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There are many homes that have a chiminea located under the porch or patio. This is usually due to space availability, funds, and a cozy atmosphere. As beautiful as they are, there are some concerns with this idea.
The whole idea of outdoor fireplaces is exciting to a lot of people, but not everyone wants a large structure in their backyard.
Enter the chiminea, which is a smaller version that can be built into your patio or under your porch. Here you’ll find everything you need to know about owning and operating one safely.
What Is A Chiminea?
A chiminea is essentially an elevated metal casing around an open-front fireplace (similar to a barbecue pit) for burning wood, coal, or charcoal outdoors.
It works on the same principles as its larger counterpart: Metal walls reflect and circulate heat from the fire while simultaneously protecting people and property from its harmful effects; smoke and hot gases are exhausted through openings at either end of the front wall of the chiminea.
Top 5 Chimineas
Can You Put a Chiminea Under a Covered Patio?
The short answer is, yes, you can put a chiminea under a covered patio or porch. We recommend using extreme caution when doing so — the concrete floor surface of your patio may crack or even explode from the heat generated by this device
The long answer is that there are some things to think about before doing that — especially if the only thing covering the patio is an overhead lattice roof.
Here are some tips for putting a chiminea under an uncovered patio or porch or right up against an open screen enclosure.
Here are two key points to consider when deciding whether or not this will work in your circumstances:
1) will it warm the area well enough?
2) will sparks and embers fall on people or combustibles?
Chimineas can produce intense heat! That makes them great for colder areas, but if they’re too close to where people gather, they can be a fire hazard.
Here are some helpful tips:
1. Your chiminea should have a clearance of at least 3 feet (1 meter) away from combustibles and be well clear of where anyone will walk or sit.
This is very important if your only overhead protection is an open screen enclosure like a porch! A good rule of thumb (not that there IS such a thing as a “rule of thumb” with these kinds of guidelines, but still…)
Keep it far enough back so you could place another chair between the chiminea and the combustibles… just for extra insurance.
And if you have kids or pets running around… yes, even they should stay clear too!
2. If you put it close to something flammable, place something non-flammable between them. Like brick or large rock.
The idea is to provide a solid barrier that will stop hot sparks from landing on the other thing and igniting it.
3. Make sure there’s enough overhead clearance for your chiminea — at least 4 feet (1.2 meters) of headroom where you want the chiminea to sit… plus a foot (30cm) more all around!
When you build a fire in it, smoke and flames come out of the top, so make sure there’s room for both above AND below its location — otherwise, smoke & heat will be trapped under/around it and not vent properly where you need it to!
4. Be sure to position it away from any wind that might come up unexpectedly.
5. If possible, add a fire screen (a wire mesh or heavy metal one should work fine) to block sparks and embers that might be carried over by wind gusts.
And even with the screen in place, keep an eye on how things are doing… and make sure everyone stays clear of the area around it! It’s always better to be safe than sorry!
How Do I Protect My Patio, Deck, Porch From a Chiminea?
To protect outdoor furniture and wooden decks from embers, build a fireguard around your chiminea.
This is an angled metal fence that surrounds the structure on three sides. Its height should be 5 inches higher than the hearth of the chiminea at its highest point (usually this would be the middle).
The fourth side (the back) will have to be open so you can tend to the fire. You can buy premade metal fireplace guards or make one yourself out of heavy-duty mesh screening or sheet metal.
Screens are usually recommended because they fully protect against sparks, which may burn tiny holes in fabric, tablecloths, even decking material.
If you do use a screen, make sure it is very sturdy and fits snugly all around the fireguard to prevent embers from landing on or rolling off of it.
You may want to run a strip of sheet metal along the top inside edge of the guard (underneath the overhang) to catch any embers that land there.
Also, allow for airflow around your chiminea by leaving at least four inches between the fireguard and an adjacent wall or structure.
Remember that the chiminea will still release great heat even when not in active use, so beware of leaving flammable items too close when unattended even when not burning!
How Chimineas Work
The key to a chiminea’s performance is its ability to draw in fresh air from below and send it through the fire, then up and out through a vent at the top of the unit.
The simplest way to do this is to place your chiminea on a base of flat stones or bricks with small gaps between them.
Set two roughly equal-sized pieces of firewood end-to-end across the burner pan, as close as you can get them to bear directly on one another without falling off.
Now sit back and watch as air is drawn into the open front of your firebox, pushed down by cooler incoming air coming up from below.
It passes through the fire, heating it and producing smoke that is burned to heat and light by the rising air (and noxious gases) exiting out the top vent.
How To Use The Chiminea Properly
Always refer to your owner’s manual for clear instructions on how to safely operate your chiminea.
For safety, place your chiminea well away from any structure or overhanging branches which could catch fire in the event of a chimney fire.
Ensure there is adequate clearance all around so children cannot run into it unawares; if possible, create an open-air barrier around its base at least three feet high, possibly with stones or bricks set into the ground.
This helps prevent overly intense flames from rapidly jumping out of the chiminea and catching your surrounding area on fire.
This is especially important if you’re planning to light a grass or wood chip fire inside it, as these are extremely combustible fuel sources that can quickly spread the flame.
Be sure to never operate your outdoor fireplace under low-hanging tree limbs or other overhangs.
Never use accelerants such as gasoline, kerosene, alcohol, paint thinner, etc., in your chiminea because they could be ignited by nearby flames and cause an explosion or even start a fire at ground level.
You also may not want to use any type of lighter fluid in your chiminea due to environmental concerns – plus their petroleum-based components can contaminate food cooked over them if they land on your food.
We all know that chimineas are a fantastic way to keep your outdoor space warm and cozy. But what about when you’re not using it?
Do the same safety precautions apply if they’ve been stored under your porch or patio?
The answer is yes, but there are some important considerations for how best to store them while keeping everyone safe from potential fires.