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How To Remove Old Recessed Light Housing

Recessed light

Whether you are removing old recessed light housings from a house built in the last ten years or a house built in the last twenty years, the process is still the same for home improvements. This might seem like a great do-it-yourself project. However, the equipment, ladder size, and patience might not be available to you. How to remove old recessed light housing? Turn off the power, remove the trim, remove the bulb, remove the can and disconnect the electrical.

Let’s take a look below at the step-by-step process and determine how easy or difficult this project might be.

What Is Recessed Lighting

Recessed light fixtures are a way to create a more aesthetically pleasing look within your home. The main idea is for recessed lighting to create extra illumination for larger opened areas of your home. These lights are known as can lights, pot lights, or even hat lights. In some cases, these lights can increase your electric bill. Of course, the type of LED light bulbs used in recessed lighting can keep your electric bills lower.

Unscrew the lightbulb when the housing is cool to the touch.

How Do I Replace The Old With New

If you need to remove and replace old recessed light cans or housing units can be a tough task if you do not have the proper equipment. Anytime you are dealing with electrical work and using a tall ladder to get access consider calling on a professionally licensed electrician. If you decide to complete this project on your own, here are the necessary steps for success.

  1. Prepare the old cans – simply put, gather all of your materials and equipment and make sure that the power is turned off to your lights. Using an electrical tester can verify that your breaker is off.
  2. Remove the trim – screw-in and spring loaded trim located inside the housing. When cool to the touch, unscrew the lightbulb. They use your screwdriver to either undo the screws or gently push against the spring loaded portion of the trim.
  3. Remove the can – use your flat head screw driver to push up against each of the four black strips. This allows the housing to release from its locked position. Slowly remove the housing as the wires are still attached.
  4. Cautiously care for the wires – carefully disconnect the wires from the old housing. Use electrical tape to tape off the wires until you decide to replace the old housing with a new one. Also, tape off the breaker in your breaker box so that it isn’t turned back on. If you are deciding to not replace the housing canister then make sure the electrical wires are safely removed.
  5. Replace the old can with a new can – you might also decide to repair the hole with sheetrock and patch work. Hiring a professional is an option here as well.

How Much Does It Cost

Depending on how many recessed lights you will need to replace can determine how much you will pay. Electricians charge based on the hourly rate and can cost you $90 to $110 per hour. The average cost to replace a recessed lighting canister or housing is a range of $250 to $400.

Other Recommended Maintenance

While you are learning about how to change out recessed lighting housings, this would be a great time to learn about how to change a light bulb in a high ceiling. Although recessed lighting can be installed in any room of the home, it is typically found in higher ceilings. Once you replace the old recessed lighting housings you will need to replace the lightbulbs.

IC rated lighting

Next, you might want to understand if the recessed lighting that you are swapping out is IC-rated. Making sure that the canister or housing is insulated properly and IC-rated is important before installation. Review the manufacturer paperwork on the new recessed lighting housings. If they aren’t IC-rated, then you should consider returning them for ones that are.

Lastly, if you start to smell something foul when you are replacing your old recessed lighting housing units anything is possible. There is a chance that you are smelling a dead mouse. Your home could have a pest control issue and you might not otherwise know this until smelling it.

After you have finished your recessed lighting project, you wonder how to get rid of a dead mouse smell. Make sure to reach out to your local pest control company. They can provide you with some ideas to help.

When Do I Call On A Professional

When dealing with a combination of electricity and having to stand on a ladder these topics can be daunting. Most homeowners will opt to call on a local professionally licensed electrician. Making sure that replacing old recessed lighting housings safely and correctly is enough reason to call on the licensed electrician. Do-it-yourself project upgrades can often be fun to complete. However, always err on the side of caution when dealing with electricity.

Before attempting to replace your old recessed lighting housings, consider reaching out to your local home inspection team. Having a home inspection completed is a great idea. The home inspection might find some electrical issues that you can have taken care of at the same time as your new recessed lighting goes in. Get peace of mind that your electrical set-up is in good working condition and a reputable professionally licensed electrician referral.


Asking a homeowner to get excited about climbing a ladder to change out old recessed lighting housing units is probably a silly question. In most cases, homeowners, do not have the proper equipment or patience to complete this project. Call on your local home inspection team to make sure that your electrical wiring and breaker box situation is in great working condition. You will want to make sure that these areas of your electrical system are in good standing as you swap out your old recessed lighting housing units. Call on Honor Services for your Home Inspection in Brevard County, FL.

Michelle Shishilla

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