Downlights can be dangerous, are you sure yours are safe?
In modern buildings standards are in place to delay the spread of flames in the event of a fire. One particular standard applies to the ceiling of a building. The ceiling is considered one of the most important fire barriers, slowing the spread of the fire from floor to floor. When installing down-lights care must be taken to ensure the fire rating is maintained.
Safety Standards state that a ceiling should be constructed from plasterboard that has a fire rating of at least 30 minutes for a fire to burn through… older and poorly fitted downlighters can compromise these safety methods.
When older and poorly fitted downlighters were installed into a ceiling they would have created a hole in the plasterboard, this provides an edge and a weakness for a fire to take hold more quickly and enables fire to pass into the roof void and spread further throughout your home,
The difference between down-lighters installed today and ones that were installed pre 2005? Safety!
Most down-lights purchased today have built in fire protection, be careful though many large DIY stores still sell non fire rated fittings, these fittings would require a Fire/Smoke hood to be fitted in order for them to comply with building regulations.
The Building regulations state that any residential building with a top floor height of up to 18Mabove the ground should have ceilings that are fire resistant for up to 60 minutes while residential buildings that have a top floor up to 30m should have ceilings of fire resistance for up to 90 minutes, because of these regulations, down-lighters installed today must be appropriately rated for the building they are fitted to.
Fire rate downlighters contain a material that expands when it reaches a certain temperature and seals of to hole to slow down the spread of fire, this in turn gives people more time to escape. Most off the shelf fire rated down-lighters today give you a 90 minute protection in the event of fire.
So are your down-lighters safe? If you are still in doubt, contact a qualified electrician or give me a call I would love to hear from you and would be happy to advise.