Fire Pit Won't Stay Lit? Here's What You Need to Do
Author: Rick Worst | Editor: Omar Alonso
Review & Research: Jen Worst & Chris Miller
A fire pit can surely elevate any space and it even provides an aesthetic and rustic presence to your area. However, a common complaint that bothers many is "my fire pit won’t stay lit".
Now, there are quite a few reasons for this. Your fire pit might be low on propane, there might even be a blocked burner or even leaks, or you stacked your wood poorly. These are some of the common causes that may prevent your fire pit from staying lit.
So, want to know more in detail regarding this issue? Well, with no further ado, let’s get going with our advice below. We’ll cover propane fire pits, gas fire pits, and then your traditional wood fire pit, in that order.
Propane Fire Pit Won't Stay Lit
You could argue that propane fire pits are the most common. And they are pretty easy to work with as well. So, what are the reasons that might cause it to not function properly? Well, there are a couple.
Low on Propane
One of the main reasons why your fire pit won't stay lit could be that it is just out of fuel. So, if you are using a propane fire pit, start by checking the propane tank.
Maybe you haven't replaced or refilled it for a while. So, judging by how heavy (or light) it is, you can gauge whether or not you need to get a new one.
It might feel like a simple reason, but it’s one of the most solid reasons for your fire pit not staying lit.
A blocked burner can be the culprit as well. Over time, dirt and gunk can build up on the burner. Frequent maintenance and cleaning are important. This can stop your gas fire pit from staying lit.
It is best to give the burner a good wipe after every use. When you aren't using your fire pit, you should always cover it. This will keep those pesky bugs away and also keep dirt and debris out of the burner.
Leaks can not be only dangerous but will cause your fire pit to burn irregularly. Look for any kinds of leaks or small holes that are stopping the propane from burning uniformly. It should fix the issue right away.
Gas Fire Pit Won't Stay Lit
As we mentioned, some issues can apply to propane, gas, and wood fire pits altogether, like a blocked burner. However, some things that can prevent a gas fire pit, as well as these types of fireplaces, from staying lit are:
Kinks in the Supply Line
Since gas fire pits are hooked up directly to the main gas line, any kind of kinks will cause problems. Even the slightest of obstacles can easily distort the overall flow of the gas. Look for any awkward bends or tight squeezes in your supply line.
If you see any, just straighten it, and that should fix the problem. In some cases, the supply hose might be damaged. And you might need to just replace the whole thing altogether. If this is the case, go ahead and replace it. It isn't worth fiddling with a badly damaged hose.
Still Air in Supply Line
Another reason could be still air. If air is stuck in the supply line, you will see problems with the fire pit staying lit. You can try running gas through the line to get rid of the air. But there is something very important you need to keep in mind.
Ensure that no open flame is nearby. This can be disastrous and cause an explosion. Not something you would want. Especially in a residential area. Stuck air is trouble for propane fire pits as well.
Damaged Control Valve
The valve is used for controlling gas flow. As you might imagine, any kind of damage or defects here will cause an uneven flame. If nothing else works, give the control valve a quick check. It might be damaged.
Moreover, even your valve may be cutting off the gas supply, which can easily resist the fire pit to stay lit.
Wood Fire Pit Won't Stay Lit
You have to admit that there is something about wood fire pits that you can't quite replicate in any of the others. It is authentic and pretty satisfying to sit around a big fire pit (how big should a fire pit area be, by the way?). But working with a wood fire pit can also be pretty frustrating.
If your wood fire pit doesn't stay lit, there are mostly a few reasons. Most of it has to do with the wood itself. With propane or gas fire pits, the fuel is propane or gas. But with wood fire fits, the 'fuel' is the wood itself. So, the split logs need to be in perfect condition.
Wood is Too Thick
One of the most common reasons why a wood fire pit might refuse to stay lit is if the wood is too thick. You need to make sure the wood is the correct thickness. Here's the thing, not all the wood needs to be the same width. Otherwise, you will have a hard time keeping the flame alive.
