DIY Network

Outdoor Holiday Lighting Safety

This DIY Basic will provide tips on outdoor holiday lighting safety.

More in Electrical

Step 1: Watch an Overview Video

Step 2: Gather Your Materials and Tools

Materials and Tools:

new wiring
new sockets
new bulbs
plastic clips
suction cups

Step 3: Make Any Necessary Repairs

For outdoor holiday lighting, use only UL approved lights certified for outdoor use.

Start by repairing or replacing frayed wires and damaged sockets.

Find and replace all burned-out bulbs.

Tip: Two burned-out bulbs can shorten the remaining life of a light set by 39 percent. Four burned-out bulbs increase that figure to 63 percent.

Step 4: String the Lights

Fasten strings of lights securely to tree trunks and bare braches, walls, posts, mailboxes, or other sturdy supports.

Use heavy duty extension cords for displays that use many lights.

Don’t string lights on metallic trees or close to water.

Stay away from electrical power or feeder lines leading from a utility pole into your home.

Tip: If you use a ladder, have someone hold it and keep it away from power sources. For really high spots like tall roofs and chimneys, use professional tools.

Step 5: Be Sure the Circuits and Plugs are Safe

Outdoor lights should be plugged into circuits protected by ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). If outside plugs are not GFCI protected, buy a portable, outdoor GFCI at a hardware or home supply store.

A warm plug or wire means the circuit could be overloaded and dangerous. Other signs of overloading are circuit breakers or fuses that blow repeatedly. This usually means you have too many light strings directed to one circuit.

Keep holiday lights on only during evening hours and turn them off when you go to bed or leave the house.