INSULATING OVER HIGH HAT OR RECESSED LIGHTS

QUESTION FROM ROBERT  from Lancaster, Texas:

My house has recessed lighting fixtures. Each light has a steel metal covering that protrudes from ceiling level(where its flush to the cieling inside the house) up into the attic. All sockets connect INSIDE of these little metal housings. Blown in insulation would cover these metal housings completely.

Question is, since this stuff is is fire retardent, would it be pretty much ok to just simply blow over these fixtures with insulation?

 ANSWER FROM THE INSULATION DOCTOR:
 
Hello Mr. Horn,
With high hat lights (also called recessed lights) any housing or recessed fixture that is in direct contact with thermal insulation must carry an IC (Insulated Ceiling) rating. This makes IC the choice for the ceiling on the top floor of the home, which is typically blanketed with thermal insulation. Where insulation is used in other areas, IC kits should be used as well. Non-IC rated housings can be used away from insulation, in the first floor, basement, and most commercial applications. 

In regard to your high hat lights, the electrical connection is only part of your concern.  As stated above, there are two types of high hat lights.  To determine what type you have, remove the bulb from one of yours and you should be able to see the "IC rating" on the fixture itself.  If you cannot find the IC rating there, you can go in the attic and look at the fixture and it will be written on the fixture.  (If it is not an approved fixture, it will normally say not to cover it or to maintain the insulation 3" to 4" away from the it.) 

If you insulate over a high hat light that is not approved to have the insulation over it, you will be in danger of causing a fire.  The tell tale sign of insulating over a non-approved fixture is the light turning off or flickering.  Do you know how old the fixture is and was it installed when the house was bulit?  Most fixtures installed in the past 10 years are IC approved, but not all.

There are fixtures on the market that are designed to be installed between the floors and not in an attic that cannot be insulated over.  This is what you have to be careful of. 

Hope this helps.

Bruce Jones
The Insulation Doctor