The wood needs to be an assortment of small and thin pieces and large thicker pieces as well. This combination is the best way to get a long-lasting flame and an awesome blaze.
Wood is Wet
Moisture on your wood fire pit equals no fire. It's as simple as that. Wet wood has a hard time combusting. Therefore, dry wood is the best for fire pits. So, always ensure that you use dry wood when lighting your wood fire pit.
Improper Stacking of the Wood
Propane and gas fire pits are easy to set up. They have a simple supply line for the fuel. Since wood is the main fuel here, you need more technique to set it up correctly. The two important points are you need to ensure enough oxygen flow and heat.
Oxygen will keep the fire burning with bright flames. And when you have heat evenly spread across your wood fire pit, it will all burn evenly. Place the logs or wood in a way so that it can breathe.
You can try the cone, log cabin, or inverse pyramid methods of stacking the wood. I prefer the log cabin method because the wood falls in on itself and continues to feed the fire, where with the cone or pyramid the wood tends to fall in such a way that you have to intervene to keep the fire going.
We mean, don't cramp them too much. Also, you don't want to place too much firewood on the flame as well. This will also cause your fire to go out. That being said, you shouldn't place the wood too far apart. This will hamper the energy and heat flow. It's a bit of a balancing act.
Typically, creating a tipi shape (a conical tent) by standing the wood up vertically and leaning it in on itself with kindling in the middle is a great method. Stacking it up like a log cabin with gaps between the wood works as well. You have to know how to build and bank a fire properly to have great success.
It's all about generating heat in the center, having lighter material catch fire first, and then letting it all fall into the center as it burns. This creates a hot bed of ash that keeps the fire burning for hours upon hours. If you move wood around while it's lit, make sure you're using the right fire pit tools to do so.
Fire Pit Troubleshooting Steps
Now that you know the reasons your fire pit won't stay lit, finding out the problem should be easier. But, still, there are some effective and common troubleshooting you can take if your fire pit isn't working properly. You can keep the kids busy in the meantime while you fix it with any of these awesome outdoor activities for kids (and there's some for the grown-ups, too).
You can think of these as common or best practices to fix any kind of issue with your pit. We are always told to turn our electronic devices off and on again when they are misbehaving. Aren't we? These are the fire pit version of that.
Immediately Turn Off Gas Supply
If the fire pit isn't working, the safest thing to do is immediately turn off the gas supply. It isn't safe to keep the gas line running while you're diagnosing an issue. And be thorough about it. If you're using a propane pit, close the valve and also disconnect the tank.
Smelling Gas is No Good
If you are smelling gas, then it's a red alert. You should immediately turn off the gas line and check for any leaks. Gas leaks can be very dangerous. You are mainly looking for any kind of damage to the supply line.
It could be breaks or small cracks that are letting the gas out. You can also use a liquid to check for leaky areas. Trace the liquid through the pipe system.
Clean Your Burners
You would be surprised how few problems you'll face with your fire pits if you are just a bit more diligent with maintenance. A little bit of maintenance will go a long way. Always clean your burners. Use a simple vacuum machine or blow them out to clean.
Check the Ignitors
You should also check the ignitors. If there is no spark, your fuel won't light up. Sometimes you might just need to replace your ignitors if they are badly damaged. That can be less cumbersome. This is a good time to go ahead and check your valves and thermocouples as well.
Make Sure Your Tank Isn't Empty or Low
Obviously an empty propane tank is going to be incapable of keeping a fire lit, but even a low tank will have problems providing enough of a flow or volume of gas to the fire. Some tanks have safety valves that engage when the internal pressure in the tank is too low (meaning you're running out of gas) which blocks the flow of the remaining gas.
That’s Why Your Fire Pit Won’t Stay Lit!
If your fire pit won't stay lit, now you know all the possible reasons. This should allow you to fix any possible issues. But as the old saying goes, prevention is better than cure. Make sure you properly maintain your fire pit.