How To Maintain Your Home Fire Extinguisher

It's a great idea to keep a fire extinguisher in your home, but if it's not in great working order it's no better than not having one at all! If you'd like to find out how to make sure your extinguisher is in top shape so it's ready if the worst should happen, here is everything you need to know.

  • Make sure it's stored correctly, and in a convenient place. When you're deciding where in your home to situate your extinguisher, think logically about where is most likely to suffer a fire. Kitchens are a great choice, but if you smoke in a room where there are soft furnishings you should have one in there as well. Once you've picked your location, think about how it will be stored: it's a good idea to wall mount it to keep it out of the way, and you need to be sure it's somewhere that won't leave it vulnerable to being knocked or bashed too often.

  • Keep it wiped clean. Dirt, dust and grime will gradually accumulate, so you'll need to wipe the extinguisher's surface clean every so often. If it gets too dirty, dust can interfere with the nozzle should you try to use it--which can seriously harm the extinguisher's efficacy.

  • Be careful the guard and nozzle aren't moved or disturbed. It's important that the nozzle and its guard and release pull are in the right place, to ensure that the extinguisher works as intended when you put it into use. When you're mounting and cleaning it, be careful that you don't move these.

  • Give powder-based extinguishers a shake every few months. If your home extinguisher is powder-based (read the label to check the classification), you should give the whole thing a gentle shake every now and then. This keeps the contents from settling, which means it will be more effective should you ever need to use it.

  • Check the pressure gauge about twice a year. Extinguishers rely on correct pressure inside the cannister to work, so it's important to ensure that pressure is maintained. There will be a gauge on the outside of the cannister showing you what the pressure is; check to ensure that it's within the recommended zone marked on the dial. If it isn't, contact a fire extinguisher maintenance service to calibrate the pressure or replace the extinguisher entirely.

  • Remember to replace it if it's ever used. Even if you don't empty your extinguisher entirely, it's important to replace it if it's ever used even a small amount. This is because the pressure alters after the first use, and the nozzle isn't designed to sit uncovered and then be used again. Make sure you dispose of the old one correctly--many manufacturers will take old canisters back and give you some money off a new one in exchange, or a fire extinguisher maintenance service will help you out.