Tuesday, 28 May 2013
How to Clean Up Fire Extinguisher Chemicals
The most versatile fire extinguisher type for home use is probably the dry chemical fire extinguisher, which is recommended for normal fires as well as grease fires and electrical fires. Unfortunately, dry chemical extinguishers come with a downside. When used, a dry chemical extinguisher coats the surrounding area in a layer of chemicals that, while great at smothering fires, make a huge mess and can damage electronic equipment. With these instructions, you can minimize the mess after using a fire extinguisher.
Step 1: Identifying the Chemicals
There are many different kinds of fire extinguishers used in homes, but two kinds will not require special cleanup. If you have a water fire extinguisher or a carbon dioxide fire extinguisher, you do not need to worry about cleaning up afterwords, beyond using a towel on something that can be damaged by water.
Dry chemical extinguishers are the ones known for making a mess. Though they are usually easy to clean up, different chemicals require different methods.
To start out, check to see what chemicals your fire extinguisher contains. You should do this anyway for fire safety reasons, so you know how to use your specific fire extinguisher already when the time comes. Its label or tag should have all of the information you need. Once you know what chemicals you are cleaning up, you are ready to get started.
Step 2: Cleaning
Now that you know what you are up against, you are ready to apply the specific, appropriate techniques.
If you are cleaning up after a halotron fire extinguisher, you are already done. Halotron safely disperses into the air, leaving no mess behind.
If you have used a fire extinguisher containing potassium bicarbonate or sodium bicarbonate, you can simply get your vacuum cleaner and vacuum away the mess. If you cannot vacuum for some reason, or do not own a vacuum cleaner, sweeping the residue away with a broom or a dry cloth will work just fine.
If you use a foam extinguisher, you will need to use lots of water to dilute and wash away the foam. Soak up the excess water with towels or paper towels when you are done.
If you use a mono ammonium phosphate fire extinguisher, you will need to scrub away the residue by hand. It is very important to be thorough, as mono ammonium phosphate can damage sensitive equipment if allowed to remain.
Step 3: Finishing
By this point, you should not have very much of a mess left—none at all if you are lucky. If there is some remaining hard-to-remove residue or smells, you can use these techniques to get rid of them.
If you are having trouble removing a small spot, mix vinegar with water and apply it to your rag. Scrub the spot you are having trouble with vigorously and you should be able to get it out. This is an especially good technique for sodium bicarbonate and potassium bicarbonate.
You can remove any smells left by fire extinguisher chemical residue with any of the common household odor eliminating products.