How to Remove a 4 Inch Recessed Light

Recessed lights are a type of ceiling fixture that sits flush with the ceiling and projects light downward.

They can be installed in new construction or as an addition to existing ceilings, but they require several components for installation. In this blog post, we will discuss how to remove a 4 inch recessed light.


Summary: Removing a 4-inch recessed light can be a straightforward process if you follow the necessary steps and use the proper tools. Before you begin, ensure that you have a ladder or step stool, a flathead screwdriver, a pair of pliers, and a non-contact voltage tester. It is critical to prioritize safety, so turn off the power at the circuit breaker to the area where the recessed light is located, and use the non-contact voltage tester to confirm that there is no electricity running to the light.

To start the removal process, first, climb the ladder or step stool to access the recessed light, and gently pull down the trim of the light fixture to expose the inner components. Detach the trim from the housing by releasing any springs or clips that hold it in place. Once the trim is removed, carefully unscrew the light bulb and set it aside. Next, locate the recessed light housing and identify any screws or clips securing it to the ceiling.

Use the flathead screwdriver or pliers to loosen and remove these fasteners. Carefully lower the housing, taking note of any electrical connections. Disconnect the wires by unscrewing the wire nuts and separating the wires, ensuring that they don’t touch each other. Once the wires are disconnected, you can fully remove the recessed light housing from the ceiling.

What Tools You’ll Need?

  • A screwdriver (flathead)
  • A rivet gun (optional)
  • 3-5 screws,

What You Have To Know Before You Start?

The recessed lights are attached to an electrical box at home. The ceiling is drilled with two holes, one for the light fixture and another for the wire connected to the house’s power source.

A paper-covered thick wire attaches through a hole in the wall to the light. When removed, it should be detached before the existing light fixture is removed.

The recessed light contains two other holes on its sides, called knockouts. These should be unscrewed with a screwdriver and covered with tape to prevent debris from entering the box when drilling for new wiring.

Types of Recessed Lights

There are two types of recessed light Non-IC (insulated conductor) and IC (insulated cable). Non-IC is recognized by its thick wires, while IC has thin wires housed in a plastic cover.


If the fixture is an IC one, it needs to be replaced with an identical unit. If the new unit does not come with wires, they should be replaced with the existing ones. The color order of cables should always be black, white, and bare copper.

Steps to Follow: How To Remove a 4 Inch Recessed Light 

Step 1: Unplug the recessed light.

For safety purposes, always unplug your recessed light before attempting to remove it. If you do not, the glass shattering and cutting yourself or someone else nearby is a possibility.

Step 2: Put on protective gear.

Wear protective eyewear and gloves to protect yourself from any broken glass and dust.

Step 3: Remove the trim ring.

Holding the light in one hand, use your other hand to remove the trim ring. Next, gently pull up on the recessed light until it snaps free of any wires holding it in place. Once loose, lift it out of where it was installed and set aside.


Step 4: Clean installation area.

Use a lint-free towel to clean the area where the recessed light was installed. You can also use a vacuum cleaner to remove any dust or debris accumulated during the removal process.

Step 5: Install new light.

If you are installing a new recessed light, hold it in place and make sure it fits.

Once you are ready to continue the installation, use your hands to tighten the set-screw on the recessed light until it is secure.  If you are not installing a new recessed light, continue to the next step.

Step 6: Put the trim ring back into place.

Gently place the trim ring back into its original position and push down until it snaps in place. It should fit snugly around the recessed light.

You may need to use your hands to tighten the trim ring further if it doesn’t look right when you’re done.

Things to Consider When Removing Recessed Light

1) Outlets – Make sure the power is off for this room. Find out if there are any other outlets around it you need to be concerned with.

2) Cover Plate – Make sure you know where the cover plate is located before you start messing with the drywall. This makes it easier to put back later on, especially if it’s a pain in the arse to find out where it goes.

