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

By
Home Inspector with Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC 3380-000723

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.

 

 

Posted by

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


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Re-Blogged 1 time:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Jack O'Neal 01/30/2014 12:48 AM
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Rainmaker
592,740
Than Maynard
Coldwell Banker Heart of Oklahoma - Purcell, OK
Broker - Licensed to List & Sell - 405-990-8862

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.

Jan 29, 2014 11:20 PM #14
Ambassador
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Jason Crouch
Austin Texas Homes, LLC - Austin, TX
Broker - Austin Texas Real Estate (512-796-7653)

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

Jan 29, 2014 11:29 PM #15
Rainmaker
1,901,206
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

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.

Jan 29, 2014 11:36 PM #16
Rainmaker
145,491
Laura Foreman
Referral Maker Real Estate CRM - Carlsbad, CA
Copywriter, Buffini & Company

Great post, Jay! Good to know!

Jan 30, 2014 12:51 AM #17
Ambassador
2,352,494
Fred Griffin, on leave of absence from ActiveRain
Fred Griffin Real Estate - Tallahassee, FL
Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker

     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! 

Jan 30, 2014 01:06 AM #18
Rainer
74,880
Brian Clinger
Coldwell Banker AJS Schmidt - Cascade, MI
Brian Clinger ABR, GRI, CRS, SRES

Learned something new today.  Thank you Jay.

Jan 30, 2014 01:19 AM #19
Rainmaker
1,844,065
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

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.

Jan 30, 2014 03:01 AM #20
Rainmaker
1,844,065
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

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!

 

Jan 30, 2014 03:04 AM #21
Rainmaker
1,844,065
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

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

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

Jan 30, 2014 03:05 AM #22
Rainer
103,107
Rosie Moore
Serving Sugar Land, Richmond, Rosenberg, Missouri City - Sugar Land, TX

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

Jan 30, 2014 03:14 AM #23
Rainmaker
1,844,065
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

If they are going into the ceiling Rosie!

Jan 30, 2014 03:15 AM #24
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Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

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.

Jan 30, 2014 03:45 AM #25
Rainmaker
1,844,065
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

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?

Jan 30, 2014 05:59 AM #26
Rainer
211,341
Jack O'Neal
HomeSmart Elite Group - Gilbert, AZ

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!

Jan 30, 2014 06:56 AM #27
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Joe Pryor
The Virtual Real Estate Team - Oklahoma City, OK
REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties

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.

Jan 30, 2014 07:10 AM #28
Rainmaker
1,844,065
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

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.

Jan 30, 2014 08:49 AM #29
Rainer
220,151
Suzanne Otto
Six Twenty Designs - Lansdale, PA
Your Montgomery County PA home stager

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.

Jan 30, 2014 09:50 AM #30
Rainmaker
1,844,065
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

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.

Jan 30, 2014 05:39 PM #31
Rainmaker
446,986
Scott Seaton Jr. Bourbonnais Kankakee IL Home Inspector
SLS Home Inspections-Bradley Bourbonnais Kankakee Manteno - Bourbonnais, IL
The Home Inspector With a Heart!

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?

Jan 30, 2014 08:10 PM #32
Rainmaker
1,844,065
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

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

Jan 30, 2014 08:14 PM #33
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Jay Markanich

Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
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