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  1. #1
    JOHN LAZARUS's Avatar
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    Default leaky down lights

    Any thoughts, ideas, suggestions as to how to seal air leaks around ceiling down lights? The fixtures themselves are new and rated as IC and airtight but the junction between the dry wall and fixture is where all the air infiltration seems to be coming from. Thanks in advance.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: leaky down lights

    Check with the manufacturer for a gasket.
    If you have the brand name and model number from the light, try looking it up on-line rather than HD or Lowe's.

    Jim Luttrall
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    Default Re: leaky down lights

    Quote Originally Posted by JOHN LAZARUS View Post
    but the junction between the dry wall and fixture is where all the air infiltration seems to be coming from.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Luttrall View Post
    Check with the manufacturer for a gasket.
    Many have gaskets which are "supposed to be used", but seldom are.

    Also, *air tight* in relation to recessed light fixtures does not mean "air tight", that just means it was made with "limited/controlled" air leakage.

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  4. #4
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    Default Re: leaky down lights

    Thanks so much for the information. The folks who did the energy audit have suggested fabricating custom foam boxes or covers which would then be foam sealed to the drywall over the light fixtures. Seems like a lot of work especially as you would have to remove all the insulation above the lights in order to get to the dry wall face. Seems like there should be some sort of reasonable alternative. The gasketed trim ring seems straight forward but I didn't realize that "air tight" doesn't mean just that. So maybe some sort of foam cover is the better long term solution. Any thoughts?


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    Default Re: leaky down lights

    Quote Originally Posted by JOHN LAZARUS View Post
    So maybe some sort of foam cover is the better long term solution. Any thoughts?
    I would not enclose the recessed lights in a foam cover or box.

    That will make the lights operate in an environment for which they were not designed, tested, listed, or labeled.

    When compared to "regular" recessed lights, which have slots and openings in the housings for various purposes, the "air tight" recessed lights have very little air leakage.

    Think of it this way:

    Years ago gas caps for auto gas tanks had a hole in them to vent the pressure in the tank to atmosphere, running the engine removes fuel which creates a negative pressure within the tank, parking the car in the sunlight heats the tank creating a positive pressure within the tank. If the tank was not vented, the tank could either implode or explode (more likely just metal fatigue cracking around fittings, welds, etc.).

    Then along came environmental regulations which required that vent to be plugged, no more releasing fuel vapors to the air. That meant a convoluted system had to be designed to capture the vapors when the car was standing still and the engine not operating, and allow the engine to draw those vapors into the engine while running.

    Put a foam box over those recessed, IC rated, air tight recessed lights and you have just "plugged that vent hole in the gas cap", what do you do now to make up for plugging that vent hole?

    Leave the recessed fixtures be, look at the installation instructions and see if a gasket is required, and, if so, install the gaskets, otherwise, let them be.

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    Default Re: leaky down lights

    Recessed Lighting - 6 Inch Air Tight Reflector Cone Trim
    You might look into something like this if your fixture manufacturer offers it.

    NO UGLY BULB GAP ON THIS AIR TIGHT TRIMSAVE MONEY ON YOUR ENERGY BILLS

    Jim Luttrall
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  7. #7
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    Default Re: leaky down lights

    caulk the gap


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    Default Re: leaky down lights

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Pultar View Post
    caulk the gap
    You'd be better off taking some of that 1/8" to 1/4" thick foam self-adhesive weatherstripping and sticking that to the backside of the trim flange, placing the foam side against the ceiling.

    After all, that is basically what those gaskets are: just a flimsy foam ring gasket (which is why so many are torn/damaged/not used).

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  9. #9
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    Default Re: leaky down lights

    I took the suggestion to actually look at the installation instructions (I know-DUH!!!) and I found that integral to the unit is a gasket that is meant to seal against the dry wall from the insulation side. My guess is that when the dry wall was installed it wasn't brought tight to the light fixture - hence the leakage. I like the caulk idea idea and/or the gasket on the trim ring, but I'm of the mind to more than that due to previous revelations that doing anything more allows " the lights to operate in an environment for which they were not designed, tested, listed, or labeled". Thanks to all for the input and Happy Holidays to you and yours!


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    Default Re: leaky down lights

    Quote Originally Posted by JOHN LAZARUS View Post
    I took the suggestion to actually look at the installation instructions (I know-DUH!!!) and I found that integral to the unit is a gasket that is meant to seal against the dry wall from the insulation side. My guess is that when the dry wall was installed it wasn't brought tight to the light fixture - hence the leakage.

