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So, What's Above The Canister Lights? Are They Insulation Compatible?

When I see this,  canister lights in the ceiling of an upstairs room, I have two thoughts:

So, what's above the canister lights?  Are they insulation compatible?

Relevant questions both.

These may not be brand new light fixtures, but they are not very old either.

And if they are not insulation compatible, meaning they have an IC sticker that says insulation can be safely placed over them, they need special care so that their heat can dissipate.

Well, this is what's over them!

I couldn't tell exactly what it is. 

It looked like insulation had been removed from a bunch of paper vapor retarder edges and it all was thrown on top of the lights.

It's a very odd arrangement.

So, are the lights insulation compatible?

I don't know!

Where are the lights?

Well, here are a couple of them - they're under there somewhere!

Is it hot?  Yes, the hottest spots are 187F.

The lights had not been on for very long.  They are on a dimmer switch, which I turned up all the way to see what happened.

Are the fixtures insulation compatible? 

I don't know!

Would I do this in my house or recommend that someone do it?

No.  Unless I knew it was safe.  A box nearby stating the brand of light fixture, or a sign that says they are insulation compatible would have been comforting.

My recommendation:  even things done by professionals can be poorly thought out.  It could be that these fixtures are safe as they are installed.  But there is no guarantee unless you can see the IC sticker on the canister.  I never assume.  But I do observe and report.

 

 

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 33 commentsJay Markanich • January 30 2014 02:41AM

Comments

Good morning, Jay.... I love recessed lights...I must have 50 of them in my house....all installed by my electrician and he explained to me exactly what you stated.....

Posted by Barbara Todaro, Marketing Agent for The Todaro Team (RE/MAX Executive Realty ) over 6 years ago

That's because he is a good boy Barbara.  Spending a lot of money on clothing Miss Skinny?  I almost missed you in that new avatar.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

Hey who cares as long as they look good from down below, right?  There hasn't been any overheating or a fire yet ;)

Posted by Joshua Frederick, Home Inspector in Defiance & all of Northwest Ohio (Home Inspector for ASPEC Residential Services, LLC) over 6 years ago

Morning Jay I do like that type of lighting.  Never gave it any consideration but now I will

 

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty) over 6 years ago

The prevailing attitude Josh.  Even by some electricians!

James - if people would read the box they would also be informed!  Most don't...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

Good morning, Jay. Thankfully, most of the newer cans are thermally protected. I still suggest putting paper collars around can lights. Better be safe than sorry...

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) over 6 years ago

I don't know what materials are best Michael, but that the heat needs to dissipate if there is no sticker.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

Jay, great post and something I never thought about. I promise you one thing when I buy my next home I will pay you what ever you charge to come to NC to inspect it for me.

Posted by Tom Bailey (Margaret Rudd & Associates Inc.) over 6 years ago

Jay, of course you know that if you take the bulb out you should be able to see the IC sticker inside the can---assuming of course they didn't paint it out when they sprayed the ceiling :)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 6 years ago

Yes to this post and subject matter...I have had contact with the canister lighting and if not done properly can do some harm over time

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) over 6 years ago

Hi Jay,

A non combustible barrier is needed for the lights if the light is not listed as a zero Clarence product.

Only the zero Clarence lights are permitted to be in direct contact with the insulation.

Have a good day in Bristow my friend.

Best, Clint McKie

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) over 6 years ago

Good morning Jay,

It seems we are seeing more and more fire hazards in home building; that is why we need a reputable inspector.

Make yourself a great day.

Posted by Raymond E. Camp, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson Greater Rochester (Howard Hanna Real Estate Services) over 6 years ago

Gosh - you're always finding such scary stuff, Jay!! thanks for sharing!

Posted by Jill Saddler, Draper Utah Real Estate Professional - 25 years+! over 6 years ago

When I was building at first you had to put a 'box' around can lights leaving an inch or so of space. Then you could put insulation up against, but not over the can light. Now you can cover them completely.

Posted by Than Maynard, Broker - Licensed to List & Sell - 405-990-8862 (Coldwell Banker Heart of Oklahoma) over 6 years ago

Yikes! That looks pretty darn dangerous. I didn't know the "IC" part. Thanks for teaching me something new today.

