How Long Should a Portable Fire Extinguisher Last?

If you run a business in Maryland, Virginia, or Washington, DC, you hopefully already know how important it is to have properly maintained fire extinguishers. And if you’ve never had to use them, it’s very possible that you’ve had the same extinguishers for years. So the important question is—how long will those portable fire extinguishers last?

Depending on how well you’ve kept up with fire extinguisher maintenance, your portable fire extinguisher should last, essentially, forever. If you’ve had the same fire extinguisher for a long time (10-12 years),one way to test its condition ) is to have it hydrostatically tested. A hydrostatic test exposes your fire extinguisher to high pressure (usually 500psi) to check the integrity of the shell. If the shell holds up well, it is a sign that your fire extinguisher is still good and will last for a few more years before it needs to be replaced.

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What can go wrong with a fire extinguisher?

There are a few common problems that many fire extinguishers face that can cause them to be serviced or replaced:

  • The seal around the fire extinguisher neck can weaken or break down over time, allowing the compressed air to escape. This lowers the pressure in the fire extinguisher and can prevent it from dispensing the fire extinguishant properly.
  • If you have a dry chemical fire extinguisher, the chemical powder can settle on the bottom of the extinguisher and get packed down. If this happens, a professional fire protection services company can empty and recharge your fire extinguisher so you won’t have to replace it.

If you are concerned about the integrity of your fire extinguisher, there are a few signs of fire extinguisher malfunction that you can check for on your own. If you notice any of these things on your own fire extinguisher, have it serviced or replaced as soon as possible:

  • The fire extinguisher hose or nozzle is cracked, ripped or clogged
  • The safety pin is missing or unsealed
  • The handle is broken or wobbly
  • The most recent inspection tag is missing

How do you dispose of a fire extinguisher?

Because they are filled with chemicals and kept under pressure, fire extinguishers can’t simply be thrown in the trash – you need to take certain steps to make sure it is disposed of properly.

If the fire extinguisher is not empty:

  • Call the fire department and see if they can take your extinguisher and recharge or replace it.
  • If the fire department doesn’t take it, take your fire extinguisher to your nearest hazardous waste disposal facility.

If the fire extinguisher is empty:

  • Squeeze the lever to make sure that all of the extinguishant has been released.
  • Remove the fire extinguisher head so that whoever disposes of the extinguisher knows that all of the contents have been removed.
  • Take the steel fire extinguisher body to your local recycling facility.

With proper care and maintenance, your fire extinguisher will provide years of reliable fire protection. If you need fire extinguisher inspection or maintenance, call Guardian Fire Protection today!