Care & maintenance for lamps and lighting
Taking care of your lamps and lighting might seem at first to be just another of those household chores that is not too important and therefore becomes one of the things that over time gets neglected. This most definitely should not be the case. And when we say care it does not just mean a quick flick with a duster once a week or so, although obviously keeping your fittings clean is one of the ways to make sure that they are in good working order.
Most appliances whether they be wall lights, ceiling lights or table lamps, will benefit from a good clean with warm soapy water or a soft damp cloth occasionally, but always take care and NEVER immerse electrical fittings in water and ALWAYS unplug from the mains. There will generally be manufacturers cleaning instructions on all appliances. Lamp shades and covers will also need to be cleaned regularly and those that cannot be washed can be carefully hoovered using the soft brush attachment or dusted with a soft cloth.
When you consider that probably all the lamp and light fittings that you have around your home are electrical then perhaps it might be more obvious why it is extremely important to maintain them in good working order. Cleanliness is all well and good, but if perhaps you have a frayed cable or a loose connection then the consequences could be a lot more serious than a simple layer of dust.
It is good practice from a safety point of view to inspect your light fittings on a regular basis. This does not mean every time you clean you have to thoroughly examine them, but it does make sense to carry out a quick visual check whilst you dust. Things like faulty wiring can be very serious indeed and if you are in any doubt always unplug your fitting before you take a closer look.
Periodically it is wise to give your light fittings a detailed examination just to make sure that they are in tip top condition and indeed it is recommended by the electrical council that all electrical appliances, and that includes light fittings, should be tested by a qualified electrician regularly (depending on circumstances it is usually every 3 to 5 years).
When carrying out your visual check look for any brown discolouration or scorch marks, as this will indicate an overheating problem, also any cracking or splitting or other damage. If you notice anything unusual do not use the item until it has been repaired or if repair is not possible, replaced.
Another thing to check regularly is the condition of the light bulbs that you are using. It is very important to use the correct strength light bulb for the fitting that you have otherwise there may be a risk of fire or heat damage to the appliance. This is also true of the lamp shades that you have, they need to comply with manufacturers guidelines with regard to the type of shade that can be used on certain light bulbs and light fittings. The wrong shade or light bulb being used can again create a fire hazard due to the heat being generated by the light bulb whilst in use.
Trailing leads, flex or cables can be a problem with light fittings that you need to place in an area of the home that has no electrical outlet socket, and this can create a tripping hazard if not properly carried out. Always use a rug or carpet to cover the lead and check regularly that it is securely in place.
Where you place your lamps, especially floor standing lamps, is something to consider also. Never place a lamp in an area of high footfall where it can be easily knocked over or damaged. Table lamps too must always be carefully positioned and never placed too close to an edge where they might be in the way. Remember that electricity and water don't mix, and therefore lamps should never be placed near water. If you have a high output light bulb take care not to place your lamp too close to curtains or flammable materials as excessive heat can build up over time and increase the risk of accidental fire.
If you have animals then it is wise to check that they have not damaged wiring by chewing through cables or pulling on wires.
When using lamps in children's room ensure there is no risk of accidental injury, tiny fingers can easily be burnt by hot light bulbs.