“The holiday season is upon us and many homeowners will engage in the time-honored tradition of decorating the exterior of their homes with string lights,” said Christopher Wittmann, CR, exterior product specialist with Callen Construction in Muskego. “Although this annual ritual can help put you in the holiday spirit while contributing to a beautifully lit and festive neighborhood, it is a task that presents a few risks of which homeowners should be aware.” Callen has a few tips on how to safely hang holiday lights without damaging the roof.
Before you set foot outside and begin hanging the first set of string lights on the exterior of your home, it’s important to examine the lights themselves. Be sure to unravel any knots in the strings of the lights prior to heading out the door. This will save you time and energy while on the ladder. Additionally, it’s important to plug the lights into an outlet and check for any flickering lights, burned out bulbs, or exposed wiring before hanging them. “These issues can be indicative of electrical problems, which could culminate into a fire hazard,” Christopher said. Furthermore, you want to ensure that the extension cords you use to connect different sets of lights together are intended for outdoor use. It’s important to inspect your ladder as well to be sure that it’s in excellent condition. Always place your ladder on even ground and never reach further than the length of your arm.
Once you have established that all of your sets of lights are in working order and that your ladder is safe and sturdy, you can begin to hang holiday lights. “The best method entails feeding the lights through plastic clips, as the clips can be securely attached to the gutters, eaves, or shingles, depending on your home style,” said Christopher. Plastic clips are safe to use and simple to attach and remove. Plus, they’re inexpensive and are sold at most major hardware and department stores. “Never use staples or nails, as both can leave behind perforations that moisture can creep into, subsequently damaging your roof,” he said. “Moreover, if the nails or staples pierce the wires of the lights, electrical malfunctions are likely.”
Although decorating your home for the holiday season can be a joyous occasion, no one looks forward to taking them down. Still, removing the string lights from your home is inevitable, and it’s especially important to be cautious when doing so. “Always be sure to remove each plastic clip one at a time, instead of tugging on the lights themselves, otherwise your run the risk of damaging the roof or the lights,” Christopher said. “Practicing added caution during removal is a cost-effective and time-saving approach in the long run.”
Homeowners should always be safe when they hang holiday lights and decorate the exterior of their homes. “This includes inspecting your lights before and taking the necessary precautions during both setup and removal,” he said. “These safeguards not only allow you to safely use outdoor lights, but they also allow you to express your creativity so that you, your family, and passersby can fully appreciate and admire your home this holiday season.”