When Does a Fire Extinguisher Expire?

Most people who own portable fire extinguishers already know the importance of regular fire extinguisher inspections and testing. But even if you stay current with all of the required inspections and maintenance, how long will it take before your fire extinguisher expires?

Well, the good news is that with proper care and maintenance, your portable fire extinguisher should last a very long time. If you’ve had the same fire extinguisher for a long time (10 – 12 years) it is recommended that you 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.

What can go wrong with a fire extinguisher?

There are a few things that can go wrong with your fire extinguisher that would cause it to need to be serviced or replaced:

  • The seal around the neck can weaken or break down over time, allowing the compressed air to escape. This will lower the pressure in the fire extinguisher and cause it to not work properly.
  • The chemical powder in your fire extinguisher can settle on the bottom of your 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 telltale 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 right away:

  • The hose or nozzle is cracked, ripped or clogged
  • The pin is missing or unsealed
  • The handle is broken or wobbly
  • The inspection tag is missing

How do I dispose of my fire extinguisher?

Because they are full of pressurized chemicals, fire extinguishers can’t simply be thrown in the trash – you need to take certain steps to make sure it is safe.

If the fire extinguisher is not empty:

  • Call the fire department and see if you can drop your fire extinguisher off at the firehouse.
  • 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 pressure has been released.
  • Remove the fire extinguisher head so that whoever disposes of the extinguisher knows that all of the contents have been removed.
  • Once the fire extinguisher is completely empty and the head has been removed, most recycling facilities should accept the steel body.

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