According to Fire Extinguisher manufacturer First Alert, the life span of an extinguisher depends on a number of factors. Consumers should rely primarily on visual checks to determine when the extinguisher needs to be replaced. Manufacturer Kidde recommends replacing extinguishers after 12 years, even if no damage is found.
Signs of Damage
Regardless of a fire extinguisher's age, Real Simple Magazine recommends regularly checking your fire extinguisher and replacing it if damaged. Signs of damage include any cracking on the hose or nozzle. You also should replace it if the nozzle is blocked with debris, or the handle is wobbly, broken or missing.
Fire extinguishers have pressure indicator valves that should be inspected monthly, according to manufacturer Kidde. If the indicator needle is not in the green or full area the extinguisher may not work properly and should be replaced.
If your fire extinguisher shows signs of damage or the gauge reads empty, it is time to replace it. If you have a fire extinguisher with a gauge reading full, take it to your local fire station or Household Hazardous Waste disposal site. If the gauge reads empty, you can remove the plastic top and recycle the steel body at a recycling center.