Design & DIY

Refilling a fire extinguisher

Is it possible to refill a fire extinguisher?

There are two types of household fire extinguishers: rechargeable and disposable. The type may be printed right on the cylinder with the instructions for use. If not, and if you no longer have the package it came in, you can find out by taking it to a recharging service.

If the fittings and nozzle on your extinguisher are made of plastic, it’s probably the disposable type. If they’re metal, the extinguisher may be able to be recharged. However, even if it’s described as rechargeable, recharging a small, inexpensive extinguisher can cost almost as much as purchasing a new one. As well, using and recharging your extinguisher can weaken the gaskets and seals so that it slowly loses pressure and could let yo y u down when you need it. The older the extinguisher, the less trustworthy its gaskets are, so if it’s been stored at your cottage for a decade, you’d be better off replacing it.

Small, all-purpose extinguishers are typically rated 1A-10BC. A heavy-duty extinguisher, such as one rated 3A-40BC or 4A-60BC, made for use in offices and workshops, is generally more robustly built. These extinguishers are worth recharging and are more trustworthy afterward.

If you decide to buy a new extinguisher, remember to discharge the old one completely before disposing of it with your garbage (you never want to puncture or incinerate a pressurized cylinder). Alternatively, you could buy a new one and keep the old one for extra firefighting power in a potential cottage emergency.