Published on December 17th, 2012 | by Henri


Recessed lights in a cathedral ceiling

Q.    A few years ago, I added a one-story family room to my house. The  room has a peaked ceiling with recessed incandescent ceiling lights. The  ceiling is insulated with fiberglass. There is a roof vent and vents in  the soffits. The problem is that a lot of cold air comes out of the  recessed lights in the winter. Is there anything I can do about this?

A.    It is always a mistake to have recessed ceiling lights (also called  can lights) in a cathedral ceiling. There is not enough depth in the rafters to accommodate as much insulation as can be put in and still allow for a venting space. Unless a can light is UL-listed as IC (for  “insulated ceiling”), no insulation should be closer than three inches from it; this leaves very cold spots. Your problem is that there is little or no insulation above the recessed lights. Why don’t you have them removed, have insulation put in the spaces and a plastic vapor retarder taped over the holes, and then replace the can lights with surface-mounted fixtures.

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