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  1. #1
    Brad Borden's Avatar
    Brad Borden Guest

    Default Recessed Lighting

    Is it OK to install great stuff expandable foam around and on can lights?
    I asked the owner if he had the manual for the lights and he said he did not. He did say they were special lights that he bought for this application. Look at the picture and see what you think. It does not look right to me. I thought that there should be at least 1" of clearance.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Recessed Lighting

    If they are IC rated, that should be okay, but you would need to check for that.

    Why are the soffit vents all sealed up and that is NOT a sealed attic with the insulation on the underside of the roof sheathing?

    Also, at the upper right of the photo, there is insulation with the paper facing left exposed, another no-no.

    Looks to me to be a DIY screw-up.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  3. #3
    Brad Borden's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recessed Lighting

    Thanks JP for the quick response I knew I would have a response before I made it back home. Yes , a do it yerself job. All you need is a hammer and a pick up truck and your a contractor in S.C.
    I got those other problems as well as others in there. This used to be a large attic space and was converted to a room below. There is a gable and ridge vent installed. Sofit vents are done right on the rest of the attic. This area is only 10'X10'. Do you think it is still OK or should they remove it from the soffit area. The attic is approx. 1400 sq ft. and there is about 12 feet to the ridge. No signs of any moisture (yellow pine).


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Recessed Lighting

    To decide if the attic ventilation is still sufficient, I doubt that it is, you would need to estimate the vent size and the net free vent area (the area not blocked by the screen threads, grid, etc.), the number of the vents, their locations, and the size of the over all attic (which has not been reduced, but the ventilation has been reduced), then do some math.

    Other than than, just based on the fact that usually there *is not* an overabundance of ventilation, and that the attic size *has not* been reduced, but that the ventilation *has been* reduced ... my first thought would be the ventilation is no longer adequate - BUT ... you were on site, you would need to check the stuff in the preceding paragraph to make an educated guess as to if the ventilation is still sufficient to meet at least minimum code.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  5. #5
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recessed Lighting

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    To decide if the attic ventilation is still sufficient, I doubt that it is, you would need to estimate the vent size and the net free vent area (the area not blocked by the screen threads, grid, etc.), the number of the vents, their locations, and the size of the over all attic (which has not been reduced, but the ventilation has been reduced), then do some math.

    Other than than, just based on the fact that usually there *is not* an overabundance of ventilation, and that the attic size *has not* been reduced, but that the ventilation *has been* reduced ... my first thought would be the ventilation is no longer adequate - BUT ... you were on site, you would need to check the stuff in the preceding paragraph to make an educated guess as to if the ventilation is still sufficient to meet at least minimum code.
    JP: The doorbell rang during that episode of HGTV and the builder just missed the part about foaming the rafter cavities. Blame it on the Jehovah's Witness program - or the Girl Scouts.


  6. #6
    Darin Redding's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recessed Lighting

    It is my understanding that IC lights need the small holes in the can to "breathe" or dissipate heat. So blocking these holes is not the best idea.

    I hope the homeowner never needs to replace the fixture


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Recessed Lighting

    Quote Originally Posted by Darin Redding View Post
    It is my understanding that IC lights need the small holes in the can to "breathe" or dissipate heat. So blocking these holes is not the best idea.

    IC rated recessed lights do not need to breathe, and in fact they can be buried in insulation, which would, of course, block any efforts at allowing them to breathe.

    They are made to handle the heat produced by the proper lamps withing them, and "proper lamps" is key to their rating.

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  8. #8
    Darin Redding's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recessed Lighting

    IC rated recessed lights do not need to breathe, and in fact they can be buried in insulation, which would, of course, block any efforts at allowing them to breathe.
    Cooper (HALO) tends to disagree

    IC lights DO need to breathe according to Cooper Lighting. I just got off the phone with them. Expanding foam is NOT allowed to be used on those lights as it prevents air movement.

    This from the horses mouth: while fiberglass insulation as well as cellulose (blown-in) insulation can come into contact with the light, there is still some amount of air movement around the light. Encasing the light in foam insulation is a no-no.

    The MSDS for Dow's Great Stuff (a common supplier of Urethane foam) reads:

    Avoid contact with metals such as aluminum, brass, copper, galvanized
    metals, tin, zinc.

    Aren't can light housings aluminum???

