How to Know When It’s Time to Buy a New Fire Extinguisher

Fire extinguishers are one of those things that you usually don’t think about until you need them. And when you need it, chances are it really is an emergency. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you try to take control of a fire, take out a fire extinguisher, try to use it, and then find that it is no longer in working order.

As it turns out, owning a fire extinguisher is probably more complicated than you thought. Not that it looks like a pet or anything like that, but it takes more than just buying it, hiding it under the sink and then forgetting about it for years to come. Here’s what you need to know about the life of a fire extinguisher and when to buy a new one.

How long do fire extinguishers last?

Fire extinguishers do have a shelf life even if we don’t think of them as perishable items. The tricky part is how to find out how old your fire extinguisher really is. As a rule, they will last from five to 15 years , but it is difficult to tell where they are now in their life cycle.

Even if you remember when you bought it, you still (probably) don’t know how long it sat on the shelf in the store before you brought it home. Here are a few more ways to help you determine whether to invest in a new one or get one that has already served your current one:

Check pressure gauge

Apparently this is what you should be doing on a monthly basis. Fortunately, this is simple: just check the gauge and if the needle is in the green area, then everything is fine. If it has landed somewhere else, it’s time to get it repaired or simply replaced.

Some older models of fire extinguishers do not have a pressure gauge. This is probably in itself a good sign that it is probably time to replace it. Otherwise, you can take it to a specialized fire extinguisher service center for it to have it checked (and possibly repaired). To find one, google “fire fighting services” and see what’s in your area.

Other things to check

If any of the following apply to your current fire extinguisher, then it’s time to get a professional to evaluate and / or repair, following Real Simple and Hunker’s advice:

  • The handle is loose or damaged
  • Nozzle cracked, torn, broken, or clogged with debris.
  • The pressure is too low
  • Locking pin missing or open
  • The device has been used
  • There is no control sticker or tag with a record of inspections and maintenance.

While it can be cheaper to maintain an old fire extinguisher than buying a new one, be sure to factor in other costs such as the time it takes you to get to and from a fire extinguisher service shop, travel costs, etc.

If you do receive a new one, be sure to make a note (perhaps a few notes) with the date when you purchased it so that next time you do not have to guess, and then.


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