How Long Do Fire Extinguishers Last? Guide To All Types

Researched & Written by Craig

Not sure if your fire extinguisher is still valid? This article will provide information on how long you should keep a fire extinguisher before recharging or replacing it.

How long a fire extinguisher lasts depends on the type of extinguisher you have:

You may be wondering, do fire extinguishers have a use-by date? Or, how can you tell if a fire extinguisher is old?

To find out the answers to these questions, take a look at the extended guide below.

Fire Extinguisher Kitchen

How Long Does a Fire Extinguisher Last? 

Having a fire extinguisher in your home gives you an added feeling of protection.

But there’s only one problem – you can’t remember when you bought it. You must know the age of your fire extinguisher. After a fire extinguisher has passed its use-by date it will no longer be effective at putting out flames. 

To see if your fire extinguisher is still in date, you must first check if it is rechargeable or disposable. To find out the difference between the two, take a look at the information below: 

Rechargeable Fire Extinguishers

Disposable Fire Extinguishers

  • A rechargeable fire extinguisher can be used until the needle hits red. Once the needle enters the red zone it will have to be recharged
  • Rechargeable extinguishers have a metal valve. These can be refilled by a certified professional. 
  • You can buy a brand new rechargeable fire extinguisher from about $50.
  • Recharging a fire extinguisher is inexpensive. It typically costs around $15 to refill one. Some companies will come to you to refill your extinguisher. This is a more expensive service but usually costs no more than $30. 
  • Disposable fire extinguishers can be used until the needle hits red. Once the needle enters the red zone they have to be replaced. They cannot be refilled. 
  • Disposable extinguishers can only be used once. This is because they have a plastic valve and cannot be refilled.
  • You can buy a brand new disposable fire extinguisher from about $30

You now know whether you have a rechargeable or disposable fire extinguisher. But what difference will that make on how long your extinguisher will last?

Rechargeable fire extinguishers should be recharged every 6 years.

Disposable fire extinguishers should be replaced every 12 years. 

Disposable vs Rechargeable Fire Extinguishers

Disposable fire extinguishers are cheaper to buy but work out more expensive in the long run. Why is that? Because the cost of refilling a rechargeable extinguisher is usually around $15. And once it’s recharged, the extinguisher will last you over a decade.  But, if you have to shell out on a new extinguisher that costs you $30 or more every 6 years it will eventually add up.

How Do You Know if a Fire Extinguisher Is Still Good?

Having a fire extinguisher on your property is really important. But if your fire extinguisher is not up to standard, it will not put out a fire. 

Fire extinguishers don’t technically have a use-by date. The date they should be replaced by is dependent on the quality of the manufacture. It is also dependent on whether it has been refurbished and the environment it’s kept in. 

So with all that said, how can you check if your fire extinguisher is still good?

Take a look at the following tips:

  • Check the maintenance tag. If you have a refillable extinguisher, this tag will show the date that it needs to be refilled. If you have a disposable extinguisher, this tag will show the date it needs to be replaced. If your extinguisher has passed its maintenance date, it will be ineffective against a fire.
  • Check the pressure. You can read the pressure on both disposable and refillable extinguishers. If your extinguisher does not show a good pressure level, it will be ineffective against a fire.
  • Check for prior usage. If you suspect that the extinguisher has been used then it should be seen to by a professional. If the extinguisher is used, even in the slightest it could lose its gas. This would make it ineffective against a fire.
  • Check the extinguisher’s body. The body of the extinguisher should be free from damage. If it is damaged, it will not work properly. You can examine for damage in the following areas:
  •  Any sign of tampering or wear and tear to the valve or hose. (This could manifest itself as a cracked or split hose.)
    • Any leakages.
    • Any sign of rust around the hose or anywhere on the body of the extinguisher. 
    • The handle should be firm, not shaky nor flimsy. 
    • The seal on the neck and safety pin should be intact.

What Happens When a Fire Extinguisher Expires?

So, we have already discussed the need to periodically recharge or replace your fire extinguisher. And it has become quite clear that if you fail to do so, your extinguisher will not be useful in case of a fire. But, what exactly does that mean? What will happen if you try to use an expired fire extinguisher? The following sections will answer these questions:

Depressurized Fire Extinguishers

The materials inside a fire extinguisher don’t expire over time. But what does happen is that the cylinder itself can start to lose pressure as the extinguisher gets old. This would cause the extinguisher to become depressurized. The lack of pressure will render it powerless when you come to squeeze the handle. 

You should replace or refill your extinguisher periodically. This will ensure that the pressure in the cylinder will be powerful enough to put out flames. 

Old Fire Extinguishers

If your fire extinguisher is close to expiring, you will be able to tell by looking out for signs of wear and tear. 

Not sure what to look for? Then take a look at the following signs of wear and tear below: 

  • Pressure gauge. Examining the needle on the pressure gauge is the easiest way to see if your extinguisher has expired. Has your gauge come out of the green zone? If it’s in the white or red zone it will need replacing or refilling. 
  • Broken seal around the neck. The pressure of the ingredients inside the cylinder will be compromised if the seal is broken. Without the right pressure, the extinguisher will not be able to release the ingredients out of the hose when the handle is pressed. This would render the fire extinguisher useless. 
  • Damage to the hose. Hairline cracks or splits can begin to appear in a fire extinguisher that is close to expiring. Do you have a refillable extinguisher? If so, then damage to the hose can often be fixed with replacement parts.
  • Corrosion and rust. Any signs of corrosion or rust on the body of the extinguisher could indicate that your unit is close to expiring. 

If your fire extinguisher displays any of these signs, do not attempt to repair it yourself. It should be taken to your local fire protection professionals. If the extinguisher is beyond repair it should be replaced. Make sure you properly dispose of an extinguisher that can no longer be used.

Fire Extinguisher Inspection

Obsolete Fire Extinguishers

A fire extinguisher can also be rendered obsolete if it was made by a company that has gone out of business. If the extinguisher can no longer be serviced following the guidelines in the maintenance manual, it should be disposed of.

What can you do if you have any doubts about the manufacturers of your fire extinguisher? Get into contact with a local fire protection professional. They will have the most up to date list of fire extinguisher manufacturers in your area. They will be able to tell you whether it is still safe for you to continue using your extinguisher. 

Conclusion

Fire extinguishers don’t come with an expiry date.

This could make it tricky for you to know when they are coming to their end of life. I hope that this article has provided you with some tips that will help you look out for the first signs of wear and tear on your extinguisher. 

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Thanks for reading, and have a great day!

Cheers,

Craig