    Last edited by Darin Redding; 05-13-2009 at 11:55 AM.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Recessed Lighting

    Quote Originally Posted by Darin Redding View Post
    Cooper (HALO) tends to disagree

    IC lights DO need to breathe according to Cooper Lighting. I just got off the phone with them. Expanding foam is NOT allowed to be used on those lights as it prevents air movement.
    Somebody there needs to talk to somebody else there.

    http://www.cooperlighting.com/specfi...Tspecsheet.pdf
    "
    The H25ICAT is designed for use in insulated shallow ceiling applications and may be completely covered in insulation. The H25ICAT housing is an AIR-TITE housing and meets Restricted Air Flow requirements.

    "

    This from the horses mouth: while fiberglass insulation as well as cellulose (blown-in) insulation can come into contact with the light, there is still some amount of air movement around the light. Encasing the light in foam insulation is a no-no.
    Then they need to state that in their installation instructions. Until they do, expect it to be, when needed, encased in foam insulation.

    The MSDS for Dow's Great Stuff (a common supplier of Urethane foam) reads:

    Avoid contact with metals such as aluminum, brass, copper, galvanized
    metals, tin, zinc.

    Aren't can light housings aluminum???
    Ummmm ... sure are glade that truss straps are not galvanized metal, that nails are not galvanized metal and have no zinc coating, that electrical boxes are not galvanized metal, that there is no copper around (no plumbing, no electrical, no etc.,), that ... oh, wait ... maybe it could be that Dow's Great Stuff IS NOT USED FOR INSULATING CEILINGS AND ROOFS??? Yeah, I bet that's it.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  10. #10
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    Exclamation Re: Recessed Lighting

    [QUOTE=Brad Borden;82636] All you need is a hammer and a pick up truck and your a contractor in S.C.
    QUOTE]

    That may be the reality in a lot of cases but it is not the law. SC has had a rather stringent law relating to licensure of builders and remodelers for over 40 years. I know it is a lot more difficult to get than when I got mine back in 1979.

    Now, local enforcement is another issue altogether. I can't say how bad things are in Lex. Co. but I know it is a nightmare over in Sumter trying to pull permits and get approvals. Myrtle Beach is goofy, too with the addition of the Coastal Commission requirements.
    ************************************************** ********
    ASHRAE 62.2 calls for ICAT can lights in attics. The IC can is a reduced wattage, low ventilation rate can and a thermal shutoff switch. The Air Tight (AT) can is just that and approved for not only direct contact but can and should be caulked to the ceiling with a UL181-A/B-FX duct sealing mastic.

    FYI, do NOT follow the advice in the IRC where they tell you its ok to construct a box over a non-IC can as long as you maintain a 3" air space. This is dead wrong! These cans require a lateral 3" clearance to insulation and combustibles but you cannot cover over them! Putting a box over them encapsulates the heat and will cause a fire. These cans are intended only for use inside the thermal envelope-not through the envelope.

    There are fire rated ICAT cans available for rated assys.
    HTH,
    Bob

    Keep the fire in the fireplace.

  11. #11
    Joe Asta's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recessed Lighting

    My first post. I thought I would add my 2 cents to this topic.

    According to UL1598:

    10.5.1 A luminaire shall allow for the inspection of branch circuit connections after installation. A luminaire
    weighing 4.54 kg (10 lb) or less, excluding diffusers, light-directing parts, and decorative parts, may be
    removed to provide access to branch circuit connections, without additional access openings.
    10.5.2 An access opening or separate means of luminaire support shall be provided if branch circuit
    connections or internal wiring can be subjected to a force of more than 4.5 kg (10 lb) during installation
    or field inspection. Chain, cable, hinges, or equivalent means of luminaire support shall be capable of
    withstanding the loading test of Clause 16.15.
    10.5.3 Access openings or openings through a supporting strap, cross-bar, or plate may be of any shape
    and shall be:
    (a) a single opening that allows passage of a rod having a diameter of 44.5 mm (1.75 in); or
    (b) two openings, each at least 10 cm2 (1.5 in2) in area, that allow passage of a rod having a

    diameter of 16 mm (0.625 in).

    My 2 cents is that if the fixture is foamed in place, how do you remove the recessed can for inspection?

    I believe that NEC 410.8 requires this also.


