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Is It Better to Replace or Recharge Fire Extinguishers?

You already know that handheld fire extinguishers are a vital part of your business’s fire safety plan. Of course, the extinguishers in your building can only be effective if they’re fully charged and in good condition. If you recently discharged a fire extinguisher to fight a blaze, you have two options: you can either recharge it or replace the entire canister.

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So, is it better to replace or recharge fire extinguishers? The best way to answer this question is to call Kauffman Co. in Houston and personally speak with one of our fire protection experts. We’ll help you determine the best option for restoring your fire extinguisher’s charge. For general advice, read on.

When to Recharge a Fire Extinguisher

Most of the time, recharging a fire extinguisher is the best choice, so always explore this option first. You should recharge your fire extinguisher:

  • If the canister is in good condition: Most high-quality fire extinguishers are designed to last many years with proper maintenance. As long as the exterior shell and other components of your fire extinguisher are in good condition, plan to recharge it. This choice reduces waste and saves you money.
  • Even when only a small amount has been discharged: Whether you emptied the whole canister fighting a fire or you released just a small amount of pressure, you need to recharge the fire extinguisher. Even a tiny bit of pressure loss could make it harder to fight a fire next time.
  • Every 10 years: The durable construction of portable fire extinguishers helps them hold a charge for years. Still, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) requires rechargeable fire extinguishers to be recharged every 10 years.

When to Replace a Fire Extinguisher

While you should always explore recharging options first, sometimes a replacement is best. You should replace your fire extinguisher:

  • If the canister is slowly losing its charge: If you haven’t used your fire extinguisher in a long time, but the pressure gauge is slowly going down, the nozzle may be leaky, or the shell cracked. Either way, a slow pressure loss is reason enough to replace the fire extinguisher.
  • If any other parts are damaged: The fire extinguisher may still hold a charge, but if the handle is wobbly or the pin is broken or missing, the extinguisher may not work properly when you need it to fight a fire. Monthly self inspections should reveal these kinds of problems so you can replace the fire extinguisher as soon as possible.
  • If the inspection tag is missing: This tag discloses the maintenance history of the fire extinguisher. Without it, you have no idea how long it’s been since the last inspection or what condition the canister is in. It’s not worth endangering your building and the people inside when you can easily replace the fire extinguisher with a new one you know is reliable.
  • When it’s the more economical choice: Sometimes, replacing the whole unit is less expensive than recharging it, which is especially likely with small canisters. Look into your pricing options to find out for sure.
  • Every 12 years: Perhaps you have a disposable fire extinguisher that can’t be recharged. The NFPA requires you to replace these canisters every 12 years.

When in Doubt, Contact Kauffman Co.

As a full-service fire protection company based in Houston, Kauffman Co. is qualified to perform all the fire extinguisher services you need, including inspections, replacements, bulk sales, and recharging services. If you have questions about the condition of your fire extinguishers, or you need advice about whether to recharge or replace them, contact Kauffman Co. at (713) 893-1090 today.

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