Well the best way to make any electrical appliance or device safe is to disconnect it---turn off the electricity!
Of course, every appliance, or piece of electrical equipment, is designed to “just sit there” and behave itself, waiting for us to use it. We do not want to have to go to the electrical panel and turn on a circuit breaker in order to recharge our smart phone, fire up our electric toothbrush or find the bathroom for a potty emergency in the middle of the night.
We have come to expect that our electrical equipment will be safe until we want to use it. Fortunately, it generally is. Of course part of the problem is that there are so many ways for it to be unsafe and still “work” and then we end up relying on luck to stay safe.
Luck and electricity should probably never be used in the same sentence. Maybe it is OK if we are talking about surviving being hit by lightning---then being lucky is a good thing.
So knowing that we want to keep things safe, the person that put this guard around a light bulb in a space under the stairs, was either smart enough to know that the bulb needed protection from mechanical damage or that the bulb needed to be protected from coming in contact with stored items that could result in a fire. Or perhaps it was to put there to protect people from coming in contact with the poor wiring to the fixture itself and the installer had no clue about the other things.
All of these components have a UL listing and none of the components is likely installed in a way that meets the requirements of those listings. We must be “lucky” though, because it is doing the intended job of lighting up the space under the stairs.
Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle
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WA State, Home Inspector Advisory Licensing Board