Fire pits, whether portable or permanent, are a popular addition to outdoor spaces, offering both warmth and ambiance. However, an often overlooked aspect is the impact of water on fire pits. It’s crucial to understand that water accumulation in your fire pit can lead to rusting, potentially rendering it unusable until it dries out. Hence, proper drainage is vital.

Understanding Different Types of Fire Pits

  • Portable Fire Pits: These are designed to avoid water collection and can be moved with ease to dodge water buildup. Some models come with an open bottom or a steel grate, preventing water from accumulating at the base. However, these fire pits have a minor drawback: water can gather in the ash basket, complicating ash disposal.
  • Permanent Fire Pits: For these types of fire pits, drainage requires careful planning. Since they cannot be lifted to drain water, ensuring water doesn’t accumulate is key for their longevity.

Strategies for Effective Drainage

  • Drainage Holes: If your fire pit has a solid metal base, drainage holes are necessary. These can be drilled at the base if not already present.
  • Planning Water Drainage: Once water can escape from the fire pit, you need to plan where it will drain to. This is especially crucial if your fire pit is located on a concrete or flagstone patio, where water can pool. Solutions include installing a drain pipe or creating a gravel channel to guide the water away from the fire pit. The drain pipe can be concealed with materials such as lava rocks, fire pit glass, or gravel.
  • Creating a Drainage Layer: Another effective solution is to create a drainage layer underneath your fire pit. Materials like lava rocks, fire pit glass, or gravel can be used for this purpose. The layer should be approximately 12 inches deep, enabling the water to slowly drain away without causing flooding.

The Value of Covering Your Fire Pit

Preventing water from entering your fire pit is another effective strategy. Various types of covers are available:

  • Snuffer Lids: These not only protect the fire pit from water but also extinguish the fire by cutting off the oxygen supply.
  • Canvas Covers: Available in a variety of colors and sizes, these can also serve as an aesthetic addition to your outdoor space.
  • Tarps: For those on a budget, a tarp can serve as a cover. However, it’s crucial to ensure the fire pit is cool before covering it with a tarp, as residual heat can melt it.


To sum up, investing a little time in setting up proper drainage and investing in a good cover can significantly extend the lifespan of your fire pit and keep it in good working condition. If your fire pit begins to show signs of rusting due to exposure to the elements, it can be treated with a rust-dissolving product to reverse the damage.