Why Do Fire Extinguishers Expire?

March 2, 2022 6:29 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Fire extinguishers are a crucial home safety item that can make the difference between a devastating home fire and a fire that you have the ability to stop. That being said, these extinguishers do have expiration dates for a reason. So, what do you do with an expired fire extinguisher? Are there fire extinguisher recharging options? Keep reading to find out.

Why Do Fire Extinguishers Expire?

Fire extinguishers that are designed to be disposable are those that cannot be recharged. These extinguishers are filled with a gas that has been super pressurized, normally nitrogen or carbon dioxide, and the fire retardant that is meant to smother out the fire. This gas is pressurized within the canister. Since it is a disposable fire extinguisher, you cannot recharge it when the propellant is no longer good, and it must be replaced.

Over time, the gasses inside a fire extinguisher, disposable or not, can end up losing their pressure and losing the ability to expel or propel the fire retardant from the canister to the fire. When these extinguishers go bad, they need to be thrown out and replaced. This is typically every 12 years or so.

Rechargeable Fire Extinguishers

For those extinguishers that are in large public buildings, on emergency vehicles, or even in some homes, fire extinguisher recharging is an option. These fire extinguishers are built on the same principle as a smaller disposable extinguisher, except that they are made to be refilled. These are a bit tougher and more durable than other extinguishers and will last longer as well.

With a rechargeable extinguisher, it needs to be recharged after every use to ensure that it will have the power and the ability to work again if needed. The recharging process starts by totally depressurizing the canister the re-pressurizing it. Recharging a fire extinguisher is done by a professional who knows what they are doing and how to do it safely.

Rechargeable fire extinguishers need to be recharged fully every six years if they are not used since they are built differently than a disposable extinguisher. You can find the expiration dates of a disposable extinguisher on the side of the canister. For a rechargeable extinguisher, the date of recharge should be written on the side of the can when it is recharged.

No matter what you are doing with your fire extinguisher, it is always important to pay attention to the expiration date to ensure that it is going to work when you need it.

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