42% of Americans choose to decorate the exterior of their homes each holiday season. Although decorating for Christmas can be a lot of fun, it can be frustrating if your Christmas lights aren’t working as they should.
If you’ve kept your Christmas lights in storage during the year, you may find that they don’t light up as they should once you plug them in. Fortunately, you don’t have to throw them out. Depending on the cause of the problem, you can fix a string of Christmas lights and get them working again.
Here’s how to troubleshoot Christmas lights so that you don’t have to buy new ones.
1. Be Sure That Your Lights Are Getting Power
Although it may sound like a simple thing, you need to be sure to check that the outlet your Christmas lights are plugged into is getting power.
Either plug the string of lights into a different electrical outlet or try plugging something else into the outlet you’re using. You can also use a pin tester to check whether the outlet is giving power or not.
If the outlet itself doesn’t seem to be working, then you may need to check the breaker box of your home instead to verify that the outlet is switched on.
2. Check for Broken Christmas Light Bulbs
You should also check to see whether any of the bulbs on your string of Christmas lights are bad. One broken bulb can cause problems with your entire string of lights.
It can be difficult to determine which bulb is the bad one, but it can be done. You can do this by using a multimeter or a tool that is specifically for use with Christmas lights.
In some cases, a bulb might just be loose and need to be tightened. In other cases, repairing broken lights will require you to replace the bulb. Fixing a bulb should get your string of lights back to normal again.
3. Take a Close Look At the Wire
When looking for holiday light damage, you should also check the wire itself.
If there’s a break in the wiring or if the plugs are damaged, you might want to simply dispose of the Christmas lights. While you can work to cut out a faulty section and mend the wire, it’s usually more trouble than it’s worth.
If you don’t repair the wire well enough, the lights could also serve as a fire hazard. Remember that Christmas lights can be dangerous, so it’s better not to push your luck. In this case, you may simply want to buy new Christmas light strings.
4. Fix the Christmas Light Shunts
In some cases, it may be the shunts on your string of Christmas lights that are causing trouble.
If your Christmas lights still fail to light up even after replacing bad bulbs, then a shunt may be to blame. A shunt serves as a low-resistant path for electrical current to go through to reach the bulbs on the string.
Christmas light repair tools can help to fix shunts. To use one, you’ll need to remove a bad bulb and then connect the socket with the repair tool that you’re using.
You’ll need to follow the tool’s instructions to shoot pulses through the circuit and reactivate the shunt on the string of Christmas lights. You’ll then add the bulb back to the socket.
5. Look for Blown Christmas Light Fuses
A common cause of Christmas tree light problems is a blown light fuse.
Generally, there are two fuses behind a sliding door at the male end of a plug. Sometimes you can check to visibly see if one of these fuses is blown. If you can’t tell easily, you’ll need to test the fuses with a multimeter instead.
If a fuse is blown, you’ll need to replace it to get your Christmas lights working again.
6. Avoid Running Too Many Lights Together
You may find that after stringing a lot of Christmas lights together and connecting them, your lights are turning off. If you try to run too many lights through the same electrical outlet, it could cause problems. You could be using too much power at once.
You may want to check the breaker box to verify how much wattage you can use on any particular outlet. To do this, multiply the amp value shown by the number of outlet volts that there are. It’s a good idea to separate Christmas lights into multiple electrical outlets whenever you can to avoid using too much power on any single outlet.
As an alternative, you might simply want to try using a holiday light splitter instead to ensure that electrical current is distributed more evenly.
7. Determine Whether You Should Replace Your Lights
If you failed to fix the Christmas lights using any of the previous steps or if the lights or the wire are damaged to a great extent, you might want to purchase a new string of lights. Christmas lights are fairly affordable, and it’s often worth buying new Christmas lights instead.
Remember that if you try to mend a broken wire or don’t fix the Christmas lights appropriately, it could serve as a fire hazard. If you attempt to fix your Christmas lights, make sure that you do it right.
Understanding How to Troubleshoot Christmas Lights
If you’re trying to learn how to troubleshoot Christmas lights, be sure to follow all of the steps that are listed here. There are a variety of problems that your Christmas lights could have. Be sure to check for each of them carefully if you want to get your string of lights working again.
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