Winter is over and you’re ready for some relaxing evenings outside. But, is your gas fire pit ready for you? If you don’t prep it properly, you could be in for a nasty surprise.
Your fire feature, whether it was stored indoors or not, needs a good “once over.” Use our handy checklist to make sure you’ve got all the bases covered.
Guide to Spring Cleaning Your Fire Pit Feature
Before beginning, make sure the gas is turned OFF.
1. Remove and clean cover.
If you have a vinyl cover, wash it with soapy water inside and out. (Spiders like to build nests inside so it’s a good idea to get them all cleared out in preparation for next fall’s winterizing.)
2. Remove media (fire glass or lava rocks).
Use gloves for this step. Fire glass can have some sharp edges.
Clean the fire glass with a 50/50 water and vinegar solution using a stainless steel mesh strainer and a bucket. Gently dunk the strainer in the bucket of solution and lightly swish the rocks around while submerged. For more details, see our article on cleaning fire glass.
Lava rock can be cleaned by rinsing it with water.
Spread media out to air dry while continuing with the checklist.
3. Inspect pans and burners.
Look for damage that may have been caused by moisture over the winter.
Cleaning tarnish: A stainless steel pan can be freshened up by liberally applying vinegar and allowing it to sit for at least 10 minutes, and then rubbing with a soft cloth.
Cleaning discoloration: High heat can often lead to areas of discoloration. To clean this, cover the surface liberally with vinegar as above, then sprinkle with baking soda forming a paste. Allow it to sit for 15 minutes and rub with a soft cloth. If you need a bit more scrubbing power than that, you can use a non-metal scouring pad (like those found on the back of your kitchen sponge.)
Rinse using a bucket of clean water and a sponge until all residue has been wiped away. Dry with a towel.
Never use steel wool or a steel brush on your stainless steel pan. It will scratch the surface causing damage that can eventually lead to rust.
4. Check hoses and fittings.
Inspect hoses for damage that may have occurred over the winter due to temperature fluctuations or gnawing rodents.
If you are using propane, we recommend fully inspecting and cleaning the air mixer, as spiders love to make nests in this device. The best way to do this is to unscrew the mixer from the tank hose and from the burner.
Removing the device gives you full access to see if there are any insects in your residence. It also makes it much easier to clean the holes of the mixer. This can be done by washing the mixer in warm, soapy water or running a toothpick through each hole.
5. Cleaning the Igniter.
Double-check to make sure the gas is turned OFF. Inspect the igniter for damage including the igniter wire.
Battery-operated igniter. Assuming you followed best practices in the fall, you removed the batteries before last winter to avoid corrosion. If there is no visible damage to the igniter, you are ready to put in new batteries and test it.
If everything is in order, when you press the igniter button you will hear crackling noise and see a blue spark at the tip of your igniter.
6. Cleaning the Housing of Your Fire Pit or Table.
Fall and winter can bring lots of leaves, debris, and dirt. Cleaning most of this away is easy with a leaf blower. Or, a good sturdy broom will work too.
Make sure there is nothing inside the housing of your unit that could be a fire hazard. All vents must be open and clear, inside and out. Proper ventilation is crucial to safely operate your fire pit.
Once all the debris has been removed, you can focus on cleaning the surfaces. It’s as simple as washing your car. All you need is warm soapy water and a sponge to scrub down the external surfaces (and the inside of any cabinet too if you like). Depending on the surface, you may want to wipe it down with a towel or simply allow it to air dry.
7. Check surroundings.
Things can shift during the winter. Take a good look at the area around your fire feature, checking for low-hanging branches from nearby trees or shrubs that could be a potential fire hazard.
Also, check the placement of your furniture and fire features to be sure they are at appropriate distances from each other and from any structures nearby.
8. Test Time.
After everything has been cleaned and inspected, and you’ve double-checked the hoses and fittings for proper installation, it’s go time. You can turn the gas on and test your fire feature.
We recommend running the test before replacing the fire media. This allows you to see the burner with no obstruction and make sure that it is burning evenly with flame coming from each outlet. If not, you can troubleshoot that before moving forward.
You can now put the fire media back if all is well. If you’re using fire glass, consider adding a new layer of glass over the existing layer to freshen things up. Note: Where the burner is concerned, add only enough fire glass to lightly cover it—just enough that you don’t readily see it. The glass layer in this area should be less than an inch to ensure a proper burn and decrease soot.
Some people decide to change the look of their fire feature with a new glass color at the beginning of a new season. Check out the Celestial Fire Glass website for our latest offerings and inspiration.
Important Note: Whether you are using lava rocks or glass, make sure the igniter does not have media laying against it. If your device has a thermocouple (flame sensor), be sure the box is not covered. Keeping these clear will ensure that your flame stays lit.
9. Accessorize for Optimum Enjoyment.
If you are not making use of a glass flame/wind guard, we highly recommend that you add one to your fire table. It will greatly improve the operation. Not only does it protect the flames against evening breezes making it safer and more efficient, but it also helps prevent soot buildup around the burners.
Fire it Up!
With your media back in place and the fire pit looking brand new, it’s time for your final test. Light the fire pit and let it burn for at least 15-20 minutes. If the flame won’t stay lit, check the placement of your media and make sure it is not covering your igniter or box. This should resolve the issue.
Taking a little time at the beginning of the season to run through this spring maintenance checklist, will reward you with months of carefree evenings around the fire. Invite your friends and family, grab your favorite beverage, and enjoy your handiwork.
Here to Help. If you’re unsure about something or need a little help troubleshooting a problem, the team at Celestial Fire Glass is at your service. We’re always happy to assist you in getting your fire pit in optimum working condition.