Outdoor Firepit Problems

 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 09-26-2016, 10:21 PM   #1
Registered User
 
Aspirebuilders's Avatar
 
Trade: General contractor
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: New Jersey
Posts: 7

Outdoor Firepit Problems


Hi all,
I am having some problems with an exterior fire pit I recently built. The firepit was an afterthought that I added to the project to help with a grading issue (built on the corner of a raised patio so that I could go from one riser on one side to a two riser staircase on the other). Anyway I don't have much experience with firepits, so I let my mason contractor build it the way he saw fit. What he came up with is an inner structure of 8 inch block that is covered by cultured stone on the exterior and a parging on the interior. The top is then capped with 2'' brownstone. I thought everything looked great until I went to go see it this morning (homeowner had built a fire in it for the first time this weekend). As it turns out, the heat from the fire caused the inner mortar to crack in a bunch of different places. Additionally, one of the brownstone mortar joints had a large crack in it which almost looked like the stone had moved. After seeing the damage, I started doing research and began realizing that my mason should have used refractory mortar for the inside and possibly to set the brownstone caps. My question is, as a repair, if I scratch the inside mortar and put a coat of refactory mortar over it is that going to be enough. Is there something else I should use? I don't have enough overhang on the brownstone caps to line it with firebrick so that's out unless I want to replace it all. I was thinking about possibly bending up a metal (aluminum or copper) as some sort of liner. Does anyone have any suggestions? I included a picture of the pit in use that the homeowner sent to me over the weekend. Let me know what you guys think. Thanks in advance.
Attached Thumbnails
Outdoor firepit problems-image_1474942706712.jpeg  
Aspirebuilders is offline  

Warning: The topics covered on this site include activities in which there exists the potential for serious injury or death. ContractorTalk.com DOES NOT guarantee the accuracy or completeness of any information contained on this site. Always use proper safety precaution and reference reliable outside sources before attempting any construction or remodeling task!

   

Advertisement

 

Old 09-26-2016, 10:41 PM   #2
Pro
 
JBM's Avatar
 
Trade: Masonry
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Mass.
Posts: 7,101
Rewards Points: 2,838

Re: Outdoor Firepit Problems


Would have been nice to do it slightly different, the problem with simply parging it with a refractory mortar is it wont keep it from expanding from the heat.

A custom metal liner might be the best bet. Or just take it apart and line it with firebricks and rebuild.

Advertisement

JBM is offline  
The Following User Says Thank You to JBM For This Useful Post:
fjn (09-27-2016)
Old 09-26-2016, 10:41 PM   #3
Pro
 
JBM's Avatar
 
Trade: Masonry
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Mass.
Posts: 7,101
Rewards Points: 2,838

Re: Outdoor Firepit Problems


Was it a mason or a landscaper?
JBM is offline  
The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to JBM For This Useful Post:
brickhook (09-27-2016), Jaws (10-25-2017), Tinstaafl (09-26-2016)
   
 
Old 09-26-2016, 11:03 PM   #4
Capra aegagrus

 
Tinstaafl's Avatar
 
Trade: Remodeler
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Central Pennsylvania
Posts: 21,320
Rewards Points: 150

Re: Outdoor Firepit Problems


I'd never try parging CMU's for such an application. At the least, that thing should have been lined with firebrick.
Tinstaafl is online now  
The Following User Says Thank You to Tinstaafl For This Useful Post:
brickhook (09-27-2016)
Old 09-27-2016, 07:09 AM   #5
Pro
 
brickhook's Avatar
 
Trade: masonry
Join Date: May 2012
Location: Claudville Va
Posts: 2,854
Rewards Points: 5,842

Re: Outdoor Firepit Problems


Pretty much whatever you do now is just putting a band aid on it.

With CMU's and cultured stone....several real hot fires and the stone will probably start popping off.

Lining the pit with fire brick would've certainly been the best.