Posted by Jason Crouch, Broker - Austin Texas Real Estate (512-796-7653) (Austin Texas Homes, LLC) over 6 years ago

Jay - I am glad you wrote this.  I really don't think people are asking those questions and do the electricians know.  I will be extra careful next time I am involved with lighting.

Posted by Grant Schneider, Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes (Performance Development Strategies) over 6 years ago

Great post, Jay! Good to know!

Posted by Laura Foreman, Copywriter, Buffini & Company (Referral Maker Real Estate CRM) over 6 years ago

     I saw this recently in an attic.  Old canister lights without IC stickers that were surrounded by blown-in insulation.  The grace of God that the place had not burned down! 

Posted by Fred Griffin Tallahassee Real Estate, Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker (Fred Griffin Real Estate) over 6 years ago

Learned something new today.  Thank you Jay.

Posted by Brian Clinger, Brian Clinger ABR, GRI, CRS, SRES (Coldwell Banker AJS Schmidt) over 6 years ago

Tom - it would not be an "official" inspection.  NC has home inspector licensing laws.

Charlie - years ago I went to remove a light bulb and the glass portion broke off in my hands.  I had a devil of a time getting the little base out of the socket.  Since then, yo no toucho lightso.  Perfect Spanish.

Richie - and the unknown is how much time it takes!

Right Clint.  Said above.

Raymond - this was home remodeling.  But same difference.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

Jill - not terribly frightening, but yes, it is.  The bat up there was more so... he was agitated!

That's still the case Than, unless the IC sticker is there.

Jason - IC, UC, we all C, for IC.

Grant - most people don't pay attention to instructions either!  The instructions are clear for whatever light fixture you buy.

Thanks Laura.  Glad you stopped by!

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

Fred - insulation can spread heat.  Not a good thing!

And I'm glad you did Brian!  Sock it away in the bank.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

Thanks for sharing this informative post on IC lights.  I will be looking for that IC sticker when I purchase lights for my home.

Posted by Rosie Moore (Serving Sugar Land, Richmond, Rosenberg, Missouri City) over 6 years ago

If they are going into the ceiling Rosie!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

Jay, I hate those "failed under test" moments :)  Sometimes you get lucky and can see around the bulb---other times you just have to recommend someone "verify." And of course the ATIC cans are the best if you have to have them.  I don't like them anywhere in insulated ceilings.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 6 years ago

There's also a sticker on the top side too Charlie, as you know.  And the box will say.  In this case if there was a box face that said what lights had been installed there would be no problem.  If there is doubt, then there is doubt.  Who would think to put something up there that says the fixture is compatible?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

Jay, thanks for sharing this info on IC lights! Very helpful! Always look for the IC sticker and yes pros can make mistakes from time to time. Nobody's perfect!

Posted by Jack O'Neal (HomeSmart Elite Group) over 6 years ago

I have homeowners insurance but I don't want to use it. My opinion is if this was an inspection with a contract I had with either the buyer or seller I would tell them that I don't know is not acceptable. I don't know needs to be turned into I am sure and that would require starting over with what we know, new fixtures.

Posted by Joe Pryor, REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties (The Virtual Real Estate Team) over 6 years ago

If that's a pro Jack, we are in trouble!  My eighth grade shop teacher would have given me a D for that, only because I tried.

These fixtures would have been fine Joe, had they been installed safely.  They may still be if they are IC rated, but I'm not going to take stuff apart during an inspection just to see.  The sellers will have to show that I think.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

Can you say fire hazard? I have one recessed light in the house but it's on the first floor. Now I know for future reference.

Posted by Suzanne Otto, Your Montgomery County PA home stager (Six Twenty Designs) over 6 years ago

That's heat in that thermal image Suzanne.  Those aren't the lights.  Yours is in a safe location where there likely isn't insulation.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

Good post as always Jay. What a mess it would be just to get a good look at those. And is that snow? or stuffed insulation?

Posted by Scott Seaton Jr. Bourbonnais Kankakee IL Home Inspector, The Home Inspector With a Heart! (SLS Home Inspections-Bradley Bourbonnais Kankakee Manteno) over 6 years ago

It's pretty hot Scott.  The white is blown-in fiberglass puffs, R-value 2.2 per inch.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

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