Why Must Fire Extinguishers Be Routinely Maintained?

During a fire emergency, the only thing that is going to make a difference is a working fire extinguisher. Most often, homeowners get a fire extinguisher and do not usually look for it till any emergency occurs.

Imagine the devastating consequences when you find out your fire extinguisher is not working during an accident. That would be a massacre!

You must check every fire extinguisher at least once every month to ensure it is working correctly. Ensure an unbroken locking pin and tamper seal during the inspection. Keep the pressure gauge in the green operating zone, and update the safety maintenance tag to the latest information.

Do not make the mistake of just leaving your fire extinguisher unexamined until any incident happens. It can lead to fatal injuries and severe property damage. Know all about why fire extinguishers must be routinely maintained.

Maintenance Routine For Fire Extinguishers

A regular check-up of fire extinguishers is preferable once every six months, but most experts recommend checking every month. A technician or engineer must conduct the hydrostatic test every six and twelve years. This test eliminates the possibility of any corrosion or leak and confirms the cylinder’s integrity.

Professionals can do regular check-ups, or you can hire an agency to do the routine inspection on your behalf. However, checking the fire extinguisher can be very cost-effective if you do it yourself.

Why Check Fire Extinguishers?

People taking fire extinguishers for granted is nothing unusual. Fire extinguishers are most often left neglected.

In reality, you need to service the fire extinguishers regularly. Keeping your fire extinguishers in working order is extremely important in any emergency. You do not want faulty equipment when lives are in extreme danger in fire accidents.

Do check all the fire extinguishers regularly and take steps to service them to ensure the safety protocol. Take a look at why you should check fire extinguishers routinely.

Internal Damage

A fire extinguisher’s cylinder may suffer deterioration or corrosion in sneaky areas. When the aluminum body gets damaged physically, the pressure inside the extinguisher can be disturbed, leading to abnormal discharges.

The hose or nozzle of the fire extinguisher can get faulty too. Debris, dirt, or insects may get lodged, reducing the capability of the extinguisher.

Leaks

Due to various factors, leaks are not unusual for fire extinguishers. Although there are pressure gauges for checking the pressure, sometimes these gauges may give false results.

A technician can check for the actual pressure level. If there is any leak, the cylinder will lose its pressure. In that case, you will need to fix the leak and refill the cylinder for future use.

Recharging

An important reminder is to recharge the fire extinguishers every once in a while. Even a one-time short use may induce leakage over time. It is best to renew or refill the fire extinguisher after every use.

How To Maintain A Fire Extinguisher?

Checking a fire extinguisher is no difficult task. You can embed most information from the nameplate of the fire extinguisher. Visual inspection is acceptable to ensure the state of the extinguisher.

Here are a few more pointers to help you maintain your fire extinguisher:

Check Placement

Correct placement of the fire extinguisher is crucial for using them in an emergency. All fire extinguishers must be visible from any angle.

It must be easy to access the fire extinguisher, and the cylinder should be well within reaching distance. It is ideal to place fire extinguishers every 75 feet in any hallway.

Read Information Label

The nameplate of any fire extinguisher is a reliable source of instructions and a manual for checking and using the extinguisher. This label contains valuable information about the particular fire extinguisher and how to operate or maintain it.

fire extinguisher instructions face

Inspect Tamper Seal And Locking Pin

It is essential to thoroughly inspect the tamper seal and the locking pin. The seal ensures that the cylinder is intact and ready to be used. If the seal is broken or looks shabby, you should discard the fire extinguisher for further inspection.

The locking pin should be in place correctly. Without the locking pin, unintentional discharging of the extinguisher may happen. The seal should also include the latest inspection date.

Conduct Visible Inspection

A thorough visible inspection like checking for apparent corrosion, leaks, bents, or physical damage. Make sure that the hose and nozzle are free of clogs and leaks.

Check Pressure Gauge

Every fire extinguisher should have a pressure gauge for inspection. The indicator should be in the operating range, typically marked by the green zone. Lift the extinguisher to check the weight. The extinguisher should be pretty heavy if it’s full.

Check Pressure Gauge

Tips To Maintain A Fire Extinguisher

Learning a few pro tips for properly maintaining a fire extinguisher never hurts. Here’s a rundown:

  • Keep the firing cylinder squeaky clean all the time. The hose, nozzle, and cylinder body must be free of dirt, grease, oil, or stains.
  • Protect the aluminum body, nozzle, and handle. Getting any dent will significantly damage the unit.
  • Try to keep a written record of inspection dates and inquiries. Keep track of the pressure levels and usage records.
  • Place the fire extinguisher in an easy-to-reach area away from extreme heat and chemicals.

Read: How To Clean Up Fire Extinguisher Powder?

When To Dispose Of A Fire Extinguisher?

If a fire extinguisher is in a critical condition while using, it is better to dispose of it and replace it with a functional unit.

Many people are surprised to learn that fire extinguishers don’t last very long. It is recommended to dispose of fire extinguishers that are not used after 10 to 12 years.

It does not matter whether the fire extinguisher was never used or not; a fire extinguisher should never remain operational after a decade. Rather than keeping faulty equipment and risking people’s lives, throw away the fire extinguisher in these circumstances:

  • If the safety pin is broken, immediately replace the fire extinguisher.
  • The handle of the fire extinguisher needs to be firm and solid. If that component is shaky, you should replace the unit.
  • Low pressure is a sign of leakage. Instantly repair the cylinder or better replace it.
  • You should replace or repair your fire extinguisher immediately if there is visible physical damage.

Most often, fire extinguishers are not repairable part by part. So, you should replace the whole unit even if a small portion is not functioning.

Conclusion

You should regularly check and maintain a new fire extinguisher. Keep in mind, that just keeping a fire extinguisher is not enough for disaster management. As the proverb goes – better be safe than sorry!

Regular maintenance may seem like a hassle, but it will save lives. So, why must fire extinguishers be routinely maintained, you ask? It will matter when you need it the most. Never keep your fire extinguishers unchecked for too long!

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