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Thread: Fire Extinguisher replacement, any tips?

  1. #1
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    Mar 2008
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    Fire Extinguisher replacement, any tips?

    I took my 20 year old [unused thankfully] extinguishers to the local hazardous waste recycle department. They still showed green on the scale but somewhere I heard that if you tip them upside down and don't feel movement of the materials inside falling to the bottom, they need to be replaced.
    I haven't kept up on any new developments in extinguishers so does anyone have advice on brand and/or type for my basement shop?

  2. #2
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    Feb 2003
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    Too late now but when I had mine inspected annually if he didn’t feel the contents shift he would hold it upside down and tap the bottom with a Dead-blow hammer.
    Steve Jenkins, McKinney, TX. 469 742-9694
    Always use the word "impossible" with extreme caution

  3. #3
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    Mar 2018
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    If the top part is metal then you can take them to a fire equipment shop to be inspected and refilled, some of ours are quite old but our insurance company is happy as long as they are inspected and tagged annually. They have to do a hydraulic pressure test every so many years, but most years it's just a quick check. The ones with plastic tops are pretty much throwaway once the pressure reads low, from what I have been told.
    Zach

  4. #4
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    May 2008
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    Peshtigo,WI
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    Hate to say it Jon, but you probably threw away perfectly good fire extinguishers.

    I work for a company that makes about 1,000,000 stored pressure extinguishers a year.

    As long as your gauge is in the green and the "shell" isn't deformed, dented etc., it's okay if the chemical inside doesn't move when the unit is tipped upside down.

    I wouldn't go thumping it with any type of hammer either. Our units are pressurized to about 190 p.s.i.. If the integrity of that unit were compromised for any reason you could end up with a big mess in your hands. I don't know of anyone that hits their compressor tank with any type of hammer for any reason and they're not usually holding 190 p.s.i.

    As to new developments, I don't know of any for dry chemical extinguishers. We're building them the same way today as we did over 20 years ago.

    I definitely wouldn't buy an extinguisher at the big box home centers. I would buy one from a industrial/commercial distributor. I know they'll cost more but you'll be getting a much better made unit that will have a much longer life.

    Buckeye, Badger, Ansul, Pyrochem, Amerex are some brand name extinguishers that I could recommend. They all make stored pressure units with ABC chemical. That should cover any need you have for your basement shop and home use.
    Confidence: The feeling you experience before you fully understand the situation

  5. #5
    2.5gallon pressurized water with a surfactant is most bang for the buck and the most punch. Most importantly, it s cheap enough to refill that you can test it by using test fires that you set. ColdFire is one surfactant Look for USDA fire service certification.

  6. #6
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    Waterford, PA
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    I keep rechargeable style in my workshop, hubby's workshop and our home. I take them to a "Fire Protection" shop every other year for a check as long as they show green on the gauge. Have had to have them tested, but they give you a loaner to take home. When yours is ready to go, you just return the loaner and pickup yours. The charges are very minimal.

  7. #7
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    Somewhere in the Land of Lincoln
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    To bad you discarded them. As has been said they were likely still good. You could have taken them for an inspection and recertification. It's hydrostatic testing not hydraulic testing. A water cannon extinguisher works for combustibles such as wood, paper, and debris. We use them for pre-wetting when doing welding, cutting, and grinding outside. Also to knock down a fire before it get's going if a spark does ignite something. However they are a poor choice for many other things. Definitely not the preferred choice for electrical or flammable liquid. It's difficult to beat an ABC for all around coverage.

  8. #8
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    Got pulled over for a Coast Guard safety check Wednesday. He checked the fire extinguisher and said to periodically tip it upside down and thump it on the bottom with your hand to fluff up the dry chemical so it works properly if needed. Otherwise it tends to settle to the bottom and cake.

    Convince me I am wrong: I think the biannual safety inspection by a certified fire extinguisher shop is a scam, at least for an extinguisher with a gauge. Often the cost is as much as a cheap extinguisher. I could go with five years though. I would be interested in the failure rates on a two year old extinguisher. Of course many would say that anything other than zero is unacceptable.
    Last edited by Ole Anderson; 11-16-2019 at 11:16 AM.
    NOW you tell me...

  9. #9
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    Just a note: our local city hazmat place wont take fire extinguishers. They suggested taking to a fire service company.

  10. #10
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    A little story about fire extinguishers;
    We were on a trip from Mi to Al, then to Fl and Disney. '75 Ford van pulling a camper. 4 kids.

    On our way from Al to Orlando, there is a big "POOF" and a cloud of smoke in the back of the van.
    I pull over and jump out, open the back doors, and their is our son, (2nd born) all white, sitting in a white cloud, in a white van. The van was factory painted a dark blue. He bolted out couching.
    Apparently he was messing with a small extinguisher that we kept next to the spare tire.

    Get an extinguisher that has a screw on top. They can be recharged in case the kids mess with it.
    Never, under any circumstances, consume a laxative and sleeping pill, on the same night

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2008
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    Peshtigo,WI
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stan Calow View Post
    Just a note: our local city hazmat place wont take fire extinguishers. They suggested taking to a fire service company.
    No need to take them to a Hazmat place. If it's a dry powder chemical extinguisher there's nothing hazardous in them. You could discharge them in your backyard and then throw the empty shell in the trash.
    Confidence: The feeling you experience before you fully understand the situation

  12. #12
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    Peshtigo,WI
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ole Anderson View Post
    Got pulled over for a Coast Guard safety check Wednesday. He checked the fire extinguisher and said to periodically tip it upside down and thump it on the bottom with your hand to fluff up the dry chemical so it works properly if needed. Otherwise it tends to settle to the bottom and cake.

    Convince me I am wrong: I think the biannual safety inspection by a certified fire extinguisher shop is a scam, at least for an extinguisher with a gauge. Often the cost is as much as a cheap extinguisher. I could go with five years though. I would be interested in the failure rates on a two year old extinguisher. Of course many would say that anything other than zero is unacceptable.
    The chemical will settle to the bottom, where else would it go, it won't cake though.

    The company I work for makes way over a million extinguishers a year that meet all sorts of certifications in different countries around the world and we still have to have an outside company come and inspect the extinguishers hanging in our plant.
    Confidence: The feeling you experience before you fully understand the situation

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