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How to Maintain Your Home Fire Extinguisher

Updated: February 2016

A fire extinguisher is something most people don't think about until they need one. While you may be able to use a home fire extinguisher to help you put out a small fire, you may find that it's of little value if it hasn't been kept in operating condition. Below are some helpful tips to help make sure your fire extinguisher is in proper working order.

White Fire Extinguisher.

Types of Fire Extinguishers

Before you buy or use a fire extinguisher, you should know what types of fires it is made to handle. The U.S. Fire Administration says fire extinguishers are made to combat five types of blazes:

Type Purpose
Class A Ordinary materials
Class B Flammable liquids
Class C Appliance, electrical
Class D Metals
Class K Cooking oils

Some fire extinguishers may be made for more than one type of fire, and they will be labeled as such: "ABC" or "BC," for example.

Monthly Fire Extinguisher Inspection

Even if they haven't expired, home fire extinguishers should be checked each month to help make sure they are ready for use, says the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

The NFPA suggests including the following steps in your inspection:

1. Ensure easy access.

Make sure the extinguisher is in its proper spot, visible and easy to access.

2. Check the seals.

Look over the tamper seal and safety seal to make sure they are intact.

3. Check the pressure.

Many fire extinguishers have a pressure gauge that indicates whether the device is in the proper operating range. If yours has one, check to make sure that the gauge's needle indicates proper pressure. If the fire extinguisher has a test indicator, press it to make sure the pressure reading is within the correct range.

Fire Extinguisher Features Diagram.

4. Look for physical damage.

Visible signs of damage, such as corrosion, leakage or a clogged nozzle, may mean it's time to replace the extinguisher.

Documenting your monthly checks on the extinguisher's inspection tag may help you keep track of its maintenance history.

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Fire extinguishers are often an overlooked part of a home safety plan. Do your checks, know how to use them (your local fire department may be able to provide additional resources) consult professionals when you need them, and be sure your extinguishers are ready for use — just in case.

Need help remembering to check your fire extinguisher? Sign up for Allstate's Maintenance Reminder.

Coverage subject to terms, conditions, and availability. Policy issuance is subject to qualifications. Allstate Insurance Company, Allstate Indemnity Company, Allstate Fire and Casualty Insurance Company, Allstate Property and Casualty Insurance Company, Northbrook, IL. © 2016 Allstate Insurance Company, Northbrook, IL.

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