General Question

2davidc8's avatar

What is the shelf life of a home fire extinguisher?

Asked by 2davidc8 (4330 points ) August 12th, 2011

I’m talking about ordinary, consumer model fire extinguishers that you can buy at Home Depot or Ace Hardware, not heavy-duty commercial or firefighter ones. I’ve got one that has the usual A-B-C ratings for several years now. How do I know if it’s still good? It does not have a dial that shows its remaining strength or anything like that.

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9 Answers

snowberry's avatar

You could take it to a place that services them and ask. I’m guessing they have a gadget that will show the internal pressure. It’s probably the only way you could tell for sure, unless of course you discharged it, and then you’d know how good it WAS. LOL

Anyway, they could just re-charge it again.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

The recharge and certificate would cost more than the price of a new one. Most have a date code on the cylinder, if they don’t have a gauge.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

I agree with @Tropical_Willie‘s post. I took mine to the local fire station, and they said that they would dispose of it properly.

john65pennington's avatar

Buy two…...one for your home and one for your car. They do come in handy.

Jboy's avatar

There is normally a date for expiration on the side of the fire extinguisher. They probably will work past that date, but those dates are set according to testing and long-term usability. Best to have multiple extinguishers as well, as john65pennington mentioned.

peridot's avatar

I’m going to keep an eye on this question… I always assumed that if the needle on the gauge was in the green zone, it was okay. Since the contents are sealed and under pressure, I didn’t think they could degrade… am I wrong in assuming this? 0_o

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

When I was in the hotel business, all of the company’s hotels were required to have their fire extinguishers inspected each year by a certified authority. The intent, of course, was to prevent a liability case should there be a fire. In reality though, it was also due to the fact that if they aren’t checked on a regular basis, they may become less effective over time.

Here is a Care and Maintenance of Your Fire Extinguisher site. Basically, checking the pressure gauge, if there is one, is one tip. Another is to give it a shake every month so that the heavier chemicals do not clump together.

peridot's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer thank you. Got it bookmarked :)

2davidc8's avatar

Thank you @Pied_Pfeffer, @Jboy, @Tropical_Willie, @snowberry for your answers. I didn’t know there is an expiration date on the side of the fire extinguisher. I will take a look. I have two extinguishers. One has a gauge, one does not. They are more than 10 years old, and the one with the gauge still shows the needle in the green, so I figure the gauge must be useless and misleading. A property manager told me that you have to shake these things every 2 or 3 months or so, so that the powder doesn’t settle to the bottom and clog up the works when you need the extinguisher the most. He said that most people either don’t know this or forget to do this. However, it would seem to me that if the powder is heavy enough to settle to the bottom, it would have done so after just a few days. How inconvenient to have to shake it every few days just to keep it in good working order! So that can’t be the whole story. So, thank you, @Pied_Pfeffer, for the link. I will take a look at the article!

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