How to Hang Holiday Lights Safely
No sooner than the Thanksgiving leftovers are put away, we pull out the Holiday lights and spend countless hours decorating our homes. Strings of lights, blow up figures, wreaths, bows, animated animals adorn our front yards. With all of these decorations, there is one definite that most homeowners never consider prior to the decorating festivities....overloading your outlets and electrical panel. Like Clark Griswold, it's never a good idea to overload your outlets with countless extension cords.
According to the National Fire Protection Association holiday lights and other decorative lighting are involved in an estimated average of 160 home structure fires each year and over $9 million worth of property damage. With a few tips and tricks you can have the best do it yourself holiday light show that will rival any Griswold, and won't be a hazard to you or your home.
- Always use interior or exterior extension cords to manufacturer's recommendations. Do not use interior extension cords to plug in your light display outside. Make sure when you are running your extension cords, they are not in standing water, under snow, near a downspout, or buried under leaves, mulch or dirt. Keep cords out of walkways or secure them with tape to prevent trips and falls.
- Inspect your lights and electric decorations for any damage, fraying or exposed wires. Verify that the connections and sockets are not loose and will fit securely into the outlets. When repairing lights, make sure that the wattage rating of the replacement bulb matches that of the light strand. Too high of a wattage can cause the light string to overheat, thus creating a fire risk. Use a sturdy ladder and only plastic insulated hangers. While it may be tempting to use nails, staples or tacks; this is never a good idea.
- The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends that you use no more than 3 strings of standard lights per single extension cord. Stringing more than 3 strings of lights together, as well as a number of extension cords to each other, can cause shorts and your electrical circuits to overload. Before you start stringing your lights, know that wattage rating of your extension cords. If you overload them, the result can be overheating the cords and fire. A good solution is to have additional exterior GFCI outlets installed to accommodate the extra electrical load. Only use a licensed electrician for this type of work. They will be able to inspect your panel, properly install the outlets, and make sure that you are not overloading your electrical system.
Make sure your joy lasts all season. With the proper electrical preparedness steps, you'll be shining bright. At Casteel Heating, Cooling, Plumbing and Electrical, we applaud the spirit of the Griswold holiday light display BUT we want to make sure that you are safe and hazard free. Our team of licensed expert electricians are specially trained to evaluate, diagnose and install extra outlets specific to your holiday lights display. Are you interested in just "flipping the switch" and lighting your home up? We've got you covered there. A simple switch install will prevent you from fumbling with plugs in the cold. Contact Casteel today at (770) 766-1657 or schedule online. As always, your trip charge and diagnostic is JUST $39 BUCKS!