Do Fire Extinguishers Expire? Here’s When To Replace Them
Most residential and commercial properties have fire extinguishers as their first line of defense against fire emergencies. Sadly — just like a plethora of other products and commodities — they don’t last forever. They can only last anywhere from five years to more than two decades.
So, how do you know when it’s time to replace them?
Not all extinguishers have an “expiration date” tag. However, what can you use as a basis is a paper tag that shows a fire extinguisher’s record of maintenance? If that tag is dated over 10 years ago, then it’s a clear prompt that you should have it replaced already.
Disposable vs. Rechargeable Fire Extinguishers
A disposable fire extinguisher is one that needs to be replaced once all of the fire-extinguishing substance it contains has been used up. To check, it has a plastic head and a gauge that reads “Full/Empty.” If the gauge needle is already pointing towards the “Empty” sign, then you must replace it as soon as possible.
On the other hand, a rechargeable fire extinguisher is one that can be recharged to be functional again. Unlike its disposable counterpart, it has a metalhead and a gauge that reads “Charge/Recharge.” Once the needle points at the “Recharge” label, call a professional immediately to have it recharged.
Warning Signs You Should Be Aware Of
Apart from the gauge that indicates the status of your fire extinguisher, there are other warning signs that you should be aware of:
Its hose or nozzle is cracked, damaged, or blocked with debris
It has a missing or tampered/ unsealed locking pin
It has a broken or wobbly handle
It has no inspection tag or sticker. If it has one, it’s dated over 10 years ago, as previously mentioned
It was made by a company that is no longer in business (and is, therefore, not capable of giving proper maintenance services)
Why Regular Maintenance Matters
For fire extinguishers to maximise their lifespan, proper maintenance is key. Experts recommend to have all fire extinguisher gauges checked monthly; this is to ensure that they still have a charge (if the extinguisher is rechargeable) or if they are still full (if it’s disposable).
The extinguishers — as a whole — are recommended to be professionally inspected at least once a year. On top of this one, a so-called hydrostatic test should be done every six years. This involves emptying the extinguisher and re-filling it with pressurized water (if it’s disposable), identifying leaks and/ or corrosion issues, and resolving any damages found accordingly.
It’s also safest to store your fire extinguisher in a clean, indoor area to help prolong its life. When exposed to dirty locations or in areas where it can be overexposed to UV rays, wind, or rain, the extinguisher won’t be able to deliver its functions effectively.
Disposing Fire Extinguishers
Granted that you have optimally used a fire extinguisher — the next question is, how should it be properly disposed of. One option is to call your local fire department. Another is to look for a local site that collects hazardous wastes.
Make sure to never throw any extinguisher into a recycling or trash bin. The chemicals it contains pose a great risk either of either contaminating its surroundings, exploding, or both.
At WFX, our business is to protect yours. If you need fire extinguishers and other quality products, contact us today!