Tis’ the season for holiday lights! You may have already noticed some homes in your neighborhood already adorned with a few strings of white lights or even complex, professional designs aimed to win contests.
Putting up outdoor holiday lights is a fun way to make our homes and our streets look festive, and are especially fun to see on snowy evenings. However, it’s important to keep in mind that no matter how many lights you plan to put up for your home to brighten the season, that you take the proper safety precautions to prevent problems such as shorting out your electrical system, triggering an electrical fire, or even causing a tripping hazard with loose cords. Here are some tips for holiday light safety from our very own Spokane, WA electricians.
Don’t Overload Your Electrical System
You know the scenes in movies where a homeowner goes to plug in their holiday lights and it knocks out power to their home, or to the entire street? While this may be a bit exaggerated for entertainment potential, it’s still a very real possibility, and can do damage to your electrical system. Do not overload the system! If you’re unsure of what your system can handle, contact our team and we’ll be happy to do an electrical inspection for you. You may be find using a rarely-used circuit breaker, but it could end up that you need an electrical panel upgrade.
Do Not Use Damaged Light Strings
Take a look at each string of lights before you hang them. While a string of lights that doesn’t turn on is an obvious sign that you shouldn’t use that string, there are other signs of damage you should look for as well. This includes places where insulation has worn off, or sockets have broken. This is a fire hazard, and that string should be thrown away. Generally speaking, the same light string shouldn’t be used for more than 5 years, anyway.
Only Use UL-Approved Hangers to Attach Outdoor Lights
One of the most commonly used methods to put up outdoor lights is to use nails, or even a power stapler. This isn’t exactly the best idea as you risk damaging the cord and creating a fire hazard. You can instead by special hangers for the lights, that are UL approved. UL stands for Underwriter Laboratories, and is a world leader in product safety testing and certification.
Keep Your Lights on a Timer
This is one of those tips that has a double benefit, as it helps you to not waste energy as well as improves the safety of your lights. Set your lights to a timer that shuts them off at a certain point each night, and then you won’t have to worry about accidentally forgetting to do so.
Take Your Lights Down After New Year’s
You may be wondering, how is this a safety tip? Well, leaving up outdoor lights of this nature—lights that aren’t designed for extended, year round use—for more than 90 days puts them at risk of suffering from damage, and this damage may render your lights useless next year, and/or create an unintended fire hazard.
ACI Northwest is here to help with your home comfort needs or concerns. Please do not hesitate to contact us for helpful advice.