Fire extinguishers should always be available in the home to put out flames quickly. However, after the fire extinguisher has been used, many individuals aren't sure what to do with the empty or half-empty cylinder. According to Earth911, the disposing of used fire extinguishers differs depending on whether the fire extinguisher is empty or not.
Fire Extinguers with Contents
Determine how much content is inside the fire extinguisher by looking at the pressure gauge. The gauge will show you if the unit is overcharged, at the correct pressure or in need of a recharge. Unless the fire extinguisher gauge shows the unit is at the correct pressure, it will need to be refilled or recycled.
Contact your local fire department if the unit is undercharged to find out if the unit can be refilled. Some fire departments also have exchange programs available. Individuals can exchange their used extinguisher for one that is refilled and ready for use.
Contact your community's Department of Public Works to find out when the next Household Hazardous Waste Event is being held so you can dispose of any fire extinguishers that have contents remaining in the cylinder.
Empty Fire Extinguishers
Discharge the fire extinguisher to empty any remaining contents that might be lingering inside the cylinder. Prior to recycling, the fire extinguisher must be completely empty.
Disconnect the head from the cylinder.
Recycle the head and the cylinder at any drop-off site that accepts ferrous metals, such as steel.
Fire extinguishers that are not completely empty are considered hazardous material and should never be thrown in the trash. The contents in the cylinder are under pressure and could cause a dangerous explosion.
If you are unsure where your empty fire extinguisher can be recycled, search for recycling centers in your area at www.Earth911.com. The website has a search feature that allows you to find drop-off locations by city, state or zip code.
If the pressure gauge on your fire extinguisher shows that the unit is overcharged, consult the owner's manual for advice or call your local fire department to determine if it is still usable.
Lynn Burbeck is a professional writer with over five years of experience writing for the Web. She has published numerous articles for print and online media including "Grit" Magazine. Burbeck holds a B.A. in journalism and political science.