Recessed lights covered with insulation

Inspected a home with tons of recessed lights in each room - living room, dining room, each of 5 bedrooms… in the attic, they are all pretty much covered with batts of fiberglass insulation. I couldn’t see any label or indication in the fixture or outside if they were rated for insulation. Anyone have an idea on these? I uncovered this but there is no label on it or around it…

What year was the home built

2004 - 3000sq ft town home

The label should be on the inside of the can.

The label is inside the can, should have the rating for “IC” or whatever.

My opinion is that if you cannot determine that it’s IC rated, as configured, you should state in the report that “The inspector could not determine if the fixtures are IC rated…”

I agree with Chuck…either that or you may need to open every fixture to verify that they are all Insulation Contact units…IMHO…YMMV.

See, I was hoping one of you guys would reply, “Oh, I’ve worked with that same fixture…of course it’s IC-rated, you dumba$$” or something like that! I am going it note it in the report. The one I pictured had no label on the outside of the can at all. I was able to get to the bulb, and unscrewed the bulb, thinking a label should be inside as well, but there was none there. All the lights were on for a while when I was in the attic, and I touched this unit, it was not hot to the touch, and none of the insulation was discolored, so I assume (I hate that word) that it insulated and IC rated… but I will disclaim it as well. Thanks everyone!

I agree, perfect answer. In general do HI’s usually check fixtures like this for IC or non-IC rating? As Larry stated would you need to check every one?

I always check to make sure insulation is not covering it. It usually isn’t. In this case, a full batt was laid right across the top of the can, so as I looked through the attic, I noticed that every one was the same. That;s when I decided to determine if it was rated for IC or not.

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My standard boilerplate in those situations:
Investigate, Possible Safety Issue: The recessed light fixtures (often referred to as “pot lights”) that are installed in an insulated ceiling may present a fire hazard if they are not suitably rated for this application. A qualified electrician should be engaged to verify the safety of the system. Location: LOC.

For The Record: Conventional recessed lighting fixtures operate very hot and can overheat when enclosed with insulation. However, there are some models that are rated for use with insulated ceilings. These models usually have a double shell and are marked with the letters IC on the label (for “insulated ceiling”). Because we are unable to access the label within the fixture, we cannot determine what the proper installation criteria and ventilation requirements are. Generally speaking, when conventional recessed light fixtures are used in an insulated ceiling, cardboard or plastic retainers should be installed to keep the insulation away from the unprotected lights, and proper bulbs installed to reduce the risk of overheating and fire. 0607

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You’re in Florida.
It “should” be insulation contact rated from the 2001 FBC.
But since you went past the norm by removing insulation & being curious (not that you’re bad) & no label observed you have to say something.

Although it’s probably not true 100% of the time you may be able to get an idea if the fixture is IC rated by the location of the thermal overload (TO). On an IC fixture the thermal overload will be on the inside of the can. On non-IC fixtures the TO will often be on the junction box of the fixture. In the photo from the OP there is no TO visible on the junction box of the fixture. When an non-IC fixture is covered with insulation they will usually blink when they heat up.


Good to know - thanks

Actually, this one was only half-covered. Someone had already moved the batt of insulation… I was pretty sure of the FBC as well. Thanks.

I did. Some are obviously and clearly labeled non-IC rated, Newer ones are universally IC rated. But the convertible type may or may not be, depending on what bezel is installed in the can. I didn’t disassemble them to check so I used the above verbiage. Most had CFL or LED bulbs in them anyway, which mitigates the issue, though does not change the rating of the fixture.

BTW: changing to LED bulbs is the easiest way to address overloaded dimmer switches, which we often encountered with potlights.

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Interesting, I’ve purchased a few homes and have had a few home inspections and the inspector never checked the recessed lights. :frowning_face:

Home inspections are not a commodity purchase. There should be obvious differences between a 1-a-day and a 3-a-day inspector.

The only difference between a Progress P87 IC and non-IC was whether a sticker had been removed from the top of the housing and which trim and bulb was used.

With these fixtures you should be looking at it two different ways. For energy conservation these lights should be covered, but if non-IC type a special shroud or cover will be needed to “keep insulation a minimum of 3 inches from the fixture and in a manner to not entrap heat” (best to still keep them open at the top if non-IC). IMO, There are potential problems with these recessed lights whether they be IC or Non-IC rated. IC rated lights still require you to install rated bulbs (there is normally a list of the type and wattage so they will not overheat)

Yes they (both IC and non-IC types) do have thermal switches to protect from overheating but have been known to fail. IC types Can still be a fire hazard if people do something stupid like put in a larger bulb than specified.

A big problem is when a homeowner notices that the non-IC types are $15 less than the IC-Type (and they have no idea what IC stands for, they install a dangerous fixture in the family home and we are not going to be able to see their screw-up 95% of the time.

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