The alternative to refilling of fire extinguisher is, of course, buying a new one. But considering the cost involved, it is simple common sense to refill the existing extinguisher. There is no reason why your extinguisher cannot last years, provided you refill it on time and carry out other routine maintenance.
The simple answer is: whenever it is used. No matter how small the amount of gas expelled, the extinguisher must be refilled after each use. This means that the extinguisher has to be refilled after any routine inspection, since you will be using it to check pressure gauge readings and the discharge mechanism.
Such routine inspections are necessary to be carried out once every few months and even if you are expelling a very small amount of gas, keep your extinguisher recharge ready.
Every home and business today is required to keep a fire extinguisher. This means that they must also have the skill to refill the extinguisher. However, a better option would be to call a professional refilling agency. The filling equipment can be expensive, which makes a professional agency a more economical option. Additionally, with a professional agency you can be assured of a properly executed job.
- Check if your fire extinguisher is even refillable, since some extinguishers are not so. You can check the label or the gauge, since it will be clearly mentioned.
- Decide if you need to go for refilling. You can check the pressure gauge to see if it shows red. If you have used it (even if for a small amount), you must go for refilling.
- A practical option would be to look for a refilling agency. You can check online, go through directories or ask around for options on refilling agency. A handy tip here is to find out the refilling agency for the nearest fire station! You can also ask the fire department for recommendations. But make sure that the agency has the proper licences and accreditation.
- If you are going for refilling at home, you would need a recharge unit. This will include an agent, an air compressor and proper equipment. After this you will need proper training, since refilling of refilling of fire extinguishers is painstaking and precise process that cannot be bungled up.
- Once the extinguisher has been refilled, check the pressure gauge to be sure. It must read around 100 to 175 psi. Some will show a green (or some other specified marker) for readiness.
Fire extinguishers must be inspected once a month. This frequency can be higher in high risk environments. Some of the essential factors that you must ensure are:
- The extinguisher is placed at a clearly marked place and not behind by any obstruction. It must be clearly visible to anyone who needs it in emergency.
- The tamper seal and pin should be intact.
- The pressure is at the right level.
- There should dents or leaks.
- Wipe of any chemical deposits or rust.
- Shake the dry chemical extinguishers if the label says so. This is necessary to ensure that the chemical does not settle down.
Extinguishers should also go through regular inspections. We check to see if it is fully charged and operable. Any fault with nozzle or handle must be addressed immediately. The frequency of the inspection depends on the situation. In high risk areas inspections are carried out more frequently.
You can contact a maintenance agency for carrying out regular inspections. The agency will also offer recharge services. As indicated above, hiring an agency for refilling of fire extinguishers is advised because of the expertise involved, In case, you are doing it yourself, be sure to get the right training. An agency will also make sure that all parts of the extinguishers are working in perfect order.