    John,

    Based on what your installation instructions say, my guess would be this is what happened:

    The recessed light housings/mounts (depending on how yours were made) were installed with the gasket intact, then, as is normal with new construction, the drywall was installed and a router used to cut out all openings ... and there went the gasket too.

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    Default Re: leaky down lights

    John,

    Home Depot carries an air tight insert for about $6 with an improved gasket. If the gap between drywall and can lip isn't large I would caulk it (maybe hi temp silicone to be safe) or use some backer rod of appropriate diameter. You could always move to CFLs and drop the operating temperature if you're nervous of heat.


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    Default Re: leaky down lights

    Quote Originally Posted by Ross Neag View Post
    If the gap between drywall and can lip isn't large I would caulk it (maybe hi temp silicone to be safe) or use some backer rod of appropriate diameter.
    Ross,

    Have you ever tested backer rod to see how it burns?

    I have not, but if I were to even think that high temperature silicone caulk was needed, I certainly would not put backer rod there - that stuff surely will burn/smoke/char long before regular caulk would. Besides, backer rod is combustible and those recessed light likely should not be placed against combustible material.

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    Default Re: leaky down lights

    And the frayed edge of drywall paper from a rotozip isn't combustible? Granted, most openings are a bit larger then the can diameter, but paper is ignitable. As I said, one could use a lower operating temp bulb to be sure (cfl/led).


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    Default Re: leaky down lights

    Quote Originally Posted by Ross Neag View Post
    And the frayed edge of drywall paper from a rotozip isn't combustible? Granted, most openings are a bit larger then the can diameter, but paper is ignitable.
    Gypsum board is considered (by the NEC) as "non-combustible" in that in combustible surfaces all boxes are required to be flush to the surface or extend beyond the surface, with gypsum board being specifically named as a non-combustible material which allows for boxes to be installed up to 1/4" recessed back from the surface. That exposes the "paper" edges you are concerned with.

    With all of the testing which went behind the above position, I would have to say that there would not be a problem with mounting a recessed light in gypsum board and exposing the "frayed edge of drywall paper" to that heated recessed light housing.

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  15. #15
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    Default Re: leaky down lights

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    I would not enclose the recessed lights in a foam cover or box.

    That will make the lights operate in an environment for which they were not designed, tested, listed, or labeled.
    In cold climates we routinely enclose accessible recessed light fixtures with drywall or other non-combustible boxes foamed in place with 3" clearance all around. Neither the I.C. fixtures that shut themselves off above a certain temperature, nor the older fixtures have been an issue with this approach.

    Take any recessed can you like, install whatever retrofit insert or other measure you like, and blow theatrical smoke at it. There will most likely be smoke in the attic. In cold climates this means warm moist air escaping to a theoretically cool attic. In warm moist climates it means moisture entering a cooled, dehumidified space. In mixed climates you're in trouble either way.

    Recessed lights are a problem anywhere unless they are properly air sealed.


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    Default Re: leaky down lights

    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Voytovich View Post
    In cold climates we routinely enclose accessible recessed light fixtures with drywall or other non-combustible boxes foamed in place with 3" clearance all around. Neither the I.C. fixtures that shut themselves off above a certain temperature, nor the older fixtures have been an issue with this approach.
    The older, non-IC, ones are supposed to be left open on the top. They can be boxed in 3" out around them, but that "box" is required to be left open to ventilate out the heat. That's the reason no insulation is allowed to be placed around or over them.

    Boxing them in AND OVER TOP OF THEM can create a fire hazard.

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  17. #17
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    Default Re: leaky down lights

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post

    Boxing them in AND OVER TOP OF THEM can create a fire hazard.

    It might be helpful for inspectors (especially in cold climates) to be familiar with this document from CANAM Building Envelope. They are internationally recognized experts. http://www.canambuildingenvelope.com...0-1130-rlf.pdf

    Canadian building and energy codes, research, design, and understanding of building envelope performance in cold climates is way ahead of ours.

    I defer to their dimensions for recessed can enclosures, although the 3" standard is common here in Central NY.

    Here's another brief site that really should be required reading for home inspectors: Roofers & Contractors


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    Default Re: leaky down lights

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Boxing them in AND OVER TOP OF THEM can create a fire hazard.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Voytovich View Post
    It might be helpful for inspectors (especially in cold climates) to be familiar with this document from CANAM Building Envelope. They are internationally recognized experts. www.canambuildingenvelope.com/files/pdfs/330-1130-rlf.pdf
    .

