I recently had to deal with a little water damage from a leak in the second floor bathroom. The ceiling appears to be dried out after a few days of pushing air through it and the only real water damage occured around the edge of a recessed can light fixture just like this one

The problem is that while removing that can light to get to the water the wet drywall around the hole crumbled away. Now the hole is too big for the can light. The flange around the edge of the fixture that should press against the ceiling almost fits right through.

What is the right way to go about fixing this? Cut away a larger square of drywall, replace it and re-cut the hole for the can light? Is there something easier that doesn't involve taking out more of the ceiling?

I know I could just get larger bezels and hide it but I'd rather not replace all the bezels in the room. Plus the light doesn't fit very securely any more.

Light fixture in ceiling after water damage

3 Answers 3


There are two issues: support and cosmetics.

For the support, you could remove the can, insert thin, long pieces of wood (something like a paint stirrer) in the space above the lip of the can, overlapping the newly opened area. I would put in two strips, opposite each other.

I would hold them in place by putting screws upward through the solid area of drywall, one on each end. This should give more body to hold the can in place after filling the gaps.

For cosmetics (and some support around the new strips) I would use a hardening spackle (not taping compound or a lightweight filler) to fill below these new strips and build up the edge around the hole. Then, after drying, sand the whole thing smooth before inserting the can.


You might just use an oversize LED recessed lighting adapter, if the ceiling is structurally sound and the existing can and fixture are not corroded. Pick a suitable color temperature: 2,700 -3,000 K is a "warm", reddish-yellow, 4,000 K and higher lamps have a bluish cast.

In my house, I've replaced a few fixtures that way for efficiency.


The easiest repair, may in fact be, to go ahead and just knock out a bigger hole, patch it, and cut a new one.

Piece working, close to fixtures that rely on the drywall for support, never ends well, and usually looks worse, if it doesn't fall back out; landing on something important... something like this, really needs to be secured properly.

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