Fire pits are a fantastic addition to any backyard or patio, however keeping a fire pit looking its best and working efficiently and safely, requires maintenance. How much maintenance will depend on criteria such as the quality of construction, the materials from which it is made, the type fuel it burns and how it is kept when not in use.
Whilst they create a wonderful focal point for an entertaining area outdoors, it does leave them at the mercy of mother nature and the elements. Rain, snow, ice and the sun's rays all take a heavy toll on a fire pit, even those of the highest quality. Hands down, the best protection you can provide for your fire pit is to use a cover when it is not in use. If yours is a portable fire pit and is not used for extended periods of time, storing it inside or under a dry covered area is the best option. If you do this you will not only be keeping the lifespan of your fire pit and protecting your investment you will also be reducing the amount of maintenance needed to keep it looking and performing at its best. Covers are available in all shapes and sizes so finding one to suit should not be a problem.
Removing the ashes is very important for the longevity of your fire pit as they are very acidic and destructive to both metal and masonry.
If a wood burning fire pit is well built using fire rated materials then very little maintenance is required other than the removal of the above mentioned ashes !! If standard bricks are used in the construction and not protected using a metal fire ring liner or fire rated bricks then they will indeed crack and need to be replaced.
Metal fire pits are suspect to rusting, in fact rusting is inevitable, but some metals such as cast iron are rust rather than others. Protective coatings and fire resistant paint are usually applied, however this may wear off or get damaged over time leaving it vulnerable. Dealing with rust early on is important. You can remove it easily with a stiff wire brush, wire wool or wallpaper and after wiping off any dust, reapply the protective coating. You should find what you need at most home improvement stores, just make sure you choose a primer and paint that is specific to both high temperature and metal.
There are pros and cons for all metal fire pits. Cast iron is brittle and has poor impact resistance. If moving your cast iron fire pit or Chimenea, be very careful, do not drop it or it may crack !! Steel makes for a strong, durable fire pit. The heavier the gauge of steel used, the longer the life of the fire pit! Some fire features are even designed to allow for natural rusting, giving them a charming rustic appeal. Copper does't rust in the same way as cast iron and steel but it does develop an attractive green / blue patina if left alone. However if you prefer the aesthetic appeal of shiny reddish copper, then cleaning and / or polishing will be required. The same goes for stainless steel, a bit of elbow grease is required to keep it looking new !! As durable as both materials are, they are still ahead to pitting and discolouration from fire and ash and are both substantially more expensive materials!
If you use your fire pit for grilling, then make sure you clean your grills / grates after use, removing grease and charred meat. Use warm soapy water for this and a wire brush. However if the grills are made from cast iron make sure you dry them thoroughly and coat lightly in cooking oil for protection.
A word of advice, do not use water to put out the fire, this may cause the metal or masonry to crack with the sudden drop in temperature!
Gas burning fire pits come with a set of instructions which should be carefully followed for both safety and longevity. The burners will need to be cleaned regularly as insects nests and debris can cause blockages. Fire glass is easily removed and cleaned easily.
Take just a few precautionary measures, and you will probably double the lifetime of your fire pit.