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Have You Had Your Fire Extinguisher Hydro Test?

Posted on: February 14, 2011

If you own a building in New Jersey, Delaware or Philadelphia, it’s almost guaranteed that you own at least one fire extinguisher. But what sort of maintenance do you do on it? Almost everyone knows that fire extinguishers need annual inspections and basic maintenance, but after about 12 years, fire extinguishers need a special kind of test – a fire extinguisher hydro test.

Fire Extinguisher Hydro Testing

If you’ve owned your fire extinguisher for 12 years, a fire extinguisher hydro test (short for hydrostatic test) is critical if you want to make sure the equipment will still be able to protect you. During a fire extinguisher hydro test, the fire extinguisher cylinder is emptied and filled up with colored water and pressurized. To be safe, the water pressure is usually considerably higher than normal fire extinguisher pressure. After this, the fire extinguisher cylinder is examined for leaks or permanent changes in shape. If no leaks or shape changes are detected, congratulations! Your fire extinguisher will last for several more years (provided you continue to get the required inspections).

What’s So Important About Fire Extinguisher Hydro Testing?

As with anything, as fire extinguishers get older they become more prone to damage and malfunction. The problem with fire extinguishers is that unlike most things, as they get older they also become more likely to explode. This is because the dry chemical contained within the fire extinguisher is kept at a very high pressure, and the high pressure makes any cracks and damages, even minor ones, very dangerous.

In addition to the potential for explosion, cracked fire extinguishers carry the additional risk of not working properly when you need them. In many ways, this can be almost worse than an explosion! When your fire extinguisher explodes (assuming no one is hurt) you know immediately that it needs to be replaced. However, if the leaking pressure happens quietly and no one checks the pressure gauge, you may end up trying to use it during a fire only to find that it doesn’t work. Trust us – during a fire is NOT when you want to find out that your extinguisher doesn’t work!

A fire extinguisher hydrostatic test is designed to find any flaws in your fire extinguisher so that you can either repair the damages or replace the whole extinguisher.

Fun Facts About Fire Extinguisher Hydro Testing

Bet you’ve never heard that sentence before! Contrary to popular belief, there are some interesting facts about fire extinguisher hydro testing. For instance:

  • To make leaks in your fire extinguisher easier to spot, colored dyes, usually red or fluorescent, are added to the water during the hydro test.
  • The reason pressurized water is used instead of pressurized air is that water is almost completely incompressible. When air is pressurized, is becomes extremely compressed. Then, if there is too much damage to the extinguisher and it explodes, pieces of fire extinguisher can go flying around the room at high speeds. Water, on the other hand, compresses very little. This means that if the fire extinguisher fails the hydrotest and breaks, it will not burst and potentially harm the attendant.

If you own an aging fire extinguisher, a fire extinguisher hydro test is essential for making sure your fire extinguisher will be able to protect you when you need it most. If you want to schedule a fire extinguisher hydro test in New Jersey, Delaware or Philadelphia, call Confires today!

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