    Regardless of what they say to do after-the-fact, the-fact-remains that doing it makes the installation no longer in compliance with the listing and labeling of those recessed fixtures, especially the older ones which are non-IC rated, which then violates the codes.

    Do so at your own risk, is my response - either that or send them a letter to sign where they accept all liability should anything happen as a result of installing those boxes over those recessed fixtures ... 'course, I doubt you will get that letter back signed with them accepting that liability.

    Yes, the older ones are leakers energy-wise, which is the way they were designed, tested, listed, and labeled to operate - all that leakage kept them cool enough to pass their tests. Leaving the required space around the recessed lights and leaving the top open *are minimum conditions*.

    If they told you to shoot yourself in your foot .45, would you? How about if they told you it was okay if you used a .22?

    Just does not make sense, does it?

    Your choice, of course, but I would not recommend doing so to my clients, as that makes me the first name on their attorney's list, with those people at the link being the second name on the list.

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  19. #19
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    Default Re: leaky down lights

    I have to agree with you Jerry. If it is to design,
    code, specifications, rating, or whatever, then I don't want it. I'm just not willing to assume the risk.


  20. #20
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    Default Re: leaky down lights

    If you want to comply with the Model Energy Code then you would follow Section 513.3.4
    for recessed lighting fixtures..#2 When installed in the building envelope, Type non-IC rated recessed lighting fixtures shall... be installed inside a sealed box constructed from a minimum half inch gypsum.... while maintaining half inch from combustibles and 3 inches from insulation...
    This requirement is in force in NJ


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    Default Re: leaky down lights

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Pultar View Post
    If you want to comply with the Model Energy Code then you would follow Section 513.3.4
    for recessed lighting fixtures..#2 When installed in the building envelope, Type non-IC rated recessed lighting fixtures shall... be installed inside a sealed box constructed from a minimum half inch gypsum.... while maintaining half inch from combustibles and 3 inches from insulation...
    This requirement is in force in NJ
    .

    The Local AHJ Can Allow without It.
    .



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    Default Re: leaky down lights

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Pultar View Post
    If you want to comply with the Model Energy Code then you would follow Section 513.3.4
    for recessed lighting fixtures..#2 When installed in the building envelope, Type non-IC rated recessed lighting fixtures shall... be installed inside a sealed box constructed from a minimum half inch gypsum.... while maintaining half inch from combustibles and 3 inches from insulation...
    This requirement is in force in NJ

    First, would you post that entire section wording.

    Second, it does not matter, one code does not allow you to violate another code to meet the other code. That means that, according to the above posted code wording (which is why I asked for the entire section wording) ... simply put: you are *NOT ALLOWED* to use non-IC rated recessed light fixtures in the building thermal envelope. They would be allowed "within" the building thermal envelope as then they would not be in insulation. An example of this would be recessed light fixtures installed in a drop ceiling where the insulation (the thermal envelope) was elsewhere above the drop ceiling - of course, that means that care would need to be taken to make sure that any exposed sides of the insulation did not expose a paper or foil facing into the exposed area (i.e., such that the insulation was installed with the paper or foil facing *not in contact with* the gypsum board ceiling or other approved building material).

    A good example of this would be a highway with a posted speed limit of 40 mph MINIMUM, and you were driving a tractor with a top speed of 30 mph. That does not mean you can drive that tractor on the 40 mph MINIMUM speed highway at 30 mph, that only means you *are not allowed to drive that tractor on that highway*. One does not allow you to violate the other.

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  23. #23
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    Default Re: leaky down lights

    Not to comply with the energy code that is in force at this time as it is written is to not build to it ..Why not build to it .. it is there for a reason..
    I don't presume to understand the testing standards and I really don't care about why , The code in force at this moment ,in this area is all I am applying .
    This is not some section of some code book that I am referencing It's the Uniform Construction Code law.. hardly debatable.


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    Default Re: leaky down lights

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    .

    If they told you to shoot yourself in your foot .45, would you? How about if they told you it was okay if you used a .22?

    Just does not make sense, does it?
    Are you referring to your own remark?

    It's the twenty-first century. Holes in the ceiling are stupid. In cold climates they admit warm, moist air into the attic. This wastes energy and creates the possibility of condensation and mold growth.

    In hot climates you get colder zones around the cooler, conductive light housings and create condensation potential at the ceiling level.

    Recommend whatever it takes to stop those potential problems.

