Holiday lights

Ever feel like Clark Griswold when you are hanging your holiday lights?

Well, here are some tips to help you safely hang your lights this year.

  • The best time to hang your lights is now … before it gets too cold and icy. Climbing a roof or ladder in cold and icy weather is dangerous.
  • Plan ahead. Map out where your lights will go and make sure you have enough working lights for that area. Use a long tape measure to figure the number of strands you will need. Be sure to take into account the eaves, windows, doors, shrubs, trees and the like. Measure the length of your house along the ground. Also measure its height and the height of any bushes or trees you intend to light. Then measure the lengths of the light strings you will need to outline doors or windows. Figure the number of 50-foot light strings it will take for all of these measurements.
  • Shorter is better.When purchasing strings of lights, choose shorter strings, so if a string stops working it’s easier to replace.
  • Go LED. LED Christmas lights are initially a bit more expensive than conventional lights, but they burn cooler, use less electricity and last much longer. And always choose UL approved outdoor lights.
  • Locate an electrical receptacle. Plan to run heavy-duty extension cords from a working 120-volt electrical outlet protected by a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). Ideally, use a switch-controlled outlet, or plug the lights into an automatic timer. Both the receptacle’s circuit and the timer must be rated to handle the combined amperes of all the light strings. Do not use an indoor timer outdoors.
  • Test the lights. Before you plug them in, visually inspect the light strings, looking for broken or missing bulbs and worn or defective wiring. If you discover faulty wires, replace the string entirely, as this could present a fire hazard. If bulbs are broken or missing, replace them.
  • Set up a ladder. If your home’s eaves are low, you may be able to use a stepladder; otherwise, plan to use an extension ladder. Place it firmly on flat ground and, extending it well above the eaves, lean it against the eaves at an angle that will be comfortable and safe to climb — neither too steep nor too flat. If you must lean the ladder against the gutter, place a short piece of two-by-four inside the gutter to reinforce it.
  • Hang the lights along the eaves. Your objective is to hang lights as easily and safely as possible without marring your home’s trim or walls. For attaching lights along gutters or the roof, use plastic clips made for the job, which grip shingles or gutters and have a lower hook that holds a light strand or extension cord.
  • Attach the lights to the trim. For attaching lights to window trim and similar vertical surfaces, use rope light clips or adhesive or nail-on plastic string light clips, readily available online or at home improvement centers. Space them about 12 inches apart or as recommended. Do not use staples or nails to hang light strings. They can pierce or wear away the protective insulation, creating an electrical hazard.

Hopefully, you have found these tips to be useful. So flip the switch, sit back and enjoy your glorious display.

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