Light up my life (without breaking the ceiling)
October 13, 2020 6:09 PM   Subscribe

We just bought a house! But most of the bulbs in the recessed ceiling lights have blown, and I can't for the life of me figure out how to change them. Can you help us to escape from eternal twilight?

They're pretty standard recessed lights (pic here) that sit flush with the ceiling.

I can get my fingertips under the housing and pull them down about an inch, which exposes some sort of nesting tube that runs up into the ceiling, plus some metal struts holding the housing inside the tube (pic here).

When I try to pull it further the struts catch on the tube and start to pull it down in a way that feels like it's going to bring the ceiling with it — dust crumbling off, etc. I assume there must be some way to unclip the struts but I haven't been able to figure it out; there's very little give and my efforts to jiggle or twist or push-and-pull aren't achieving anything. Added difficulty: it's a high ceiling so I don't have much leverage or scope for experimentation while tottering at the top of a stepladder.

I'm guessing there's some sort of special technique that'll make these pop out relatively easily. Does anyone know what it is? Or does anyone recognize the brand of lamp so that I can try to do further research? If it matters, they were installed sometime after the late 1990s.

Thanks so much! :)
posted by Yo Soy La Morsa to Home & Garden (4 answers total)
Have you tried unscrewing the bezel around the bulb itself?
posted by jon1270 at 6:18 PM on October 13 [1 favorite]

The trim (the part you can see) is seperate from the Pot (the bit in the ceiling). There are often sharp barbs on the shiny strip in your second picture that grip onto the pot. Pushing inwards on the shiny strip with your fingers while pulling down can help free the barbs.

Sometimes however there are actual hooks on the end of the shiny strip (like this). In which case you have to pull down, push in on the strips and move up slightly, twist a bit so the strips don't get hung up again in the pot holes and then pull down.

PS: I wouldn't just change the bulbs like for like as you can buy retrofit LED trims or bulbs for about 3X the bulb cost that will last essentially infinitely longer.
posted by Mitheral at 6:28 PM on October 13

Have you tried just pulling the bulb straight out? Could possibly be a halogen bulb with two straight pins rather than a threaded end. I don’t think the bezel or the light fixture needs to be removed.
posted by gnutron at 6:53 PM on October 13

Those bulbs are held captive by a lip on the front of the gymbal; access to change them is from the back so you have to pull the trim down to change the bulb.

Some pictures of a 3" trim I have hanging around In the last pic you can see the lip that retains the bulb in the gymbal. Ignore the trim mounting, it uses a completely different mount than yours.
posted by Mitheral at 7:14 PM on October 13 [1 favorite]

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