Good luck
brickhook is offline  
The Following User Says Thank You to brickhook For This Useful Post:
fjn (09-27-2016)
Old 09-27-2016, 07:43 AM   #6
Registered User
 
Aspirebuilders's Avatar
 
Trade: General contractor
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: New Jersey
Posts: 7

Re: Outdoor Firepit Problems


That's what I was afraid of. It was my mason, but I had never had him do something like this before for me. Guess I learned two things, one how to build a firepit, and two that my mason doesn't know how to. Okay, so if I tear the caps off and line the interior with firebrick, then cover the top with wider brownstone would that do the trick? I need to make it right so I have to come up with something. I really don't want to start from scratch as this thing is built into a patio with lights, intersecting treads, etc. The bottom of it consists of a 8" concrete slab and the sides as I said are 8" block that has a parging over it. Will the firebrick stop enough of the heat from popping the cultured stone? So I know for sure, do I use the 1 1/4'' firebrick that usually comes in a package of 6 and use refractory mortar to adhere them to the block like tile? Sorry if they are novice questions, but I believe I am going to have to do it myself as I made final payment to my X-mason and he hasn't returned my calls. Seems like no one owns up to their work anymore.
Aspirebuilders is offline  
Old 09-27-2016, 04:37 PM   #7
Pro
 
Windycity's Avatar
 
Trade: Masonry
Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: chicago
Posts: 1,073
Rewards Points: 4,556

Re: Outdoor Firepit Problems


Quote:
Originally Posted by Aspirebuilders View Post
That's what I was afraid of. It was my mason, but I had never had him do something like this before for me. Guess I learned two things, one how to build a firepit, and two that my mason doesn't know how to. Okay, so if I tear the caps off and line the interior with firebrick, then cover the top with wider brownstone would that do the trick? I need to make it right so I have to come up with something. I really don't want to start from scratch as this thing is built into a patio with lights, intersecting treads, etc. The bottom of it consists of a 8" concrete slab and the sides as I said are 8" block that has a parging over it. Will the firebrick stop enough of the heat from popping the cultured stone? So I know for sure, do I use the 1 1/4'' firebrick that usually comes in a package of 6 and use refractory mortar to adhere them to the block like tile? Sorry if they are novice questions, but I believe I am going to have to do it myself as I made final payment to my X-mason and he hasn't returned my calls. Seems like no one owns up to their work anymore.


Do you have a picture of it in the daylight? They also have thin firebricks as well that might be an option if you need to line in. I am suspicious about the fact that type N cracked after the first fire. We built alot of fire places with type n and they didnt crack at all however the customers use gas logs so there is not alot of heat compared to a real fire where someone packs a ton of wood in there.

I am wondering if maybe settling is causing the crack instead of the heat? I say this because most of the heat goes straight up into the open air.

What is this thing sitting on? Is there some sort of foundation or is it sitting on gravel/earth?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Windycity is online now  
Old 09-27-2016, 06:17 PM   #8
Pro
 
JBM's Avatar
 
Trade: Masonry
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Mass.
Posts: 7,101
Rewards Points: 2,838

Re: Outdoor Firepit Problems


If you lay the firebricks the 2 1/2" way versus the 4" way it may still be a long shot that it wont have issues. I would like to see the bricks laid like actual bricks, laying down flat, 4" , put together with heatstop 50 only.

Youll have to come up with what I would imagine would be 16" cap stones. Or form and pour a colored concrete cap done pretty.
JBM is offline  
The Following User Says Thank You to JBM For This Useful Post:
fjn (09-27-2016)
Old 09-27-2016, 07:27 PM   #9
Pro
 
fjn's Avatar
 
Trade: mason
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 4,239
Rewards Points: 8,156

Re: Outdoor Firepit Problems


As the others have stated,firebrick is the way to go. That is how it got it's name. The bricks laid as stretchers + 1/2" air gap is the way to go.
fjn is offline  
Old 09-27-2016, 08:27 PM   #10
Contractor of the Month
 
Inner10's Avatar
 
Trade: Control Systems
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Ottawa, ON
Posts: 22,099
Rewards Points: 9,188

