Portable fire extinguishers are crucial to fire safety in your retail store, restaurant, office building, warehouse, manufacturing facility, or other type of commercial business. You must recharge fire extinguishers regularly and replace them when needed. While commerical fire extinguisher inspections is the best option, there are some fire extinguisher services you can yourself. 

If you reach for one during a fire and it doesn’t work, your entire business could go up in flames fast. That’s why it’s imperative that all extinguishers are inspected, repaired, or replaced as needed, and in working order at all times. Learn how often to replace fire extinguishers, situations for fire extinguisher replacement vs. repair, and smart habits for using fire extinguishers. This is your complete guide to recharging a fire extinguisher vs. replacing the unit.

Thirty-four years of data from “The Effectiveness of Portable Fire Extinguishers” report show that portable fire extinguishers were effective in extinguishing fires 95% of the time – National Association of Fire Equipment Distributors (NAFED)

When You Need a Fire Extinguisher Recharge

How often do fire extinguishers need to be recharged? Can you repair a fire extinguisher? First, let’s start with repair.

There really isn’t a fire extinguisher “repair” option. If a fire extinguisher canister or the hose, gauge, pins, nozzles, handle, or any other part is missing or in disrepair, it must be replaced. Fire extinguishers cannot be repaired in most circumstances.

Often people refer to repair when they mean fire extinguisher recharge. If there is no damage to the fire extinguisher you can refill the same canister. Once the extinguisher has been used, you must recharge it.

Where to Recharge Fire Extinguishers?

If you’re wondering where to get fire extinguishers recharged, a wide variety of places offer fire extinguisher recharging.  Certified fire equipment companies are the best for fire extinguisher recharges. Some fire departments offer recharging services too.

How Often to Recharge Fire Extinguishers?

Rechargeable fire extinguishers can be charged until they need to be replaced, which, by National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards, is 12 years. There are additional scenarios where fire extinguisher recharge services are necessary.

To know WHEN to recharge a fire extinguisher, follow this quick guide:

  • If a fire extinguisher has been discharged but is otherwise in good condition.
  • Even if a small amount of pressure has been released, recharging is necessary to increase the effectiveness during a fire and to meet NFPA 10 and local fire codes.
  • If you’re not sure why an extinguisher is losing pressure and recharging doesn’t help, then replace.
  • If your extinguisher(s) has never been recharged, NFPA requires recharging every 10 years.

How Often & When to Replace a Fire Extinguisher?

If nothing is wrong with your extinguisher, you should have fire extinguisher replacement every 12 years. This is the best rule of thumb for how often to recharge a fire extinguisher, so keep records on the tag to track. 

If recharging a fire extinguisher isn’t keeping pressure up or there are other signs of damage, it should be replaced, especially if its charge has been compromised. There are multiple signs you should replace fire extinguishers.

Signs You Need Fire Extinguisher Replacement:

If you notice any of the following signs, be sure to replace the fire extinguisher as soon as possible. Reliable, working fire extinguishers are vital to fire safety in your business. If there is damage, fire extinguisher recharging is not an option. 

fire equipment servicing & maintenance

Why You Must Replace Fire Extinguishers With Missing Inspection Tags?

The fire extinguisher inspection tag contains important information. It is a record of its maintenance history of every inspection and it’s condition. If you have a fire extinguisher with a missing tag, it must be replaced. Even if you get a new tag, you have no knowledge of who inspected the extinguisher or when and what was recorded.

What if the extinguisher has a history of pressure loss? You wouldn’t know the history to know if you needed a fire extinguisher replacement or if it was good to go. Though it seems to be a minor factor, the fire extinguisher tag will help you ensure your building’s occupants are protected by each extinguisher and your fire protection is code compliant.

When a fire extinguisher is used on a fire, 75% of the time, the fire department is not required to attend the incident EnGauge, Inc.
fire equipment servicing & maintenance

Which is More Economical, Fire Extinguisher Recharge or Replacement?

How do you know which is more economical – recharging or replacing?

Sometimes, replacing the whole unit is less expensive than recharging it, especially with small canisters. Look into your pricing options to find out what is best for your budget. While it may be cheaper to recharge fire extinguishers, you must also consider the safety of your business and the potential losses you could incur if your fire extinguisher didn’t work during a fire. Better to be safe than sorry.

If your extinguisher has an uncracked or dent-free exterior, hoses are in-tact, and the inspection tag is attached, recharging the fire extinguisher may be the most economical choice. If you’re uncertain if your extinguisher needs replacing or recharging, it’s probably best to replace and have the security of knowing you have a brand-new, working fire extinguisher. Give yourself peace of mind knowing it’s in working order.

A Few Steps to Smart Fire Extinguisher Habits

The durable nature of fire extinguishers and thorough monthly inspections assure they stay charged and in good working order. However, there is more to fire extinguisher safety than recharging and replacing. There are additional NFPA standards and local requirements that must be followed. Smart fire extinguisher habits will keep your people and your business fire safe. 

Almost 2 million fires are handled entirely by a fire extinguisher in the U.S. every year. EnGauge, Inc.

Not Sure on Recharging or Replacing? Get a Fire Extinguisher Inspection!

If you’re not sure whether you should replace fire extinguishers at your business or you need fire extinguisher recharging, contact AIE.  We can inspect your used fire extinguishers and determine if you need to recharge fire extinguishers or full replacement.

It’s best to let fire experts check it out with a fire extinguisher inspection if you are unsure.

Our nationwide commercial fire protection services team can also assist with choosing the best extinguisher for each area of your business and perform annual fire extinguisher inspections, which must be completed by a licensed technician. Contact AIE today for help with your company’s fire protection needs. 800-892-9863

If you have questions about residential fire extinguishers, please contact your local fire department. 


Information posted in our blog is merely for educational and informational purposes. While the information has been verified to the best of our abilities, we cannot guarantee its total accuracy, and it should not be considered legally binding advice. This blog is not intended as a substitute for professional advice, and should you decide to act upon the information, you do so at your own risk.