I've recently had the opportunity to check how up-to-date is Spurtle's last article on stair lighting.

On a stair with 5 luminaires, one of them was flickering and buzzing constantly. I replaced the flickering bulb in this luminaire using a ladder and the keys for (1) the control cabinet and (2) the luminaires themselves, as described in the 2016 article. Around a month later, a different luminaire started to flicker, and so I replaced another bulb. A few weeks after that, another fitting went dead and so again a bulb was replaced. When a fourth luminaire went out about 2 days later, it was clear to me that at some stage in the past, all the bulbs must have been replaced simultaneously. I had replaced 3 bulbs and therefore had 5x2 - 3 = 7 still to go.

Given that the ones still to blow were more awkwardly placed and less easily accessible, it felt like the right time to try out the Council's suggestion of calling in a firm from the Trusted Trader website.

None of the firms listed in the stairwell lighting category had been listed in 2016. I called them all (7 listings). Four gave me a price quote; for 1 there was no reply and no answering machine; 1 I left a message but there was no callback; 1 said he no longer wanted to do stair lighting.

For the remaining 4 contractors, prices for replacing all the bulbs in 5 luminaires ranged from £80 + VAT to £130 + VAT. Two of them said that this included replacing the 'starters'; however, from further research I understand that there is no starter on the standard tenement stair lighting luminaire, the Coughtrie SFB 16, so this may be something of a red herring. One contractor said that his fee included 're-setting the time clock'. Again, I understand that the time-clocks are pre-programmed with the Edinburgh latitude so that they come on at dusk and off at dawn throughout the year without requiring adjustment, so this may not be an essential item. You would probably know if the clock needed adjustment, if the dusk-to-dawn luminaires were visibly out of kilter.

I selected the cheapest contractor, Keith Gunn Electrical at £80 + VAT. There were no apparent problems with replacing the bulbs. The only thing to note was that he doesn't accept cheques and so I was unable to pay him from the stair maintenance bank account which had just been set up (at some trouble). I had to pay by bank transfer (cards also accepted) and then pay myself back from the maintenance account.Caroline Roussot

See also Tenement Hacks – Blocked Drains. If there are other issues you'd like to see covered, tell us at: spurtle@hotmail.co.uk