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Handle A Broken CFL Bulb With Care

It is very important to handle a broken CFL bulb with care.

Yes, it contains mercury.  Not a lot, but the mercury is in powder form which is a very dangerous form, especially if inhaled.  But if you breath in the powder, how much is a dangerous too much?  Nobody seems to want to touch that one.

So is breaking one bulb dangerous? 

Well, why risk it? 

As to the one in the photo, this is complicated by the fact that hanging this way the interior wiring is exposed to the touch.

So double your danger, double your fun!

How did this bulb break?

Likely by someone trying to screw it in the same way an incandescent bulb is screwed in - by holding the glass.

A CFL bulb should always be held by the base when installing or removing.  That is the only part of the assembly that has any integrity.

WHEN INSTALLING, NEVER HOLD A CFL BULB BY THE GLASS!

That is different from the incandescents we all grew up with.  But you can see why.  It might break!

And on top of that, this one still lights up!  So the installer, after breaking it, may have pulled the string, found out it still lights, and left it there anyway!  Why not!  It still works!  Wonderful.

My recommendation:  if a CFL bulb breaks away from the base when you are screwing it in, don't leave it there!  It's broken!   Even if it still lights up - it's broken!  And obviously, if the bulb breaks, run for the nearest exit, call 911 and Hazmat, curl up in a fetal position in the front yard, suck your thumb, and wait for help to arrive!  Really.

 

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 32 commentsJay Markanich • November 21 2015 01:53AM

Comments

I wasn't aware of that.  I hate those bulbs and try to avoid them like the plague.  Now, I have another reason.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) over 4 years ago

Good morning Jay! A little common sense can go a long way! Enjoy your day!

Posted by Wayne Martin, Real Estate Broker - Retired (Wayne M Martin) over 4 years ago

Those things really stick out, it's pretty easy to bump into it when walking by... not that there's a bunch of traffic up there!

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) over 4 years ago

Jay- I really cannot stand those bulbs. We had a few when they came out but have replaced them all with LED's.  

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) over 4 years ago

Everything has to be handled properly, Debbie.

Wayne - so I've heard!  And a short way sometimes when selling a house.

Fred - who knows how it was broken, but twisting it improperly is the most common.

Kathy - I think they are the scourge of mankind.  Along with Molly bolts.  But that is just me.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

 

                             Thanks Jay Markanich for my Ah-ha moment. 

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) over 4 years ago

Thanks Kathy!  Hold'em by the base!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Jay- thank you for the heads up - yet another bit of knowledge I did not know! 

Posted by Lise Howe, Assoc. Broker in DC, MD, VA and attorney in DC (Keller Williams Capital Properties) over 4 years ago

Good morning Jay Markanich ,

I am so glad I saw this in Kathy Streib 's post this morning on her "Ah-ha" moments for the week! I do not like these bulbs and now I know for sure why we don't use them!

Posted by Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR, Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate (Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.750.6899) over 4 years ago

Well Jay, that is pretty scarey and I am really surprised...I think I will consider replacing all of mine now with the old bulbs or LEDs!

Posted by Ginny Gorman, Homes for Sale in Southern RI and beyond (RI Real Estate Services ~ 401-529-7849~ RI Waterfront Real Estate) over 4 years ago

Lise - hence my post!

Dorie - you know, you don't have to go to Kathy's post to see mine!

Ginny - are you in your front yard?  Is it cold out there?  Full disclosure - when "they" decided I should not use incandescents anymore and would phase them out, I went and bought a boatload.  I have enough for a lifetime.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Good morning Jay,

They do not seem to last as long as the old and there is a bag in the truck somewhere to drop off at Home Depot.

Make yourself a great day.

Posted by Raymond E. Camp, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson Greater Rochester (Howard Hanna Real Estate Services) over 4 years ago

And from there hopefully they send them back to China, Raymond.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

I hate these CFL bulbs, myself, and did not know this about them. Thanks for letting me learn something new today (as I do each day in the Rain).

Posted by Nina Hollander, Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor (Coldwell Banker Realty) over 4 years ago

Good morning Jay and excellent advice here. I miss the old bulbs efficient or not.

