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Backyard fire pit

Backyard Fire Pit

It appears the current big thing in outdoor residential, backyard, additions is the fire pit. Since the discovery of fire, humans have enjoyed gathering around a fire. Whether it be for necessity, for warmth and cooking, or to look into the flickering flames for reflecting on their lives with friends, fire seems to have a hypnotic effect on us. I found it hard to believe, in watching the new Leonardo De Caprio movie, The Revanent, that in that scene when the Indian and Leonardo come upon the bison carcass, they ate the meat raw instead putting the meat on a stick and cooking it in the raging fire a few feet away. True, they were starving but a few more minutes would have been worth it to me. But I digress.

People call me about having a new gas line run to a backyard fire pit all the time. A new line must be run from the meter because the 1/2 inch stub out usually installed for a barbecue is not big enough for a fire pit. I have seen people do this and they were disappointed when it wouldn’t work. Of course, the work was done without inspections because the inspector would have insisted on a BTU load analysis and it would have shown that it wouldn’t work.

People are not prepared for what is involved in running an underground gas line. The ditch must be 20 inches deep, then 2 inches of sand put in, the pipe will then be 18 inches deep. A plastic marking tape must be laid on top of the pipe, stating GAS LINE. The pipe must be air tested to 15 psi, looked at and signed off by the inspector. Then the hookup to the meter can be done. If the pipe is going to be under concrete it must be sleeved and a vent fitting installed above ground, turned down so rain water cannot get in.

The digging involved is usually brutal because the soil in the Las Vegas valley is very hard packed. We use jackhammers with shovel attachments to do this and we can agree that during the summer months this is indeed brutal work. All this can easily add up to a price of $2,000 to $3000 which the customer is shocked to hear. Oh, I forgot to mention that you must call Call Before You Dig because if you don’t and you hit the gas line they will charge you $6,000 to make the emergency repair. Not to mention the fire trucks and other emergency vehicles which will fill the neighborhood when this happens. Also, breathing natural gas fumes even for a few minutes will make you sick and give you a headache like you have never had. I have seen all this take place through no fault of my own and the contractor involved was very sorry he took the job.

People seem to think that this is a $1000, maximum, until the plumbing contractor comes out. When we give them the estimate they are sure we are gouging them, no way a single pipe run to a fire pit should cost this much. I have started to give people estimates on installing the pipe only. They take care of the digging and permits as a homeowner is allowed to do. If they won’t do it that way I will walk away from the job.

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