I’m sure you’ve heard about the various incidents of house fires being caused by unprotected downlights. This is a common issue I come across during my building inspections, regardless of the age of the house, with the ever increasing popularity of halogen globes.

Even though the transformers are low voltage, the globes themselves can heat to very high temperatures. Often the insulation in the roof space moves around over time and comes in contact with either the globe or the transformer (or both) which can easily cause a fire, especially if the house is a few years old and has the blow in paper insulation which was popular a few years ago.Even though this insulation was deemed to be treated with a fire retardant, the retardant has a limited lifespan.Even the timber beams, dust, or rodent nests are known to have caused fires.

The photo below shows the transformer in contact with the light fitting. As you can see from the photo to the right the transformer has significantly melted away.

So how do you protect yourself?The first thing is to ensure all electrical work is carried out by a qualified experienced electrician.As a registered builder with many years’ experience doing pre-purchase building inspections and general building inspections to check the structural building elements of a home, I would always recommend the installation of heat shields to prevent the risk of fire.Depending on the age of the house and the type of insulation installed, it may also be worthwhile considering changing the insulation or light fitting to an LED type.

This would be noted as a Safety Defect by an experienced Home Integrity Registered Building Inspector when doing a Pre-Purchase Building Inspection – Structural, Structural Plus or Structural Premium

The above describes a scenario which has been observed during a particular building inspection by a Home Integrity Registered Building Inspector, however every situation is unique and your circumstances may differ.We would always recommend engagement of an experienced, qualified electrician to provide advice to resolve the issue.

A Home Integrity Registered Building Inspector can also inspect and report on spas and swimming pools including safety barriers, arrange retrospective approvals on all structures by local Council and Shires, inspect and report for insurers to take out Home Owner Warranty Builders Warranty Insurance, Handover and Defects Building Inspection Reports, and Building Consulting.