Fire Pit Repair

May, 2016

It’s finally fire pit season again and I pulled the tarp off my fire pit to discover a large, ugly rust hole had formed.  I priced the replacement of the pan and found it to be almost as much as a new fire pit!  I found this excellent tutorial online about a DIY repair and thought I would try it out.  Total time to complete this project (including shopping for parts) was about 5 hours.  Total out of pocket expenses was about $30 USD.  Definitely worth it!

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I started by building a paper template of the insert design.  I considered taking a fancy approach and attempting to join the sides together, but in the end, I’m very glad I took a simpler approach and just made a single cut and overlapped the sides.  This gave me the ability to use fewer bolts to secure the pan, and less joint gaps for ash to buildup.

Next, a quick trip to my favorite local hardware store where I bought:

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Using a jig saw with a metal-cutting blade, I made quick work of trimming the aluminum sheet to size.  I made 4 cuts and fit it inside the existing pan.  I trimmed the edges using some tin snips.  I found marking with a grease pencil helped to mark cuts and line up edges.

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I rounded the corners and tried not to have any edges sticking up since they were sharp.  Note:  Sheet metal can be nasty stuff to work with, so I always wear heavy gloves.  I forgot one time and found myself bleeding with a minor graze of the material.

I drilled 8 holes through 2 layers of the aluminum and the underlying pan.  I fastened the bolts with the washers, lock washers and nuts.  I used a ratchet to tighten securely.

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Next, I took it out into the grass and sprayed it with the Rust-Oleum.  I gave it 2 coats, since it comes in a big can, which dried quickly.  I also sprayed the mesh grill cover since it was looking a bit weathered too.  There was high humidity on the day of the project which resulted in some splotches as the propellant hitting the metal attracted water from the air.  However, I wasn’t too worried about making it look good since it would soon be covered in ash.

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In the end, it looks good and I hope it will extend the life of my fire pit for at least another year or two.  I know heat will make the aluminum expand, so I’m interested to see how this holds up after the next fire.  A special thanks to infarrantlycreative.com for their excellent tutorial that gave me the confidence to do this on my own.

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