Re: Outdoor Firepit Problems


Quote:
Originally Posted by Aspirebuilders View Post
That's what I was afraid of. It was my mason, but I had never had him do something like this before for me. Guess I learned two things, one how to build a firepit, and two that my mason doesn't know how to. Okay, so if I tear the caps off and line the interior with firebrick, then cover the top with wider brownstone would that do the trick? I need to make it right so I have to come up with something. I really don't want to start from scratch as this thing is built into a patio with lights, intersecting treads, etc. The bottom of it consists of a 8" concrete slab and the sides as I said are 8" block that has a parging over it. Will the firebrick stop enough of the heat from popping the cultured stone? So I know for sure, do I use the 1 1/4'' firebrick that usually comes in a package of 6 and use refractory mortar to adhere them to the block like tile? Sorry if they are novice questions, but I believe I am going to have to do it myself as I made final payment to my X-mason and he hasn't returned my calls. Seems like no one owns up to their work anymore.
Look at the address on his invoice, drive there, tell him in person.
__________________
The Following User Says Thank You to Inner10 For This Useful Post: Leo G
Inner10 is offline  
Old 09-27-2016, 09:15 PM   #11
Pro
 
Windycity's Avatar
 
Trade: Masonry
Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: chicago
Posts: 1,073
Rewards Points: 4,556

Re: Outdoor Firepit Problems


Quote:
Originally Posted by Inner10 View Post
Look at the address on his invoice, drive there, tell him in person.


lol thats the best way and when you see him tell him that the ringer on his phone must be off or something


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Windycity is online now  
Old 09-27-2016, 11:33 PM   #12
Pro
 
superseal's Avatar
 
Trade: Masonry / Carpentry Construction and Restoration
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Southeastern PA
Posts: 6,308
Rewards Points: 4,630

Re: Outdoor Firepit Problems


That design is surely to explode or quickly implode and would never pass an inspection around these parts. Put a liner in it and call it a pond

The blue herons will love it!

On a more serious note...I'd probably weld up some 11ga. hot rolled and make a box insert with drainage. You'll have to be creative with how you'll handle the top termination but a healthy, ventilated airspace would be beneficial.
__________________
"Under promise, over deliver and all that!" JBM
supersealconstruction.com

https://www.facebook.com/Superseal-C...2699413750013/
superseal is online now  
Old 10-03-2016, 05:58 PM   #13
Registered User
 
Nbt's Avatar
 
Trade: Massonary
Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: Huntsville
Posts: 1

Re: Outdoor Firepit Problems


Take all the pargeing off the inside then grind in a slot for a angle iron put that in with fire cement then buy a clay flew and drop er in place re grout your cap with a rich s type mix like start from sand and powder 4 hovels of sand 7 s type add what ever colour you want (mix all of this dry first btw even your colour its more even) then bag er in and tool it good as new but better
Nbt is offline  
Old 10-03-2016, 08:27 PM   #14
Pro
 
JBM's Avatar
 
Trade: Masonry
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Mass.
Posts: 7,101
Rewards Points: 2,838

Re: Outdoor Firepit Problems


JBM is offline  
The Following User Says Thank You to JBM For This Useful Post:
Kniggit (10-03-2016)
Old 10-03-2016, 09:26 PM   #15
Pro
 
superseal's Avatar
 
Trade: Masonry / Carpentry Construction and Restoration
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Southeastern PA
Posts: 6,308
Rewards Points: 4,630

Re: Outdoor Firepit Problems


That's the ticket!
Attached Images
 
__________________
"Under promise, over deliver and all that!" JBM
supersealconstruction.com

https://www.facebook.com/Superseal-C...2699413750013/
superseal is online now  
The Following User Says Thank You to superseal For This Useful Post:
JBM (10-03-2016)
Old 10-07-2016, 10:48 AM   #16
Pro
 
MikeFL's Avatar
 
Trade: Engineer
Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: Fort Myers, FL
Posts: 183
Rewards Points: 196

