Pot Light Problems: How To Fix Fire And Moisture Issues With Recessed Lighting

Posted on: 3 June 2015

Recessed lighting – or "pot lights," as they're commonly called – lend a sleek, modern atmosphere to any room. These lights are popular in both retail and home situations, but they can also bring some significant safety and efficiency problems with them. If you are planning to install pot lights or have old fixtures already in place, these tips can help reduce the fire hazards and energy drain inherent with some types of pot lights.

Addressing the insulation conundrum

Insulated attics are the easiest and most common spot to put the housings for recessed lighting. The problem is that electrical housing shouldn't have insulation around it because it is a fire hazard. Without insulation, you lose a lot of energy from the house below and dump too much heat into your attic, potentially allowing ice dams to form on the roof during cold weather.

Use wire mesh to create a barrier cage around each recessed light. Most lights require at least several inches of open space around each fixture. Check with a qualified electrical contractor or home safety specialist to determine the best distance for your particular lights. Alternatively, the lights can be replaced with "insulation contact" fixtures, which can be safely placed in an attic with a full cover of insulation.

Dealing with moisture problems

The heating and cooling inherent with recessed lighting encourages condensation. Inside an attic, this could lead to mold in the surrounding insulation and building materials, as well as dripping into the ceiling and room below. Good insulation will help deal with some of this. If possible, talk to your electrical contractor about replacing troublesome old fixtures with newer "airtight" designs. These fixtures allow less heat to enter the attic space and have less airflow, so moisture has less opportunity to collect, and less energy is lost through the fixture.

Dialing down the heat

It's a lot easier to keep the heat under control with lighting types that produce very little excess heat – namely, LEDs. LED lights are not only the most efficient type of artificial lighting as of 2015, they are also exceptionally well-suited for pot lights. Most bulbs are directional, so you don't waste energy by shining light up into the recessed fixture. Because they give off almost no heat, they also present a much smaller issue when it comes to dealing with moisture and insulation.

Heat lamps or "sun lamps" are often used in recessed lights, and the heat is part of the appeal. With these, use them for short periods of time and make sure to always turn them off when you're finished with them.

Once recessed lights are relatively airtight and fire safe, they are considered an efficient and convenient form of lighting. While consultations and replacements are an appreciable investment, they can save you significant amounts of energy and home maintenance over the life of the fixture.

For more information, contact Electrical Contracting at McCaine Electric Ltd. or a similar company.