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Tis the season for Christmas decorating and we have seen some electrical stuff that got people put on the naughty list. So here's an electrician's guide to safe holiday lighting for your home, indoors and out.
With over 25 years of experience as electrical contractors, Kraun brings you the best of knowledge and service. Today we're covering our top safety tips to make sure that you hang your Christmas lights inside and outside safely as possible.
We promise you, there are going to be some tips here that you haven't heard anywhere else. So make sure you read through to catch everything.
First, we’re starting indoors and then working our way outside. So off the top, let's knock off a few tips you probably already know, but it's good to have a refresher.
For indoor Christmas lights, make sure you're checking all of the cords, bulbs and plugs on any strings you own. That's especially true if you're using old incandescent string lights. If you are using older lights, maybe it's time to consider switching to some LEDs because they're brighter, they're cooler and use less energy.
Another tip is if you're using a real Christmas tree, make sure you're keeping it regularly watered because one in four Christmas tree fires start with electrical problems.
Speaking of which, have you checked your smoke detectors lately? That's typically something to be in the habit of when the time changes in the spring and fall. So if you haven't, then I suggest checking them all right now. This blog will be here when you get back. Go ahead!
Alright, now that you're back, let's talk about power bars and extension cords. The main thing to check is to ensure they're not getting hot from usage. If they are, you have too much plugged in, or it's time to replace the equipment.
Here's a Christmas light tip you probably don't know. How much do you know about these markings approved by the ESA?
You may never have looked closely at them, most people don't, but they are incredibly important. Any electrical appliance you purchase must have a label like this. Items from Amazon and or the dollar store may have counterfeit markings or have no markings at all. It's more common than you think.
So be sure to check before you purchase. You can examine the package or the listed item online, and in the listing’s comments, to make sure that the labels are properly marked. If it doesn't have an approval mark, don't buy it.
That's it for indoor Christmas light tips, so let's move outside.
First is common sense when hanging string lights, and that's being safe on the ladder and on your roof. You do not need a Luthor Krank situation. A few simple safety tips are to avoid unsafe reaching and to make sure that you are always on stable ground.
It's also worth having someone outside with you to make sure that you are safe when you're up on the ladder or on the roof. The second major lighting tip outdoors is to use the proper clips. They should be plastic, not metal. If you have a damaged wire that's touching a metal clip that's touching your metal gutters, your gutters could be electrically live, and that is incredibly unsafe. Might teach those squirrels, though! So to avoid creating a short, just use plastic clips. That's your best bet.
The next tip is to plug your lights into a GFCI receptacle. A GFCI receptacle is a ground fault circuit interrupter outlet. GFCIs are circuit breakers that cut power off if they detect a ground fault, which creates a serious risk for shock. And that is not how you want to be spending your holidays!
To get your lights to reach your GFCI power source, you may need to run extension cords. If you are, please don't use your old archaic, unsafe cords. Finding a quality outdoor-rated extension cord with a 12 to 14 AWG, which is an American wire gauge rating, should support everything you need.
Lastly, please do not piggyback your extension cords because that can create unsafe conditions as well. If you're running one extension cord that can carry more power through another extension cord that carries only a little bit of power, you're creating a major risk for fire, shock, and or equipment damage. None of which your insurance company will feel too merry about!
That about wraps it up, or unwraps it, for our electrician's guide to safe holiday lighting. So if this blog made you feel jolly, let us know! And with that, we hope you have a happy holiday! Merry Christmas and all the best.