Maintaining Home Fire Extinguisher Basics

Sadly, home fires are tragically common. More than 340,000 home fires occur each year, according to the National Fire Protection Association. These fires cause more than $7 billion in direct property damage. Far worse, home fires claim more than 2,500 lives and injure more than 11,000 more people in the United States alone. Fire extinguishers and fire safety systems can greatly reduce risks and save lives. It’s vital, however, to learn how to maintain a fire extinguisher.

Why Is Fire Extinguisher Maintenance Important?    

Fire extinguishers can save lives and property. These days, extinguishers are filled with flame-retardant chemicals that can suppress flames and stop fires before they burn out of control. Without a fire extinguisher, you may stand little to no chance of putting the fire out before it spreads. Not only could this destroy your property, but you and others could also be hurt.

Water from your sink or a garden house may simply not be enough. In some cases, say with grease fires, water can actually make things worse. Fire extinguishers are better suited than water for snuffing out many fires, including grease fires. 

It’s smart to have multiple fire extinguishers in your home. Roughly half of all fires start in the kitchen, which should come as no surprise given that cooking often involves high heat. Having a fire extinguisher in the kitchen is essentially a must.

Malfunctioning electrical and lighting equipment, among other things, can cause fires essentially anywhere in the home. It’s smart to have at least one fire extinguisher that’s easy to access from your living room, office, and other rooms. 

Your garage, meanwhile, may be home to many flammable materials, including gasoline and oil. As such, it’s also wise to have another fire extinguisher in the garage. Fire extinguishers accessible from bedrooms is also prudent.

So why is fire extinguisher maintenance important? Properly maintained equipment can save lives and property. The keywords, however, are "properly maintained." If your extinguishers aren’t properly maintained they may fail when you need them most. Fortunately, it’s not especially difficult to keep an eye on extinguishers and proper maintenance and oversight can greatly mitigate risks.

How To Maintain a Fire Extinguisher

High-quality fire extinguishers are generally reliable. Still, it’s important to ensure they are well-maintained and in proper order. You should conduct a visible check of your fire extinguishers once a month. Properly maintaining home fire extinguishers includes:

  • Making sure that the extinguisher is easy to reach.
  • Check the hoses and nozzle for damage or wear and tear.
  • Check gauges to make sure that the dial is “green.”
  • Ensure that the pin and tamper seal are undamaged.

Fire extinguishers should also be serviced on an annual basis. This means taking them to professionals who can refill the extinguishers and also make sure that they’re in good order. The inspectors will also tag the extinguishers to denote when the extinguisher was serviced and inspected. Experts can also provide tips for fire safety and help you understand when and how to use the extinguisher.