A fire extinguisher is a vital tool in any home or business to help prevent the spread of fire. This simple tool has saved potentially thousands of lives. In order for a fire extinguisher to work properly when needed, it's important to keep it maintained and up-to-date with service, especially with rechargeable extinguishers. But how do you know if your current extinguisher needs attention?
Here are five common questions about fire extinguisher servicing to help you figure it out.
1. How often should my fire extinguisher be serviced?
If you have a rechargeable fire extinguisher, it should be professionally serviced every 6 years. You will know if the unit is rechargeable because it will come with a gauge that will alert you to whether the unit is full or undercharged. There is often a green zone labeled "full" or "charged." Keep an eye on this gauge once a month between service years just to ensure that everything is operating optimally. Additionally, you should always have it recharged after use even if you didn't completely empty it to ensure that it is ready for the next emergency.
2. Who should I take it to for servicing?
You should always take your extinguisher to someone who is a certified fire extinguisher servicer in accordance with the National Fire Protection Association or NFPA guidelines. Other certifications to look for are those offered by the National Association of Fire Equipment Distributors or NAFED or your local authority having jurisdiction or AHJ, the person that enforces regulations in your area. That person may be the fire marshal. Folks with these certifications may be found at local stores that specialize in fire safety equipment.
3. Is my extinguisher too old to recharge?
Older fire extinguishers may last for many years but there is a point when it's a good idea to discard an old unit and consider purchasing something new. A common rule of thumb is that disposable non-rechargeable fire extinguishers should be replaced every 10 years while rechargeable units typically have a 10-12 year life expectancy.
4. How do I know how old it is?
Look for a manufacture date. This is typically located on the nameplate on the extinguisher.
5. What are some signs that my fire extinguisher is bad?
There are common problems to watch out for before the expiration date such as broken or missing pins, nozzles with holes or tears, a missing safety seal, broken handles, or residue on the outside of the unit.