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My kitchen has a dozen 4” LED pot lights that were installed by the previous owner. We've been here a couple of years so they aren't new, but aren't exactly old either. Recently a few have started to lose brightness (seems the drivers are going), so I'm replacing them with new ones (same type/brand, just an updated model). When I pulled one out to get a look, an awful lot of insulation came through the hole, and every time I moved the wires more came down. They're IC rated, and the insulation looks like it was just blown in on top of the junction boxes.

My first thought was whether there's some trick I can use to minimize how much insulation I'm going to be cleaning up. I don't think I'll lose so much I need to bring it up into the attic, but still.

My second was whether there's a best practice the original installation should have used that I should try to use now. Should there be a flap of 6mil over where the fixtures/holes are, or is it normal for the insulation to be just sitting on top of the boxes?

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If you have blown-in above, it's generally attic space, no? Attic space to which you should (in theory) have access? Just go up there and scoop as much of the cellulose away from the pot before you remove it, and push it back after you replace.

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  • Thanks. It's accessible to an extent. The kitchen is well away from the access hatch, and the trusses don't leave much room to manoeuvre through them. Certainly possible but not easy. Given that there are 12 lights over a fairly large area, it's probably less effort to just live with however much falls though and vacuum it up.
    – SpycheDad
    Nov 7, 2023 at 17:11
  • But then your pots will be less insulated...
    – Huesmann
    Nov 9, 2023 at 15:51
  • What I have done before is get a couple of 2x12s and cut them in half, to use as "bridges between trusses. Since I have no idea what your trusses look like, yours may or may not be as "maneuverable" as mine.
    – Huesmann
    Nov 9, 2023 at 15:52
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The newer LED fixtures can be covered by insulation. This should be written on the fixture itself. If you cant see it, then perhaps visit a few lighting stores and find the same unit and ask the salesperson if they can be covered.

If they are not designed to be covered by insulation they will get rather hot and may fail prematurely. They dont normally dim, they tend to flicker before dying.

They also start dimming the day they are turned on. From memory after 7 years, the good ones are down by 20-25% of brightness. The cheapos will be worse.

I dont think you can do much about the insulation. What falls down is not going to change the effectiveness of it much. If it is blown means that will cover everything.

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    OP said, "They're IC rated". "IC" means "Insulation Contact", so the OP is well aware that having insulation on the cans/boxes is not an issue. Not sure, really, how this addresses the OP's question of how to deal with the loose insulation falling out of the ceiling when he removes the fixtures - it seems to be focused on the fixtures themselves, for which the OP has already selected replacements.
    – FreeMan
    Nov 7, 2023 at 14:15
  • Yes, already bought the new fixtures, which are IC. The only difference is that the junction boxes are smaller, with push-in connectors instead of wire nuts, and the colour temp is selectable.I was really hoping there was some trick of the trade. I think I've got some leftover 6mil in the garage, so I was thinking of cutting some squares out of that and just shoving them up into the holes when I take out the old boxes. Probably still get some spilling through, but maybe it'll at least keep most of it up there.
    – SpycheDad
    Nov 7, 2023 at 17:21

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