One of our favorite Christmas movies is “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” Who can forget the iconic scene when Clark Griswold gets his Christmas lights working for the very first time? He had so many lights on his home they could probably have been seen from space! If the holiday season makes you want to put up as many lights as you can (both inside and outside), then we are here to help you make sure your home is lit up for the season safely.
Holiday lights are beautiful, but they can be a dangerous if not done correctly. A lot of people pull out their box of lights, plug them all into each other, and staple the long string of lights to their house or wrap them around trees and bushes in their yard. But if you do this and do not take the proper precautions, you can create a heat condition that has the potential to burn your home down. With 30% of annual home fires occurring during the holiday season, electrical safety is something that should not be overlooked amidst all the excitement.
Take a close look at the products that you are installing and heed their limitations. Christmas lights are not made to last forever, and a lot of people use their lights far longer than they should. The box of lights tells you the wattage and the maximum amount of lights that can be plugged together. But often, people do not read that information and plug too many strands of lights together which can create all kinds of problems.
Electrical Safety problems with Holiday Light Displays
Electrical fires start because of heat conditions that are created in the home. If you are planning on installing lights to the outside of your home and string together 10-15 strands of lights and then plug them into one receptacle, you are creating an extreme heat condition. The same goes with the lights on your Christmas tree.
If all the lights are plugged into the same receptacle, there is potential for that receptacle to heat up and, in turn, heat up everything around it. First the outlet will start out warm, then get hot, then start smoking, and then start to melt which will eventually start a fire. This can be especially dangerous with a Christmas tree because people have a lot of ornaments and tinsel that can go up in flames in a matter of seconds.
Not only is too many lights on one circuit a fire hazard, but it will continue to trip your circuit breaker. Breakers are not designed to continually trip, and the more often they do, the less efficient they become.
Protect Your Home From Electrical Problems During Christmas Time
We understand decorative lighting is an important part of the holiday season, and if you follow the tips listed below you should be able to have a worry-free Christmas.
- Make sure you do not have a lot of lights plugged into the same receptacle. By limiting the amount of wattage being used, you are diffusing the heat conditions which will reduce your risk tripped breakers and fires.
- Make sure your tree is alive and watered daily. Christmas trees drink a lot of water, and a thirsty tree is a fire waiting to happen.
- Make sure all cords are out of the pathway of children and pets. Accidentally tripping over a cord can rip lighting out of the receptacle and cause serious damage.
- Make sure all outdoor cords are not in excessively wet or damp locations to reduce risk and other hazards. Also, make sure that all your outdoor receptacles are covered with plastic bubble covers. This keeps the extension cord protected from the outside elements while plugged in.
- Double check that all outdoor receptacles have a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) before plugging anything into them.
- If you want to install a lot of outdoor lighting, consider adding some additional electrical outlets to the exterior of your home. Having extra outlets installed specifically for the holiday season near trees and bushes that you want to wrap is a good idea.
- If you have had your lights for a few years, consider upgrading to more efficient LED lights. LED lights are better quality, more energy efficient, and produce less heat than regular lights.
- If you are stapling lights to the perimeter of your home, make sure the staple does not go through the wire. If you accidentally do, wrap up the wire with electrical tape to prevent further damage.
The holidays are a wonderful time of year, and if you follow the advice listed above, you should make it through without a hitch. If you have any questions regarding your holiday lighting, call the expert electricians at John Moore Services. We can give advice, install more outlets, and help you make your holiday season one to remember. Give us a call or request an appointment online!