Insulation covering can lights

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  #1  
Old 07-15-04, 08:47 AM
magymac
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Question Insulation covering can lights

Hi, This might not belong in the electrical section but wasn't sure who to ask. I just moved into a new Modular home in January. I have a cape stlye home that came with an unfinished attic. This morning while crawling in the eaves attempting to insulate the knee walls, I saw some wire protruding up through the blown insulation and decided to follow it. As I dug into the insulation, a steam or smoky vapor started to rise. I then realized that some of the insulation was scortched and had a smokey smell. It appears that this was caused by the tops of the can lights on the kitchen ceiling. There are two that I can access and two that are buried under the flooring. Should insulation be burying these lights or should they be opened up and seperated from the insulation in some way? Please advise me before I get much further with finishing the attic. Thank you.
 
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Old 07-15-04, 09:02 AM
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It depends on the lights. Some are rated so that insulation can be close to (or even touching) them, while others need a minimum separation from insulation.

It sounds like yours fit in the latter category. From the inside and from the outside look for a label speaking to this and possibly also to the maximum bulb wattage.

Also, move the insulation out of the way ASAP until you know for sure what you are dealing with.
 
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Old 07-15-04, 09:10 AM
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Look for the letters "IC" somewhere on the can. That stands for insulation contact. If it doesn't say IC, then it should not have insulation contact. There are different ways to keep the insulation away. Sometimes you'll see a little cylinder made out of roll insulation looped around the can. The best bet might be to replace them with IC cans so that you can both keep the insulation away and not have a heat leak in your ceiling.
 
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Old 07-15-04, 09:24 AM
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What you describe is a real fire hazard, and should be fixed immediately.

You can have the fixtures replaced with 'ic' rated fixtures, which are designed and rated to be right up against insulation. But with ordinary recessed fixtures you need to keep the insulation away from the fixtures, to allow air flow and cooling.

You should also double check that the lamps in the fixtures do not exceed the rated values for the fixtures. Many fixtures are limited to 60 or 75W bulbs. When people put 100W bulbs in these fixtures, it can result in overheating.

-Jon
 
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Old 07-18-04, 05:21 PM
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The IC rating for fixtures means that they are sealed to prevent air leakage. When warm air leaks from the fixture in direct contact with insulation, it can condense in the cooler attic space, wetting the insulaiton and ruining its insulating value. The insulation in contact with any of these fixures must be non-combustible. Cellulose insulation has been chemically treated to help it be non-combustible, but by nature it is. I would only put fiberglass insulation arround these fixtures. Also, as Winnie says, make sure that the bulbs in the fixtures are of the correct size. Oversizing the bulbs is a fire hazzard.
 
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Old 07-18-04, 08:52 PM
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Actually, not all IC fixtures are air tight. A certification of "air tight" is made on top of the IC certification for some fixtures. I'm not aware of all the design details that make an IC fixture get the "IC" rating, but air tight is not a necessary requirement.
 
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Old 07-18-04, 09:52 PM
Rlfrazee
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If you have scorched insulation and smoke of some kind rising I dont think they will be rated IC, if they are then still would be insane to let them smoke. Personnally I'd get the insulation at least 3" away from these fixtures or replace them......RL
 
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Old 07-20-04, 01:37 PM
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I did a little research on the web and found out that IC fixtures are usually a "double can" design with an air space arround the fixture. John you were correct with the "air tight" designation also. I stand corrected. Bottom line, your insulation should not be smoking. If you leave it that way, the rest of your house will be smoking soon!
 
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