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Community and Q&A

Recessed lights/speaker caps

user-884554 | Posted in Energy Efficiency and Durability on

The family that lived in my house previous to mine were music lovers. As a result, they installed two 8″ ceiling speakers in every room of the house, including the baths! Now, in addition to the 26 chimneys commonly called recessed lights that penetrate my ceilings, I also have 24 chimneys that produce music while they leak!
In my efforts to create simple and cost effective ways of capping the speakers, I purchased some 10″ sonotube and cut it into 6″ pieces. I capped each piece with HD foam, sealed the seam at the cap, slipped them over the speaker and foamed them in place. Probably have less that $1.25 in each one.
Question: Could the same approach be taken with the recessed lights provided that a 3″ clearance in maintained around sides and top of the can? Cans are IC rated, but obviously not airtite. Sonotubes are available in several diameters, so finding them to fit 4″ and 6″ cans is easy. This is far simpler than fabricating some form of box that has to be sealed at all sides, and far less expensive than commercially available can light “hats”.

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  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    Insulation contractors have been using pieces of cardboard Sonotubes to insulate recessed can lights for a long time. Bill Hulstrunk mentioned the practice when I interviewed him for my March 2011 article, "How to Install Cellulose Insulation":

    "The regular IC lights are really leaky, so if that’s what we’re dealing with, we need an airtight enclosure around the light anyway. Instead of building a box, a lot of installers are using a large Sonotube. You cut a length of the Sonotube and foam it to the ceiling below. Then you make a top out of sheetrock and foam the top in place. Once you’ve done that, you can cover the whole thing with cellulose."

  2. user-884554 | | #2

    Martin, Thanks, nice to know I am on a track previously used. As a follow up question, and please excuse my lack of entirely proper construction lingo....but there are several of my recessed lights that can't be properly addressed as they are beneath what appear to be "stringers". By that I mean that there are some 2 x 6 boards nailed on top of and running perpendicular to my ceiling joists. It appears that these may have been used to keep the ceiling joists aligned during construction. From what I can see, they provide no other function from what I just described. Can these boards be cut to allow access to the can lights in your opinion? I could actually run another 2 x 6 in parallel and then remove the original if that is a better idea. I have found this condition in at least 2 areas of my attic, affecting about a half dozen of the lights. I guess its a good thing the cans are IC rated as the top of the cans are within an inch or so of these boards. By the way, the ceiling joists are 2 x 8 and span across 18'.

  3. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #3

    The 2x6s you describe were probably installed in lieu of blocking. If you plan on removing some of them -- and I see no reason not to -- it would probably be safest to install a parallel 2x4 or 2x6 near where you remove the existing 2x6.

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