Can You Reuse Fire Extinguishers?

Fire extinguishers allow you to put out a small blaze or contain the damage while awaiting the fire department. Models are available that are suitable for most common house fires, like cooking fires, flammable liquids and electrical blazes. Some home fire extinguishers are reusable while others require replacement after use. Disposable extinguishers have plastic valves while rechargeable units have metal valves.

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Some fire extinguishers are reusable.

Recharging

Reusable fire extinguishers require recharging once you use them, whether or not you empty them completely. Your local fire department can refer you to a recharging location if you do not already know one, and you will pay about $15 for the refill as of June 2011. Get the extinguisher refilled immediately so you are never without protection in an emergency.

Replacement

One-time use fire extinguishers must be replaced with new units when you discharge them. Immediately buy a new extinguisher even if you believe that you did not completely empty the old one. A used extinguisher may contain less fire-extinguishing chemicals than you believe it does, or it could malfunction while you are fighting a blaze. A new unit assures that you have a full, functional tool at your disposal for emergencies.

Selection

Rechargeable and disposable fire extinguishers are both effective firefighting tools. Disposable units are more convenient for homeowners who prefer to pick up new units at a local store rather than finding recharging locations. Base your selection on the extinguisher type and size rather than just reusability. Household extinguishers should be suitable for A, B and C fires, which covers common combustibles, flammable liquids and electrical appliances, according to the U. S. Fire Administration. Choose a model light enough to lift and wield easily in an emergency.

Considerations

Fire extinguishers sometimes need recharging or replacement even if you have never used them. Extinguishers have a limited lifespan, and their status is displayed by a dial on the handle. The dial hand is on a green band for properly charged extinguishers. The extinguisher needs charging or replacement when the hand moves into the dial's red area. Check your household extinguishers regularly, and immediately take care of units that are not properly charged. Extinguishers have a limited lifespan, which is marked on the unit. Replace your extinguishers when they pass their useful lifespan even if the pressure dial is still in the green area.

Maintenance

Both refillable and disposable fire extinguishers require some simple maintenance to keep them in good working order. Visually inspect your fire extinguishers regularly to ensure the pressure dials do not show a too-high or too-low reading and that the units are in good shape, the U. S. Fire Administration advises. Wipe off any dust, dirt or grime that accumulates on your extinguishers, and ensure they are not blocked by anything that would limit access in case of a fire.