Building an open-pit fireplace indoors is similar to building one outdoors. It is like having a campfire indoors. Choosing a design and location will be the first concern. Containing the fire within the pit is paramount. Keeping the smoke from entering the rest of the house is also a primary concern. Determining the type of fuel you plan to use to build the fires will be a major factor in determining the design of the fireplace. Planning for storage of fuel and removal of ashes are also necessary.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Measuring tape
- Foundation materials
- Hearth materials
- Chimney materials
Use the measuring tape to determine the location and shape of the fire pit. Will it be accessed from all sides; will it be round, square or rectangular in shape? If located in a corner or against a wall it will need to have fireproof materials for the surrounding areas. The type of materials used will determine the type of foundation needed. Masonry work will require an in-ground concrete-reinforced foundation whereas most metal prefabricated units are lightweight and easier to install. Careful thought needs to be given to the chimney location and function. It will need to exit through the roof and have sufficient space around it to be installed safely.
If building from scratch, a detailed set of plans should be purchased and followed. Choose a step-by-step set of instructions from a reputable builder with a good track record. Prefabricated chimneys and flues will need to be installed per manufacturer’s instructions. Local building codes must be followed and proper inspections from county building inspectors will be needed.
When considering the fuel that will be used to build the fires, allow a place to store and access the supply. For example a place to store and stack the wood or coal nearby that is easy to access and keep clean will make using the fire pit much more enjoyable. The interior of the house can get very messy from the debris and insects that fall off the wood as it is brought into the house. Think of the route from the wood pile outside to the storage place inside the house. Make it a direct route that will not interfere with the rest of the living space. A through-wall storage unit is very practical if it can be accomplished. If the fire pit will have a gas starter or gas logs, access for the gas will need to be designed into the overall plan. Ash removal also needs to be considered.
The chimney with all its parts will need to be of proper size and location. The bonnet above the fire pit needs to be large enough to capture the smoke and direct it into the flue properly. A flue with a quality damper and properly sized bonnet are needed. The area around the chimney and flue needs to be waterproof and fireproof. Extra spacing needs to be allowed for expansion and contraction as the flue heats up and cools down during use. Any wood or combustible material installed too close to the flue will be a fire hazard and will not pass inspection.
Tips and warnings
- Consider the seating around the fire when designing the location of the pit.
- Consider accessories like grates, pokers, ash shovels, screens and log turners as part of the design.
- Always take safety precautions and wear proper safety equipment while operating machinery or using hand tools.
- Never forget that an improperly installed fire place can burn down your house and possible kill everyone inside.
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