help removing recessed light fixture

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Old 03-02-10, 07:52 AM
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help removing recessed light fixture

I've recently discovered that I have 4 recessed lights in the ceiling that are not IC-rated, yet are covered with R-30 fiberglass insulation in the attic (which I'm almost certain was installed by a previous homeowner who didn't know what they were doing). The paper facing is still on the insulation, and there are dark circles in the paper where they contact the backs of the lighting fixtures, indicating that they are getting pretty hot (thankfully not hot enough to catch fire). So I need to replace these fixtures with IC-rated fixtures.

The problem is that on two of the fixtures, the tabs at the ends of the hanger rails have been stapled to the joists, and then small furring strips have been attached to the insides of the joists (flush with the bottoms, against the drywall ceiling) and they are covering the tabs on the rails. To further complicate matters, I believe that the ceiling drywall is screwed to these furring strips. Thus, in order to get the existing fixtures out, I need to remove the furring strips to get at the staples in the tabs on the rails, but i can't remove the furring strips because the ceiling is attached to them.

I've considered just cutting the rails flush with the furring strips and leaving the old tabs in there, and just attaching the rails on the new fixture to the furring strips instead of the joists. However, the rails are pretty thick, enough that I think a pair of tin snips would get mangled trying to cut through them. My dad suggested a pair of bolt cutters... haven't tried yet, but it might work.

Any other suggestions on how to get these two fixtures out so they can be replaced and I can actually use the lights (I'm paranoid now and don't want to use the lights for fear of fire hazard)?
 
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Old 03-02-10, 08:13 AM
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Fast way is Sawzall. Slower but more careful way to cut them is a Dremil tool. Or leave in place and build a box around them to keep the insulation away.
 
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Old 03-02-10, 08:43 AM
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I thought about a sawzall but don't have one, and I'm not terribly confident I could do it without accidentally damaging the ceiling (since the rails are flush against the drywall, not hanging from the top of the joists). I didn't think about a Dremel, though... I have a Craftsman-branded Dremel equivalent, although I'm not sure i have an attachment that could cut through the metal rails. I'd imagine a Dremel-branded attachment would probably fit in the craftsman tool OK? I'd rather not have to go out to Sears, since Lowe's is right next door :-)

That being said, I had also thought about building the boxes and given that I'd prefer to spend as little time in the attic as possible I might be further ahead to just do that. Granted then I have to horse around with cutting holes in the boxes for the electrical wires coming to and from each fixture and sealing up those holes, but I could do the bulk of the work building the box in the basement and just hop up in the attic, place each box, cut the insulation to fit around the boxes, and get out of there.

I'm assuming the boxes would need to be drywalled for fire safety; any concerns about the boxes (5 sides of drywall plus light wooden frame) being too heavy to just be sitting on the top side of the ceiling without being supported by the joists at all?
 
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Old 03-02-10, 07:45 PM
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If you choose to go with boxes, they should be 4 sided and not 5 sided. The 5 sided would totally enclose the fixture and hold the heat in. What you want is 4 sided just to hold the insulation away and allow the heat to rise into the attic. If the insulation is all batts, all you really need to do is cut away the insulation from around the recessed cans. A box wouldn't be needed. If you have blown fibreglas insulation, perhaps chicken wire can be fabricated around the cans to keep the insulation away. Think about this. IF you can cut the hanger bars, maybe you could use IC rated remodeler cans that fit the existing openings in the ceiling.

One last idea. Could you start using self ballasted CFL lamps rather than incandescent? Much less heat and energy savers too.
 
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Old 03-02-10, 08:31 PM
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another option is to buy the new IC rated high hats and just replace the center section and electrical box section. The center part of any high hat is removable from the ring and mounting brackets. 2 screws hold it on place and it will slide right out. then you could just replace it with the new IC rated ones and you dont have to worry about cutting or removing the old mounting brackets..
 
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Old 03-02-10, 10:53 PM
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If you DO remove the existing brackets iv got a tip for you ...its a wonderful tool called a HACKSAW lol... it should do the job well for you..

the last idea with changing just the fixtures looks like your best bet tho

The CFLs could be used as a temporary fix assuming you don't have a dimmer.. but the danger in this is any person could put in a incandescent bulb.
 
 

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