Electrical SOP Question: Removing light bulbs

I have read and re-read the Electrical SOP’s and cannot find specifically that we are required to remove light bulbs from fixtures to inspect the fixture and also to determine if the fixture and wattage of current bulb is compatible.

I recently performed an inspection that had the curly florescent bulbs in the kitchen can lights. The homeowner closed on the house, moved in and hired a remodeler who removed the bulbs in the kitchen fixtures, found some “burn” marks, black spots, in the fixture and determined that the bulbs are incorrect and the fixtures are overheating. I did not remove the bulbs during the inspection. Am i responsible for not reporting the condition of the fixtures, or for not reporting that the bulbs may or may not be compatible…homeowner is looking for some resolve on this.

Any opinions and of course facts, are welcome.

Hi Dianna
If you feel it is worth mentioning it most likely is.
Not a requirement to look inside or research fixture wattage limits or bulb types but as you go you will learn more and may wish to warn people about certain situations as tips in your report and on site.

can lights are a good example where this weekend for instance I found the place covered in can lights and they all had incandescent bulbs in them which in this case will case the reflector shades(plastic) to melt.
Most can lights inside the sleeve warn you to use Par spots rated under 75 watts.

Yesterday my inspection found bare bulb can lights above the shower.(safety hazard).

Forget minimum and just do the best you can and I see you care enough to ask.
Build up a good file system to search as you type and include verbiage plus pictures.

Below is an example…

All trims are suitable for damp locations; only shower trims are listed for wet locations.

can light label location.jpg

can light label location.jpg

Thank you for your advice Bob! I guess this is one more element to add to my inspection process. I pay particular attention to the can lights during the attic inspection, and I do note obvious issues, such as the shower lighting you described and incandescent bulbs in the can lighting. Its always about diligence it seems…

Yeah and Inspectors like us take forever to do reports ,so it is a trade off.

If you are a newer Inspector take 8 hours to do the reports and you will find it a great educational experience as you look up all this stuff and start filing it.
I am fast with info often because of the importance I place on storing files.

Dianna, the TREC SOP certainly doesn’t require you to remove or verify lamp wattages or bulb suitability. If I were a betting person, I’d more suspect a prior improper flood lamp had caused the burn marks and the Seller or someone had subsequently installed fluorescent curly-ques. If the lights worked properly at the time at the time of the inspection then you’ve met your minimum requirements. Now, you may very well want to exceed those standards and you may also want to participate in some retribution but there’s no requirement that you do so, in my opinion.

Hi Mike,
This is the first time that I’ve run across this issue. I agree that it was a pre-existing condition caused by the previous homeowner’s usage of incompatible lamps. Retribution is not in the picture. I’ve come to the conclusion that if you agree to something like that, you assume responsibility of not reporting it, which means that you didn’t perform the inspection to at least minimum standards.

I don’t know if the contractor is advising her to replace all the can light fixtures that are affected. I wonder if that is necessary?

I am going on my 8th year inspecting and have never run across this situation. And I do know what it feels like to spend hours writing a report. :shock:

Exactly. Was there a date on the scorch marks? The marks could be from an improper bilb installed 5 years ago, who knows! I comment if the fixture ‘currently’ has improper style bulbs, or if the scorch marks are obvious and observed.

I would not take the word of a remodeler/contractor/handyman…only a licensed master electrician and then only with a grain of salt.

So my next question, for future inspections, has to do with CFL’s rated specifically for recessed lighting. Aren’t there only certain CFL’s that can be used? If so, what will happen if the wrong CFL is used? Will it create scorching in the fixture?

OK ,just noticed it was your first post so welcome to the club.
Mine take longer all the time as the reward for knowledge is more work it seems.

Now I had to go and see your website.
Texas Association of Real Estate Inspectors, 2010 Inspector of the Year(nice)

Mini florescent would not cause the burn marks

GE states:

So, as long as the bottom is open then I’m sure there are certain CFL’s that will work. Probably not all CFL’s however. I think I shall draft a new “standard comment” to address this :smiley:

I also know, from experience, that some of the “PAR shaped” CFL’s in recessed lights take a very long time to come up to full brightness. I turned the lights on in a Dining Room not long ago and the CFL’s came on at about 20% brightness (almost unusable) and did not reach full brightness for 5-6 minutes.

I’m not sure that the re-modeler is licensed…but am sure that there is NO licensed electrician involved.

I think that I may borrow from you and also draft a new standard comment. Great idea. :wink:

I’ll forward a standard comment draft to you directly later today or tomorrow and maybe we can share ideas.

Sounds good Mike!

I’ve never heard of someone hiring a remodeler to remove light bulbs.

I’d like to see the scorch marks.

The thing about recessed cans is they generally have a thermal cut off when the temperature gets too high. It gets hot, the light goes out. I doubt things unless I can touch, smell, look and play with them.

I would have gone back and looked. I’d never take the word of a remodeler.
I hear the word remodeler (in Texas) and cringe. (Texas does not have any builder or contractor licensing laws or regulations) Can the black marks be wiped off the cans? Are they scorch marks?

Rule of thumb: “All contractors know everything and are licensed in nothing. All contractors do a better job than the last guy. The first guy in always gets snake bit by the last guy in. Your inspector must have missed it but I found it after I disassembled the part, component or system. yada-yada.”

If you went back and looked you could have determined what was going on. It doesn’t sound like there is a current problem and you didn’t say the contractor is claiming the fixtures have to be replaced. If that’s the case a good PR visit would have cleared the air. While there you can mention that you also do remodeling inspections.

Good point Mike. I bet many of you (or your clients) do not know that all bulbs are not created equal. Have you ever actually read the packaging for any kind of bulbs? Many bulbs may only be installed in certain positions. If installed incorrectly, they do not perform properly, and usually have a very short life span. This varies not only with type, but shape and manufactures also. Next time you’re at the HD/Lowes/etc, take a few minutes and browse the light bulb aisle. You may be “enlightened”! :wink:

It may get too hot for the bulb to function properly, but the CFL is not going to get too hot for the fixture. The CFL produces very low thermal output compared to any incandescent bulb, which is why they use less energy (incandescent produces light as a byproduct of heat, i.e., the glowing filament).

I would tell the client that the contractor is full of it (in polite terms) and tell her that she should get her contractor to produce documentation from the fixture manufacturer before paying him to replace ceiling cans because someone installed CFLs in them. I would tell her that we do not remove bulbs from fixtures to compare labeling, unless you are willing to remove every bulb from every fixture and every appliance in every house to verify proper type (you may want to include a disclaimer in your report if you are worried about being called on this).