    I'd like to be in the courtroom when the guys in the link are across the table from you, sir.


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    Default Re: leaky down lights

    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Voytovich View Post
    It's the twenty-first century. Holes in the ceiling are stupid.
    .

    To put in non-IC rated recessed lights is ... well, to use your word "stupid".

    I'd like to be in the courtroom when the guys in the link are across the table from you, sir.
    I'd like you to be there too.

    That way they can explain to you, as well as to me and the judge, why they are recommending an installation which is in violation of the listing and labeling of the recessed light fixtures, which is a violation of the code.

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    Default Re: leaky down lights

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Pultar View Post
    Not to comply with the energy code that is in force at this time as it is written
    .

    Richard,

    No one is saying "not to comply with the energy code that is in force at this time", but to install non-IC rated recessed lights in an insulated ceiling is a violation of their listing and of the code itself.

    What is being said, at least by me, is DON'T PUT THOSE FRIGGIN' NON-IC RATED recessed lights in an insulated ceiling.

    AND, if doing a retro-fit, DON'T MAKE THE pre-existing/compliant installation NON-COMPLIANT.

    SOMEONE needs to put their thinking cap on and decide how to best address those retro-fits so as to NOT violate the existing code, and the code under which those lights are in compliance. ONE WAY, of course, and it is so obvious, would be to change out those recessed lighting fixtures. Which, in the grand scheme of things $$$$-wise when undertaking all that retro-fitting, is not a significant additional cost - thus, just do it.

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  27. #27
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    Default Re: leaky down lights

    what is the code section that you are referencing re the cans?
    no need to pontificate just the exact reference


  28. #28
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    Default Re: leaky down lights

    NEC 110.3(B)

    IRC E3303.3

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  29. #29
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    Default Re: leaky down lights

    E is deleted in the UCC ..
    the can is a non insulation contact can . so what?


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    Default Re: leaky down lights

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Pultar View Post
    E is deleted in the UCC ..
    That means you go by the NEC, right? That is the NEC 110.3(B) reference. By the way, they both say the same thing, listed and labeled equipment (electrical equipment, look up the definition of it if you don't know it) SHALL BE installed and used in accordance with its listing and labeling instructions.

    No choice ... SHALL BE ...

    B) Installation and Use. Listed or labeled equipment shall be installed and used in accordance with any instructions included in the listing or labeling.

    the can is a non insulation contact can . so what?
    That means no insulation with 3" of its sides, and no combustible material within 3" of its sides, and no insulation ABOVE IT. Those are required to be able to ventilate the heat out.

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  31. #31
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    Default Re: leaky down lights

    where ya getting that no insulation above it line. I always read it as 3 inch away for insulation and half inch for wood


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    Default Re: leaky down lights

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Pultar View Post
    where ya getting that no insulation above it line.
    In the listing and labeling of the fixtures I've seen.

    And from:

    E3904.9 Recessed luminaire installation. Thermal insulation shall not be installed above a recessed luminaire or within 3 inches (76 mm) of the recessed luminaire’s enclosure, wiring compartment or ballast except where such luminaire is identified for contact with insulation, Type IC.

    410.116 Clearance and Installation.
    - (B) Installation. Thermal insulation shall not be installed above a recessed luminaire or within 75 mm (3 in.) of the recessed luminaire's enclosure, wiring compartment, or ballast unless it is identified for contact with insulation, Type IC.


    Last edited by Jerry Peck; 01-10-2009 at 11:21 PM.
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  33. #33
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    Default Re: leaky down lights

    the sealed box encapsulating the fixture can not have insulation above it .
    the box is to lower the air leakage.
    there is only a code deficiency /problem if the both codes are not followed


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    Default Re: leaky down lights

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Pultar View Post
    the sealed box encapsulating the fixture can not have insulation above it .

    Neither can the box be sealed with a top on it.

    Listing, labeling, MII.

    the box is to lower the air leakage.
    Then use trims *made by the manufacturer of the recessed light fixture* which are made to address that.

    Here we are at post #34 and all you had to do was to have read post #6?

    there is only a code deficiency /problem if the both codes are not followed
    Correct, and following those codes also requires following the listing, labeling and MII.

    No matter what you try, Richard, that still ends up not being code compliant, which is just another way of saying 'that is a violation of the code' ... which way do you prefer to hear it?

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  35. #35
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    Default Re: leaky down lights

    The areas that enforce the Energy code allow the box as a option for compliance.


