So as long as it’s maintained regularly, a fire extinguisher can last as long as 10-12 years. NFPA standards say that you should consider replacing extinguishers every 12 years.
After that time period, you’re playing with fire, quite literally. Why’s that? Because extinguishers tend to lose pressure over that period of time. External factors like damage, rust and corrosion can compromise the integrity of the shell, impacting the extinguisher’s ability to function properly over time.
The big question is – if you haven’t updated or upgraded your fire extinguisher in that period of time – is it possible to use them still if you’re faced with an emergency? That’s what we’re here to discuss today. Let’s jump right in.
Signs as to why you might want to replace your extinguisher
At least once or twice a year, it’s a good idea to check your extinguisher to see if there’s anything visually or mechanically you should be worried about. The things you’re going to want to look for include:
- Broken seals
- Signs of weakening and damage
- Visible rust, damage or corrosion
- Weak/shaky or broken handles
- Missing pins
- Damage to the hose
- Lack of inspection tags
If you haven’t had your entire home inspected for fire safety in some time, then you’ll most definitely want to have a professional come in and perform a simple once-over. Not only will they look at your house’s safety as a whole; they’ll also take a look at your fire extinguishers to see if they need to be replaced.
If you have any of these defects and your extinguisher is old – we recommend getting it repaired or replaced immediately as there’s a significant chance that it won’t perform as intended should the need arise.
How to get rid of your old extinguishers
If your fire extinguisher has chemicals inside of it and you see damage, simply call your local fire department and see if they’ll accept old or damaged/expired extinguishers. If they can’t, take it to a hazardous waste disposal facility.
In the event the extinguisher is empty, give the handle a small squeeze to ensure that there’s no more pressure remaining in the tank. Remove the extinguisher’s head after that to make sure the container itself is empty. If it is, most recycling facilities will happily accept the steel shell.
So what’s the verdict?
If your extinguisher is expired or old, it’s time to get a replacement. The risk of personal harm to you or others is simply too high to take the chance. Sure, some may, in fact work; but it’s not worth hoping for the best in the event you need to use it. The cost isn’t significant and the degree of safety on its own should be enough to make the right decision.
If your fire extinguishers are damaged or expired, give us a call today and we’ll be happy to provide you with a whole host of options for replacements, training, inspection and the like. Until then, stay safe and good luck!