Dear Mr. Electrician: How do I remove recessed lights so I can install surface-mounted light fixtures?
Answer: Photos below are from a job where I was able to remove recessed lights and replaced them with four LED disk lights in their place. I had to first patch the holes before I could install the new lights.
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REMOVE RECESSED LIGHTS
In this instance the recessed lights to be removed were the remodel type cans which made it much easier to take out. It was just a matter of removing the trim and light bulb and then loosen the clips that hold the can to the ceiling.
If the recessed lights were installed during the original construction it would have been more work to remove the rough-in housings. I would have had to remove the four screws that hold the can in place and let it drop down below the ceiling.
Through the ceiling opening I would be able to access the junction box for the light and disconnect the wiring.
After that it is a matter of prying and cutting the recessed light rough-in housing out of the ceiling. I use tools such as a mini pry bar, Knipex high leverage diagonal pliers, BX cutters, and aviation snips to cut the old housing out of the ceiling.
Ceiling fan braces were used because they were easiest to install using the existing hole.
I inserted two small pieces of wood above the ceiling and held them in place with drywall screws. (See top photo) The wood is used to provide a backing for the drywall rings and to screw them in place.
I used my RotoZip with the circle cutting attachment and made five rings (One extra) from a piece of drywall.
The cut drywall rings were a good fit in the holes left from the removed recessed lights.
I buttered the hole and the edges of the cut drywall ring with joint compound and pushed it into place. I used my fingers to smear the joint compound so it would blend a little with the textured ceiling.
The joint compound dried nicely around the ceiling fan electrical box.
A plastic round remodel electrical box for ceilings is usually not rated for supporting a ceiling light. However at least one manufacturer has a fan rated plastic round box for new work or remodeling.
Check in the catalog on the manufacturer’s website to confirm what the ceiling electrical box is rated for.
The LED disk light was big enough to cover the hole patch. The ceiling was going to be painted after I finished.
Click to see my blog post about installing recessed lighting in a condominium kitchen.
A side mount ceiling fan box may be what you need. Click here to read my blog post about them.
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