Fire pits add a comforting ambiance to a space as well as warmth. They draw people together and create a relaxing environment. They can also bring a romantic touch to an evening when it’s just yourself and a special someone else. But many of us have covered our porches to add shade and keep our heads dry. Unfortunately, the roof complicates getting a fire pit.
Firepits can be used on a covered porch provided it’s placement meets regulations. This will be determined by the construction of your porch, including roof height, flooring material, and proximity to flammable objects. It is best to position the fire pit right on the outside of your covered porch.
While a straight “yes” or “no” answer makes life simpler, there isn’t one when it comes to having a firepit on a covered porch. It is a matter of case by case, taking into account various factors, including where you live. Thankfully, there are alternatives to a firepit if it turns out your covered porch can’t have one.
Assessing If You Can Use A Firepit On Your Covered Porch
To determine if your covered porch can have a firepit, you need to assess a number of factors. These include:
- Laws, regulations, and insurance requirements
- Ceiling height
- Type of firepit
Once these factors have been assessed, you will know if your covered porch can have a firepit or if it is better to consider alternatives.
Laws, Regulations, and Insurance: Firepit On A Covered Porch
The first thing you need to do when looking into putting in a firepit on your covered porch is fine out the local laws and regulations, any national guidelines, and if it will impact your home insurance.
In North America, there are regulations drawn up by the CSA in Canada and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Some local regulations and insurance companies will only allow you to have firepits that have been CSA or ANSI certified.
The local and national laws will also determine the minimum heights for ceilings, how much ventilation is required, types of approved flooring, how near it can be near a wall or a flammable object, and may have rules regarding types of firepits. For example, wood-burning stoves and firepits are not allowed in some areas, and you’ll be limited to gas, such as propane.
Ceiling Height: Firepit On A Covered Porch
You will need to accurately measure your ceiling height to determine if your covered porch can have a firepit. The ceiling height will need to be checked against local and national regulations and be used to assess which firepits are appropriate options. Many manufactures provide guidelines to help you too.
Damage to ceilings isn’t just caused by wood-burning pits flaring and starting a fire. Even propane pits that won’t flair can still damage ceilings due to heat and emissions being too close. This damage won’t necessarily be immediately apparent. It can take over a year for the true extent of the damage to reveal itself. Nor is it just a cosmetic factor, but a structural risk too.
Ventilation: Firepit On A Covered Porch
There will be ventilation requirements regardless of whether you use a gas or wood-burning firepit. Some areas will only require specific vents to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Some places insist one side of the porch is entirely open, others two or three.
Even if your area has minimal regulations, ventilation is still an important consideration. Smoke can be highly toxic and gas accidentally left on, and unlit can kill people. Thus, at the very least, have a vent installed and follow the manufacture’s guidelines.
Flooring: Firepit On A Covered Porch
The floor of your porch is the next point of assessment. The most problematic floors are combustible materials such as:
- Wooden composite
- Vinyl flooring
Ideally, you want flooring made from:
If you have a combustible floor, such as wood, some people can fix this by building a “platform” for their firepit or use a heat resistant fire mat (available on Amazon). This is much like a hearth made for a stove fireplace. However, you will also need to assess the weight and structural support before taking such a route.
Some firepits also come with stands or supports that make them less problematic for combustible flooring. But you’ll need to read the manufacturer’s guidelines and put in some research before purchase.
Positioning: Firepit On A Covered Porch
Like the height of your ceiling, the distance a firepit has from walls and other combustible items, such as a tree beside your porch, will determine if you can have a firepit and what type. For example, you cannot have a firepit too close to a structural wall.
Your best bet will be positioning your fire pit on the edge of your fire pit which may not be covered by the ceiling. You can now sit under the ceiling, but you don’t have to worry about the heat melting anything.
You may also need to assess the safety of any furniture that will be near the firepit and make different arrangements for any potted plants that have been on your porch. Sometimes it is as simple as backing them up another foot or two.
Type Of Firepit For Your Covered Porch
The type of firepit you install may not be the one you initially envisioned. For example, the rules and regulations may prevent you from having, say, a wood-burning firepit. Also, your flooring and ceiling height might eliminate other options.
Accessories might help expand your options or at least make a firepit safer. These include:
- Firepit pad
- Spark screens
- Adding sand to the bottom of the firepit
- Fire extinguisher
Alternatives To Firepits For A Covered Porch
Sometimes a covered porch simply isn’t a good fit for a firepit. This could be due to its size, structural issues, your home insurance’s rules, or simply living in an area where the rules and regulations make the whole exercise shockingly expensive. Thus, if you are still looking for warmth or ambiance, some alternatives may work for your situation.
Electric Or Gas Patio Heaters For A Covered Porch
If your primary objective is to keep the evening chill off the grandparents, consider getting a freestanding patio heater. Some are free-standing, while others can be mounted on the wall or ceiling. If you want an electric version, this infrared model will keep you warm. Many models can be operated even if your porch is completely enclosed, the floor is wooden, and the space is tight.
Fireplace For A Covered Porch
Installing a fireplace with a chimney or a ventless gas system can sometimes be a better option for some covered spaces. There is an excellent range of options, including see-through fireplaces, which are a bit like an aquarium for fire. Because the glass panels are within a brick or stone casing, a lot of the problems with a firepit are eliminated.
Underfloor Heating For A Covered Porch
Underfloor heating can be a lovely option for those with the funds. It is great for those who don’t like heaters and live in strict areas that don’t allow any firepit or fireplace.
Assessing if your covered porch can have a firepit will take a lot of research. Be sure to take accurate measurements of the ceiling and distances of any walls, too. If your porch isn’t suitable, you can also consider alternatives. Wishing you much luck and cozy nights.