3) Electrical Wires – These are extremely dangerous. It’s good to know that they’re not hot, but the fact that you’re dealing with electricity makes them dangerous regardless of temperature.


4) Ceiling – Drywall is annoying. If you don’t want to spend a lot of time putting drywall back up, later on, make sure to cut away enough so that you don’t have to deal with this headache afterwards.

5) Existing Light – Make sure you know where any existing lights are in the room. This will make installing new recessed lighting a lot easier if you get down to studs.

6) Outlet Height – Pay attention to how high your outlet is from the ground. If your new recessed light doesn’t match up with the height of the existing outlet, it might not look so good.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Removing Recessed Light

1. Not using the proper safety equipment to remove 4″ recessed lights.

2. Leaving too many wires in the light fixture box impedes removal or not having enough wire exposed to grip for removal.


3. Not familiarizing yourself with the correct sequence of steps to remove recessed lights.

4. Not having an electrical source close enough to support the removal procedure for your recessed lighting.

5. Allowing too many foreign objects into the light fixture box, causing obstruction to bulb replacement or preventing lamp installation entirely.

6. Ignoring the need to test that the electrical source is dead before removing recessed lighting.

7. Not knowing how many inches of chain you should use for your particular fixture type (if available). Also, not measuring this distance before installation and not attaching the chain accordingly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Recessed Lighting Add Value to a House?

Depends on the property and layout of the home. Generally speaking, recessed lighting can provide value by adding character and interest to a home, while also reducing light pollution in a neighborhood. Additionally, recessed lighting can be used to create a more intimate or cozy atmosphere in a room. However, there is no one definitive answer as to whether or not recessed lighting adds value to a house. Ultimately, it depends on the layout and features of the home.

How Much Should an Electrician Charge for Recessed Lighting?

Electricians charge by the job, not by the hour. This means that an electrician may charge you a flat fee for the entire project, or they may charge you by the number of hours spent working on the project. The fee for recessed lighting may vary depending on the complexity of the project and the type of recessed lighting involved.

What is the Rule of Thumb for Recessed Lighting?

The Rule of Thumb for recessed lighting is to install the lights at a height of at least 2.5 times the width of the area they will fill. This will ensure that the light is evenly distributed throughout the space and that there is enough light to see by.

Are Recessed Lights a Fire Hazard?

Yes, recessed lights can be a fire hazard if they are not installed correctly. Recessed lights are designed to be concealed or hidden behind walls or other surfaces, but if the light is not properly installed and maintained, it can become exposed and accessible to fire. This is because recessed lights often have a built-in switch that allows them to be turned on and off remotely, which creates an opening in the wall or surface where the light is located. If the switch is not properly secured or if there is a violation of any safety rules related to the installation or use of recessed lights, this opening could be used to access the light and create a potential fire hazard.

Where Should You Not Put Recessed Lights?

It is often recommended that recessed lights not be placed in areas where they may become wet or dusty, such as near a shower or sink, near a water source (such as a kitchen sink), or near a furnace or air conditioning unit. Additionally, recessed lights should not be placed near windows or doors, as they can cause glare and make it difficult to see inside the room. Finally, recessed lights should not be placed near electrical outlets or switches, as they can become damaged by contact with the wires.


Recessed lights are a great way to add light and save energy in your home, but if you need an update or want more natural lighting, then it’s time to remove that old recessed fixture.

We have given some tips for how to remove a 4 inch recessed light from your ceiling without damaging anything.

First, remove any security screws on the outside of the housing unit before sliding out the electrical box inside.

Next, use a flathead screwdriver as leverage against one side of the metal frame while holding onto another side with a cloth-covered hand.

This will help loosen things up to be slid out together rather than moving them individually, which could damage wires and make things difficult later on.

We hope this blog post was helpful to give some insight into removing recessed lighting. If you know any other tips or tricks, then please leave them in the comment section below.

Leave a Comment