any rain that falls in your fire pit an opportunity to flow away from where you build fires. Ensure that the channel slopes downward, away from the fire pit. You can use a similar method for above-ground permanent fire pits, like those lined with bricks, by adding a two to three-inch diameter hole at or just below ground level and then installing either a channel or a pipe to move the water away.
How Does A Sunken Fire Pit Drain
Typically, people forget to add drainage to a sunken fire pit. Instead, they let it evaporate naturally when water gets inside.
However, this oversight is easily corrected, even when the fire pit is already built. I will walk you through a straightforward way to create drainage.
First, you need to dig a trench. The bottom of the channel needs to be level with the lowest point in your fire pit and slope downward slightly as it moves away.
Then you can backfill the trench with rocks or gravel. Doing this leaves plenty of space for the water to run away from the fire pit.
Once you have the stench in place, you can cover the top over with dirt to prevent tripping. Alternately, you could opt to put a metal pipe in place, but you will need a screen to prevent it from getting clogged.
However, it would be best never to use PVC pipes to drain a fire pit because the plastic can melt.
Do Fire Pits Need Drainage
Fire pits do not technically need drainage when you burn wood. While it’s a good idea to prevent mosquitoes, the water will evaporate eventually.
Unfortunately, if you have a gas-fed fire pit, you need either a way to drain off water or a good lid. I strongly recommend including drainage in any fire pit you build.
Mosquitoes kill more people per year than sharks, bears, or any other animal. Providing breeding grounds in the water that collects in your fire pit would be foolish at best.
According to RTI.org, “Though only female mosquitoes feed on humans, the mosquito remains the deadliest animal in the world. Even today, the mosquito is responsible for over 1 million deaths each year.”
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’re going to add a way for the water to inundate the ground below.
For this project, you’ll need a sturdy metal grate, a shovel, and some gravel. All you are going to do is give the water somewhere to go, so it doesn’t act like a bathtub and fill up.
Remove any rocks or lining and dig 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.
Helpful Tips To Know How Fire Pits Drain
Don’t let your fire pit become a mosquito breeding ground. Leaving an uncovered pit to collect water is an awful plan. Fortunately, there are several easy fixes depending on the style of pit you use.
Here are more helpful tips to know how fire pits drain.
- Fire pits aren’t the only places people frequently forget to add drainage. Grills are often sources of water collection in your yard.
- When building a fire pit in your yard, it’s essential to line the bottom with sand. This cost-effective material “…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,” according to Medium.
- If you are building above ground, consider using kiln-fired pavers around the sides 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.
Traditional fire pits don’t have any drainage, and a pit set the ground will need to evaporate or soak into the earth below. Even modern versions seldom include a simple drainage solution, leaving you to dump or pump them manually.
When you plan to keep your fire pit outdoors and uncovered, adding drainage is a good idea. That’s said, if your fire pit is made from any type of metal, even stainless steel, you should cover it adequately to prevent water pooling.
A good lid will keep out more than moisture which can corrode the metal. Accumulated debris can clog pipes for propane and ethanol fire pits.
I recommend having drainage in case of accidental water and a high-quality cover to keep everything out when the pit is not in use.