Although decorating your home with holiday lights always yields a fun, festive result—we understand that the process can be daunting, and at times, dangerous for you and your roof.
To keep you safe (and sane) this holiday season, here are our best decorating tips to help you transform your home into a sparkling winter wonderland with ease!
Create a Game Plan
First, you’ll need to make a plan for hanging your holiday lights. It’s essential to decide where you’ll want to place your lights, whether that is on your landscaping or home, to determine the number of lights you’ll need, the height your ladder will need to reach, and how many extension cords you’ll need to use.
Use a tape measure to determine the length of doors, window frames, gutters, roof peaks, and other locations you’d like to decorate. While you’re measuring, ensure these spots are secure and that your lights will stay safely hung in place during mighty winds, rain, and snowstorms.
Locate Your Power Source(s)
Once you’ve determined where you’d like to hang your lights, you’ll need to locate the closest power source.
Although many newer homes have outlets outside, you may need to run an extension cord through your window if you live in a historic home. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s best to choose a room with a window that’s not frequently used to run the extension cord through. This helps eliminate cold drafts.
Regardless of whether you use an indoor or outdoor power source, the outlet’s location may determine, or even limit, where you can place your lights. You’ll need to plan your light display accordingly.
Check Your Lights
If you already have lights from previous years, plug in each of the strands before hanging them to ensure they’re still bright and sparkling. If any of your cords have burned out, replace them with new lights. You’ll also need to replace frayed or damaged cords for the sake of safety.
If you haven’t already done so, consider upgrading your outdated incandescent lights with LED lights. Not only are LED lights more vibrant and energy-efficient than incandescent bulbs, but they stay cooler too, limiting the risk of your lights overheating and starting a fire during the holidays.
Gather Your Tools
Before you start hanging your lights, make sure you have all the materials you need. You’ll need your lights, light clips, and a sturdy ladder, but you may also find adhesive hooks, light-hanging poles, and timers helpful during the decorating process.
Use Light Clips
Instead of using damaging screws, nails, or a staple gun, use light clips to protect your roof while hanging your holiday lights.
Light clips are made of plastic, and they’re designed to attach to gutters, brick, and siding safely and professionally. Consider purchasing all-in-one light clips to hold most types, sizes, and weights of strands.
If light clips aren’t already applied to your strands, make sure to attach them while you’re on the ground before climbing up the ladder. It can be dangerous to fumble with the clips while you’re standing several feet in the air.
Install Short Sections
It may be convenient to purchase just a few long strands of lights to decorate, but long strands can become a hazard. Plus, when one strand burns out, it can be frustrating and time-consuming to replace it. Instead, install your lights with shorter strands in small sections at a time.
Find a Partner
Before you start hanging your lights, find another adult, like a neighbor, friend, or spouse, who can help you by holding the ladder and handing materials to you as you need them.
Even if your kids are adamant about helping, the decorating process can be dangerous for young children. Consider giving them a decorating task indoors, like placing ornaments on the tree while you tackle the outdoor lights.
Stay Off the Roof
Resist the urge to climb on your roof to achieve the perfect lighting placement. Walking on your roof is a risk for your safety, but it’s also dangerous for your roof. You may damage or break shingles that will require a roof repair or replacement.
If your family is determined to have lights covering the higher peaks on your roof, consider hiring a professional to complete the job.
Use Ladder Safety
When you’re hanging lights in hard-to-reach places, you’ll need to use a ladder. However, make sure that your ladder is secure and tall enough to reach all the places you’ll be decorating.
Also, don’t lean your ladder against your gutters. The extra weight may cause your gutters to break, and in turn, may cause you to fall off the ladder.
Check Your Cords
It’s crucial to verify that all the extension cords and lights you’re planning to use are safe for outdoor use. You can check for this information on the lights’ packaging before you buy them.
Also, calculate the power wattage to prevent your circuit from becoming overloaded or blowing a fuse. Multiply the wattage of each bulb by the number of sockets on each strand to calculate the total wattage of each string. Then, divide the total watts by 120 to reach the total amps.
Turn Lights Off
Finally, make sure that you either turn off your lights before you go to bed or set a timer that will turn them off automatically around midnight. This small task will help you save on energy costs and prevent your lights from becoming overheated.
Got Roofing Questions? We Can Help.
While you’re installing holiday lights on your gutters or roof, you may develop some pressing questions about your roof or even notice some places on your roof that need attention.
At JD Hostetter, we aim to answer your questions about your roof, including the benefits of a new roof, the replacement process, and the cost of a new roof in our complete roofing guide!