Fire Extinguisher Safety Zone, Super-Useful Website and Handy Vacuum Tool

By Mary Hunt

March 7, 2017 4 min read

What do fire extinguishers, hard-to-find phone numbers and handy dandy cleaning tools have in common? Nothing other than the fact that three messages involving these topics recently showed up in my inbox!

Dear Mary: Your recent column on fire extinguishers and the P.A.S.S. system got me thinking about my home fire extinguisher. Like yours, I realized that mine has been there so long that it blends in with the decor, which prompted my questions. Do fire extinguishers expire? How can I know whether it's still good? When should I replace it? — Janine

Dear Janine: Fire extinguishers do not have an infinite life span. They expire. A typical portable extinguisher that has not been opened remains in good condition for five to 15 years. But you don't have to guess or wonder whether it's fully charged and ready to go. Look for the pressure gauge on the extinguisher itself. Make sure the needle is in the green zone. That indicates it is still good. Once that needle moves into the red zone, it should be replaced or recharged. (Small extinguishers for home use are often single-use products that cannot be recharged.)

During a recharge, the extinguisher service company will completely refill the extinguisher and check to make sure it is holding proper pressure. This process should take 10 to 20 minutes and can often be done at local fire stations or through private service companies. Keep in mind that it may be more cost-effective to purchase a new extinguisher if the one you have is for household use. By the time the recharge is done, it could be the same price as a new one, if not more.

Dear Mary: I have followed your column for years, first in the newspaper and then online. Your advice is invaluable, and I am grateful for your tips, your common-sense outlook and your generous spirit. Please continue this column. What you do is unique.

I recently bought this vacuum hose adapter and was very pleased to find that it was extremely handy and sturdy enough for real work. I've finally been able to reach inside my dryer, up to my bathroom ceiling fan and in other nooks and crannies that have always proved a headache to clean. I used the adapter with your beloved Shark vacuum. I'm pretty sure you and other Shark fans will discover that the VaccuFlex vacuum attachment is a worthy tool able to tackle the most difficult corners and crevices. — Robin

Dear Robin: Another great find! When I got your message, I ordered this VaccuFlex vacuum attachment kit online so I could test it myself. With Amazon Prime shipping, I got it the next day. My clothes dryer has never been so clean. I couldn't believe all the lint I pulled out of the area behind the lint trap. Now I am thinking about so many other places this is going to come in handy. Thanks a million!

For more info on the links in this column, visit

Mary invites questions, comments and tips at [email protected], or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of, a personal finance member website and the author of "Debt-Proof Living," released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at

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