Re: Outdoor Firepit Problems


I'd take it apart, build it with firebrick and make it a little smaller. Give them some fresh air intake down low too. And get 8" firebrick between the fire side and that electric to the lighting.
__________________
Michael Gookin, President
GPS LightLock Astronomical Timers
www.GPSLightLock.com
(239) 848-6675
MikeFL is offline  
The Following User Says Thank You to MikeFL For This Useful Post:
JBM (10-09-2016)
Old 10-08-2016, 10:46 PM   #17
Pro
 
Fouthgeneration's Avatar
 
Trade: Masonry
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: Mid west
Posts: 1,459
Rewards Points: 5,123

Re: Outdoor Firepit Problems


A stainless steel liner pot that is about 2 " smaller then the old fire pit on 1"-2" legs that would keep most of the radiant heat off the CMUs and sill stone might work with non bonfire type campfires.... Double walled even better.... think stove inside of Faux firepit...

Built in handles for dumping the out the cold ashes...
Fouthgeneration is offline  
Old 10-25-2017, 03:03 PM   #18
Registered User
 
Markelmack109's Avatar
 
Trade: yard Maintenance
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: buffalo
Posts: 1
Rewards Points: 2

Re: Outdoor Firepit Problems


we had built one for a customer and had a liner built to protect the stone work.
Attached Thumbnails
Outdoor firepit problems-img_0032.jpg   Outdoor firepit problems-zikko-fire-pit.jpg  
Markelmack109 is offline  
The Following User Says Thank You to Markelmack109 For This Useful Post:
fjn (10-25-2017)
Old 10-25-2017, 05:14 PM   #19
Member
 
ismaels's Avatar
 
Trade: concrete flat work
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Clearview, WA
Posts: 34
Rewards Points: 68

Re: Outdoor Firepit Problems


It needs to be line with firebrick and refractory mortar. Can you add a layer to the inside? Just pasting over the current mortar is not going to help. Other idea is to turn it into a planter!

Ismael
Ismaels Construction Bellevue
ismaels is offline  
Old 10-25-2017, 10:52 PM   #20
Pro
 
Tscarborough's Avatar
 
Trade: Monkey Scratching Cat Herder
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Austin
Posts: 6,312
Rewards Points: 1,378

Re: Outdoor Firepit Problems


It is an old post.

This is what I tell the people that want to build a firepit in their yard:

Do you want to burn ****(like leaves and limb-fall) or do you want a yard decoration?

If you want to burn **** (and are able to by local ordinance), then use concrete pavers to make a circle at ground level, leave the native dirt and you are done.

If you want a decorative feature, then you do not want a fire-pit, you want a fire-feature. Gas is good, if not gas, then you can do it "right" or you can do it the way most people do it. "Right" is expensive, half ass is cheap and, well, half-ass. The OP did half ass. Right is firebrick lined, adequate drainage, and an understanding of the heat differential between the inner liner and the exterior cladding.

You can see my fire pit in this pic, I burn all my leaves, limb falls, documents, and what ever else is not toxic in it (and use it as a fire feature for parties).
Attached Thumbnails
Outdoor firepit problems-050308newbed2.jpg  

Advertisement


Last edited by Tscarborough; 10-25-2017 at 11:01 PM.
Tscarborough is offline  
The Following User Says Thank You to Tscarborough For This Useful Post:
Fouthgeneration (10-26-2017)


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Ridgid Tristack compressor problems? Jdub2083 Tools & Equipment 9 10-10-2012 11:10 PM
more gator dust problems cynsharon Masonry 2 08-16-2012 04:26 PM
Neighborhood electrical problems... Robie Electrical 4 07-29-2012 11:04 AM
Unforeseen problems Kevin75 Business 16 01-28-2009 04:07 PM

Join Now... It's Fast and FREE!

I am a professional contractor
I am a DIY Homeowner
Drywall Talk is for
PROFESSIONAL CONTRACTORS ONLY!

At DrywallTalk.com we cater exlusivly to professional contractors who make their living as a contractor. Knowing that many homeowners and DIYers are looking for a community to call home, we've created www.DIYChatroom.com DIY Chatroom is full of helpful advices and perfect for DIY homeowners.

Redirecing in 10 seconds
No Thanks
terms of service

Already Have an Account?