Fire extinguishers are designed to last a long time. As long as 10 – 12 years, in fact (with proper maintenance, of course). But after a while, you will have to bite the bullet and dispose of your unit. The question is, when and how should you do it?
When Should You Dispose Of A Fire Extinguisher?
Many fire protection companies recommend that you have your fire extinguishers replaced after every use or any other time you need to have them recharged. This makes sense, too – it costs pretty much the same to have them recharged or replaced, and depending on the condition of the cylinder, the fire protection company can recycle your old extinguisher and use it again.
If you haven’t used your extinguisher yet, there are a few things you should look out for that would require you to have it replaced. For one thing, the seal around the neck can start to crack, which would allow pressure inside the cylinder to escape and would prevent proper discharge in the event of a fire.
The extinguishant within the extinguisher can also settle and cake on the bottom of the extinguisher. This only happens if you don’t ever touch your extinguisher, so try to shake it up about once a month to move the contents around.
The last thing you should watch out for that would require you to dispose of your extinguisher is any exterior damage to the fire extinguisher cylinder. This includes things like:
- A cracked, clogged or ripped hose or nozzle
- A missing pin or missing tamper seal
- A broken or wobbly handle
- A missing inspection tag
How Do You Dispose Of Your Fire Extinguisher?
Fire extinguishers are filled with corrosive chemicals under pressure. As such, they can’t just be thrown away – you need to do a few things before you toss them out.
If the extinguisher is still full:
Call your local fire department (non-emergency, obviously) to see if they will take the extinguisher to use for training purposes or to dispose of themselves. If they don’t take it, bring the fire extinguisher to a hazardous waste disposal facility for processing.
If the extinguisher is empty:
Squeeze the handle to make sure you get out every last drop of extinguishant. Next, pop off the head (to prove that it is empty). Most recycling facilities will accept empty steel cylinders.
Once you’ve disposed of your extinguisher, don’t forget to buy fire extinguisher replacement!