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How to Fix Outdoor Christmas Lights

Most fires caused by holiday lights can be prevented. Fixing outdoor Christmas lights properly is one way to stay safe and keep your display looking great throughout the season. These light strings usually aren’t hard to fix. We’ll explain how to address some common Christmas light repairs below.

Inspect the Lights

Inspect all holiday lights and cords before you hang them. Look carefully for missing or cracked bulbs, and plug in the string to identify any bulbs that have burnt out. Don’t ignore an empty socket, as it can cause the entire strand to overheat, and don’t swap a bulb from another type of strand because it may require a different voltage.

Also check for insulation damage. The insulation around wires keeps in electrical current and protects the wiring from the elements. The outside sheath is most susceptible to damage. But if it’s worn or damaged, you can fix it with electrical tape, which is more fire-resistant and suitable for electrical applications than duct tape. If bare wire is exposed, the strand must be repaired or replaced.

How to Fix Christmas Lights

There are various things that can go wrong with outdoor Christmas lights. After all, they are exposed to the elements, carry a lot of power, and spend most of the year in oftentimes hostile storage environments. Here’s a look at some common problems and how to deal with them.

  • Christmas Light Fuses: You can easily find the fuses by sliding back the plug’s plastic covering. One or more fuses may be housed inside. A blown fuse is easily replaced with an identical fuse, and the light string should work again.
  • Testing Light Bulbs: If you’re wondering how to fix Christmas lights when half the string is out, a Christmas tree light tester is an effective way to find the faulty bulb. Plug the lights into the outlet and use, for example, a light tester pen; simply touch it to each bulb to find the defective one.
  • Replacing a Bulb: If you’re lucky, tightening a loose bulb will get the strand working. A burnt-out bulb can be replaced by a working light by pulling out the old one and inserting the new bulb with the metal contacts in the right position. Most Christmas light bulbs simply pull out or insert into their respective sockets.

What to Do When Replacing the Bulb Doesn’t Work

Outdoor Christmas lights can be finicky. If replacing the bulb hasn’t fixed the problem:

  • Check for dirt and grime in the socket and clean it out with a small file or brush. Make sure the wire contacts are clear before inserting a new bulb.
  • If the socket is corroded or damaged, remove it with a wire cutter, strip about ½ inch of insulation from both wires, and twist them together. Insert the twisted pair into a waterproof wire connector and turn it until secure.
  • Another method is to remove the defective socket with a wire cutter, strip the insulation, and solder the wires together, while using heat shrink tubing to protect them.

However, if this seems too complicated, or you don’t have the time, you may want to just replace the entire light set. Most holiday light bulbs don’t last more than two or three seasons, while newer LED lights are more efficient and can save on energy anyway.

Contact Black Hills Inc. Home Services for Help

We are glad to help with your outdoor Christmas lights this holiday season. Whether you’re not sure how to fix Christmas lights or suspect there’s a problem with your electrical system, our team can troubleshoot and fix the problem quickly. Customers in the Olympia, WA, area rely on us for all types of electrical wiring and panel repair, in addition to plumbing, AC, and heating services. Call 888-338-1312 or request an appointment online.

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