    Last edited by Joe Asta; 06-24-2009 at 07:34 AM. Reason: Added NEC

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Recessed Lighting

    Don' like the foam, don't think it should be there, have to agree with Joe, you can't get to the J box to pull new wire or service connections
    On another note, how much money did that DIY spend on foam? Those cans are not cheap.
    I would definitely be concerned about ventilation issues, especially if the space is going to be finished.

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  13. #13
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    Cool Re: Recessed Lighting

    Installation Clearance Requirements for Recessed Luminaries IAEI Magazine Online

    This site has good photos illustrating the issues. You can also google UL 1598 and check out sections IFAH then IEZX. The NEC410 aspect is important because if they make a foam igloo over the fixture it is not accessible for inspection or service.
    Good discussion.
    Bob

    Keep the fire in the fireplace.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Recessed Lighting

    It would be easy enough to dump a pile of loose fill over the recessed fixture housing, then foam over that.

    Now, after the foam as expanded and cured, the recessed housing may still be removed and the connections at the junction box are still accessible.

    Once a fixture is removed, the loose fill insulation would fall out, whoever was removing it would curse a bit, then the recessed fixture would be re-installed without the loose fill insulation above it, making for an air space between the recessed fixture and the foam.

    You can't write something off without knowing about its installation.

    Is using foam over recessed lights a "good idea"? Probably not.

    Is using foam over recessed lights "allowed"? Yes.

    Can an inspector tell if a recessed light with foam over it was properly installed to still remain accessible to the junction box? Not without removing the recessed fixture housing. How many are going to do that? None.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  15. #15
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    Cool Re: Recessed Lighting

    JP, have you ever really dealt with expanding foam installation before? That crap sticks to everything.............except what you want it to. It does not tool like frosting a cake, either. I can see it clinging to tuffs of insulation and falling around while you try to swirl up a beehive only to find gaps and points of no contact with the ceiling, which would largely defeat its purpose.

    FYI, the 2009 IRC now requires the building envelope be caulked and sealed, pass a blower door test to less than 7ACH@50Pa or a visual inspection by an approved third party. Also, Recessed lights must meet ASTM E283 for air leakage.

    The R value must be maintained across the attic regardless of penetrations. The easiest way to do this would be to construct a box of rigid foam of sufficient R value then seal it to the ceiling with a caulk that is easily removed for inspection, such as UL181 duct mastic.

    Side note: the 4x4 wiring boxes on cans cannot be used for junctions with branch wiring unless specifically approved for such. Otherwise, one can, one cable.

    FYI, attic hatches must now be caulked and insulated to meet the attic requirements. The IRC recognizes the use of tight fitting rigid foam boxes over attic hatches and stairs.
    Bob

    Keep the fire in the fireplace.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Recessed Lighting

    Clarification on the can wiring. You can run pipe and wire from can to can, if those cans are being used off the same switch/3 way switches. You can't run additional wires, through the can, for other things like receps.
    I find it difficult to believe that IC includes encapsulation with foam. I would still write it up as a potential problem.

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  17. #17
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    Default Re: Recessed Lighting

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Harper View Post
    JP, have you ever really dealt with expanding foam installation before? That crap sticks to everything.............except what you want it to.
    I have used it, and I know how it stick to everything, which is why I believe dumping a bunch of loose fill insulation over the recessed light would work.

    If you have doubts, use an unfaced R-11 batt, then foam over it to whatever R-value is needed.

    My point was, and is, it can be done.

    My other point was, and is, home inspectors will not know if it was done.

    Side note: the 4x4 wiring boxes on cans cannot be used for junctions with branch wiring unless specifically approved for such. Otherwise, one can, one cable.
    Then can be fed through for other lights as Markus pointed out, but not other circuits.

    FYI, attic hatches must now be caulked and insulated to meet the attic requirements.
    Been that way in the energy code for some time now.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  18. #18
    Joe Asta's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recessed Lighting

    Then can be fed through for other lights as Markus pointed out, but not other circuits.


    Fixtures that are marked for through branch wiring (NEC 410.21) are allowed. The previous mentioned Cooper Halo fixture is so marked.

    Not too often used, however.


  19. #19
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    Default Re: Recessed Lighting

    Sorry to sidetrack, but, "attic hatches insulated .... to meet the attic requirements". How do you determine the attic requirements? As far the insulated hatch goes. Thank you kindly


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