Posted by Sheila Anderson, The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133 (Referral Group Incorporated) over 4 years ago

Great post...I can see why Kathy highlighted it this week.  Glad I didnt miss it!

Posted by Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®, Giving Back With Each Home Sold! (RE/MAX Realty Center ) over 4 years ago

In addition - I've seen video clips of those bulbs suddenly catching fire. I haven't managed to get rid of every one in my house, but they'll all be gone soon. 

Posted by Marte Cliff, Your real estate writer (Marte Cliff Copywriting) over 4 years ago

I hate these bulbs so I don't have them in the home.  I think I still might have a few outside.  Will be very careful to remove them by the base.

Posted by Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA (Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA) over 4 years ago

Interesting post as always. I knew this though. I had a light bulb blow on me once, ouch.

Posted by Karen Fiddler, Broker/Owner, Orange County & Lake Arrowhead, CA (949)510-2395 (Karen Parsons-Fiddler, Broker 949-510-2395) over 4 years ago

And I'm glad you did Nina!

Like I said above, Sheila, I bought a boat load of them a while ago.

Kristin - I know a way so that you don't miss any of my posts...

I hadn't heard that one Marte, but I am not at all surprised.  They are almost exclusively made in China.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Chris Ann - run for the front yard, and so as suggested at the end of the post.  Photo please.

Thanks Karen.  And that does sound like an ouch!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

The CFL bulb is like a Timex - it takes a licking and keeps on ticking.

Posted by Pat Starnes-Front Gate Realty, 601-991-2900 Office; 601-278-4513 Cell (Front Gate Real Estate) over 4 years ago

Pat - when I was a kid my Timex had radium for the numbers and hour hands, which was radioactive!  The CFLs can be more dangerous than that though.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Skipping CFL's and going straight to LED.  Low power consumption, cool to the touch and no mercury.

Posted by Stephen Weakley (Nationwide Mortgage Services) over 4 years ago

We have a great household hazardous waste recycling center here in Gilbert that residents can take things like old electronics and burned out CFL bulbs to be properly disposed of. 

Posted by Nicole Doty - Gilbert Real Estate Expert, Broker/Owner of Zion Realty ZionRealtyAZ.com (Zion Realty) over 4 years ago

I try to avoid those like the plague!  I've heard that the coating inside the glass is fragile and if the bulb is jostled even a little bit the coating comes off and cancer causing radiation is leaked to your home.  Luckily, all these bulbs are made in China and I'm sure no jostling occurred on the boat over here, the docks, the trucking to the store and the stocking on the shelf or the drive home!

 

I stick with LED bulbs.  Slightly pricier but no hazmat.

Posted by Ryan Huggins - Thousand Oaks, CA, Residential Real Estate and Investment Properties (https://HugginsHomes.com) over 4 years ago

I learned this when I dropped a CFL bulb and it broke; I googled how to dispose of it, and it's a very specific protocol.  Not one to mess around with, as you pointed out!

Posted by Maureen Bray Portland OR Home Stager ~ Room Solutions Staging, "Staging Consultations that Sell Portland Homes" (Room Solutions Staging, Portland OR) over 4 years ago

Stephen - the LED prices are coming down.  Maybe one day we can afford the bulbs!

What Nicole?  You don't just stamp on them out there?

Ryan - there is no radiation, but the mercury is bad enough!  Hopefully Chinese drywall didn't fall on any of their special bulbs...

Maureen - what, you didn't run to the front yard and do as I directed?  Yes, there is a specific protocol, for a reason.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Thank you for the information. I have not used CFL bulbs and will not use them.

Posted by Gita Bantwal, REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel (RE/MAX Centre Realtors) over 4 years ago

You are in the wise and small minority, Gita!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Another sales boost for LED bulbs Jay Markanich.   At least you can hold them when installing them. 

Posted by DEANNA EARLY - - ( NMLS # 268590 ), Highest Ranked Mortgage Loan Originator Virginia (American National Bank & Trust) over 4 years ago

Agreed Deanna.  And incandescents!  I bought a boat load of incandescents a couple of years ago.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

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