Fire extinguishers are our most reliable go-to device when a fire starts at home or elsewhere. Its importance could never be undermined, as statistics show that in over 2600 recorded fire incidences, 81.5% of the cases were successfully dealt with by a handy fire extinguisher. It is also worth noting that in more than 70% of those times, the fire department need not be called because a fire extinguisher is at hand. Fire extinguishers had been saving lives and properties and continue to do so. However, for fire extinguishers to be serviceable in urgent times, it must go through maintenance processes like recharging. Recharging is the process of refilling a fire extinguisher with a firefighting agent and re-applying pressure in it. Many people don’t know that the device is refillable, much less know how to recharge fire extinguisher.
Step-by-step Guide in Recharging a Fire Extinguisher
Recharging a fire extinguisher can be an easy task when you have access to the right tools. But without the tools, it’s best to submit your fire extinguishers to authorized recharging stations. They are the once with the right to seal and tag recharged fire extinguishers to ensure quality control. Nonetheless, it pays to know how to recharge fire extinguisher, so here’s a step-by-step guide for a quick follow-through.
Step 1: Discharging
- Before you recharge a fire extinguisher, make sure to fully discharge it first. To do this, you will have to prepare a receptacle for the discharged particles. It should be a closed container with a hose attachable to the fire extinguisher’s nozzle. Discharging the extinguisher’s remaining contents should be easy by securing the receptacle’s hose to the nozzle, making sure it fits snugly to avoid dispersing the content to your surroundings. After this, remove the pin that secures the trigger mechanism, and press it down until the extinguisher disperses no more. This is the first step on how to recharge fire extinguisher.
Step 2: Disassemble and Inspect
- Once you have fully discharged the fire extinguisher, you can proceed with unscrewing the trigger mechanism to remove the discharge valve from the cylinder.
- Once done, remove the remaining air trapped in the siphon tube of the discharge valve by blowing it off.
- Disassemble the extinguisher head- remove the valve from the valve stem and the spring.
- Inspect the valves for visible signs of wear and tear and replace when damaged. Clean the valve if it’s still in excellent condition. The valve stem, however, should be replaced when the unit has reached six years. After dealing with the valve stem, brush and polish the valve’s inner portion to ensure ease of reinstalling.
Step 3: Refill with Fire Extinguishing Agent
- Refill the cylinder with the right firefighting agent and make sure to load only the appropriate amount in weight as specified in the recharging manual specific to the device.
Step 4: Reinstall the Extinguisher Head
- Reinstall the extinguisher head as if screwing it on the cylinder.
- Make sure the gauge is aligned to the mark on the cylinder to ensure it is fully locked up.
Step 5: Re-pressurize the Unit
- Attach the pin of the pressurizing machine to the extinguisher head.
- Pressurize the device with the suitable pressurizing gas to achieve the pressure suited to the unit specified in the manual.
- Perform a thorough leak test.
Step 6: Seal and Tag
- Replace the hose attached to the nozzle, reinstall the safety pin to the trigger mechanism and seal and tag the unit.
When to Recharge a Fire Extinguisher
Now that you already know how to recharge fire extinguisher, you should also know when is the best time to have those units undergo the recharging process. Most people think that you only reload an extinguisher when it’s fully discharged after an event. This may not be the case at all. There are instances when the fire extinguisher needs to be recharged even when it’s never been used. Here’s when you need to recharge your fire extinguisher:
- Recharge the unit after use. The fire extinguisher needs to be fully recharged after being used to ensure it is serviceable on the next fire incident. Using the extinguisher even for just a short time can reduce the pressure or the agent inside the cylinder, making it ineffective to respond in case of fire. Thus, even when you feel like the chemical agent has not been fully consumed, the need for recharging remains. A non-functioning fire extinguisher is the least you would want in times of fire outbreaks.
- Recharge every six years from the identified date of manufacture. Ideally, fire extinguishers need to be recharged every six years according to NFPA 10 or the Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers. This is because by recharging the unit, you also get to inspect the internal parts and ensure they’re still robust and functional, or in need of replacement parts. Recharging, therefore, serves a dual purpose.
- Recharge when damaged. If you see signs of damage to the unit, such as the presence of rust, and other deformities, it best to recharge the extinguisher to ensure functionality. Also, if the unit undergoes compromising instances, such as dropping or being thrown, recharge it. These incidents often reduce the extinguisher’s effectiveness, leaving you with just a decorative hanging unit on your wall that can’t serve its purpose.
As we supply our homes with devices that will keep us safe or ready to respond to emergencies, we also have to be conscious of the device’s functionality over time. If we neglect these units that serve important security purposes, we may not be able to avoid devastating incidents. It will leave you nothing but regrets over lost properties or lives in the aftermath of fire outbreaks. Thus, when it comes to fire prevention, apart from knowing how to recharge fire extinguishers, you also need to be aware of the unit’s maintenance service requirements. For convenience in maintaining your home’s fire safety measures, you can call a handyman to do the job. Find out more about fire safety.