  36. #36
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    Default Re: leaky down lights

    where ya getting that no insulation above it line.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    In the listing and labeling of the fixtures I've seen.

    And from:

    E3904.9 Recessed luminaire installation. Thermal insulation shall not be installed above a recessed luminaire or within 3 inches (76 mm) of the recessed luminaire’s enclosure, wiring compartment or ballast except where such luminaire is identified for contact with insulation, Type IC.

    410.116 Clearance and Installation.
    - (B) Installation. Thermal insulation shall not be installed above a recessed luminaire or within 75 mm (3 in.) of the recessed luminaire's enclosure, wiring compartment, or ballast unless it is identified for contact with insulation, Type IC.

    Not what I read here!

    IEZX.GuideInfo - Incandescent Recessed Luminaires

    TYPE IC LUMINAIRE
    — Luminaires marked "TYPE IC" may be installed such that insulation and other combustible materials are in contact with, and over the top of, the luminaire. Type IC luminaires are provided with thermal protection to deactivate the lamp should the luminaire be mislamped.



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    Default Re: leaky down lights

    Not what I read here!
    Vern,

    It states right there in that text you quoted:

    except where such luminaire is identified for contact with insulation, Type IC.




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    Default Re: leaky down lights

    Quote Originally Posted by Dom D'Agostino View Post
    Vern,

    It states right there in that text you quoted:
    I must have mis read. I thought he was saying no insulation over IC rated.


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    Default Re: leaky down lights

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Pultar View Post
    The areas that enforce the Energy code allow the box as a option for compliance.
    .

    Richard,

    I'll try to explain it one more time for you.

    As I stated on another post:

    *FIRST* you need to assess if that is *new construction* or *existing construction*.

    *IF* that is "existing construction", then you need to determine whether it was "pre-existing/compliant at time of construction" or "pre-existing/non-compliant at time of construction".

    *IF* "pre-existing/complaint at time of construction", then nothing one does to it is allowed to make it "non-compliant" to the code in effect at the time of construction. Plain and simply *not allowed* to do that.

    Now, if what you want to do will make it non-compliant with the code in effect at the time of construction, then the components (in this case the recessed light fixtures) will need to be included in the overall retro-fit plan to be compliant with the current code.

    In short that means (in the case being discussed):
    - 1) Leave the non-IC rated recessed lights and and DO NOT INSULATED OVER THEM in any way shape or fashion, and do not box them in where they cannot ventilate the heat away.
    - 2) Remove the non-IC rated recessed lights and replace with IC rated recessed lights, making the entire retro-fit meet current code.

    It really is that simple.

    You cannot just willy-nilly try to apply CURRENT CODE to something which is existing and in compliance to the code at the time of construction.

    If you want to "seal up those leaky recessed lights" there are but three choices:
    - 1) Buy "airtight" rated trims from the manufacturer of the existing recessed lights which are made to be used in the existing recessed lights.
    - 2) Remove those leaky recessed lights and replace them with new IC rated recessed lights.
    - 3) Do nothing, forget about sealing up those leaky recessed lights.

    ALL THREE (3) OF THE ABOVE will allow the recessed lights to REMAIN in compliance with the *code in effect at the time of construction* - both the code which covered their installation and the energy code.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  40. #40
    Richard Pultar's Avatar
    Richard Pultar Guest

    Default Re: leaky down lights

    If you rewrite the code for NJ and you get the ICC to change the code book to your interpretation then I would be more than happy to say it is proper. But until that day I,ll just follow the code as it is .
    I just can't stand making references to code issues that might be construed as true regardless of jurisdiction.
    It's like saying heat is required in a basement .If you repeat yourself long enough you might believe what you say.


  41. #41
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    26,248

    Default Re: leaky down lights

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Pultar View Post
    But until that day I,ll just follow the code as it is .
    .

    Good, then you will do as I posted, which is what the code currently says (and basically always has said).

    It's like saying heat is required in a basement .If you repeat yourself long enough you might believe what you say.
    I've got a call in to that person in NJ from last Thursday, he was on the phone so I will be calling him tomorrow.

    By the way, the person I talked to (not Tom, he said Tom would have to answer the question) said that whoever said that heat is not required in a habitable area is wrong. He also added that, if someone called and wanted a 'No.' answer to heat in a basement, all they would have to do is ask if they are required to heat a basement, the answer is 'No.', but once it is made into habitable space, there is no logical reason not to require heat, but, (it came again) Tom would have to answer that.

    Don't start smiling too big yet, the lipstick you are smearing all over it may smear.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

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