Your home should have at least a few fire extinguishers located throughout. One in the kitchen, one in the staircase, one in the garage, one in the basement and another in any area that has a wood-burning stove or fireplace. Buying and placing your fire extinguishers isn't enough – you have to remember to inspect them and replace or recharge them when the time comes. So, how do you know when your fire extinguisher needs to be replaced or recharged? What can you do with the fire extinguishers that are no longer reliable to use? This article will answer both of these questions.

Fire Extinguisher Inspections

You should inspect your fire extinguishers once each month and take them to a professional to be inspected once each year. During your inspection, check the expiration date and read the gauge. If the needle on the gauge is below the green zone, the extinguisher will not perform the way it needs to when a fire ignites.

As you look over your extinguisher, check the hose for any signs of damage. If the hose is dry rotted, cracked or broken, the contents of the extinguisher will not be released properly and won't reliably extinguish the flames.

Replace or Recharge

If your fire extinguisher is less than 5 years old and the hose is in good condition, it is probably safe to have it recharged. Extinguishers older than 5 years should be replaced. If you have any doubt, replacing is the best option as it typically costs nearly as much to replace the unit as it does to recharge it.

Unusable Dry-Chemical Extinguisher Use

If you have a dry-chemical extinguisher that is outdated or has a damaged hose, you can still make use of it. Buying a dry-chemical extinguisher bag and some sealable freezer bags will give your otherwise useless extinguisher a new use.

Blow the powder out of the extinguisher using the blow-out bag. Fill the freezer bags with the powder and store them throughout your home. Keep these bags near areas that are prone to fire – in the kitchen, around the wood burning stove, close to the fire place and near the closest exit to the chimney. If a fire ignites, you can toss one of these bags into the fire and it will work well to put the flames out. This is especially helpful in the event of a chimney fire. Toss one or two of these bags down your chimney and the flames should quickly be extinguished.

Talk with Echo Fire Protection or your local fire extinguisher professional to learn more about inspecting, replacing and reusing your fire extinguishers.