How to Troubleshoot Christmas Lights

How to Fix Broken Christmas Lights

There are many reasons why your Christmas lights may not be working properly, from electrical issues to damaged bulbs. Luckily, with some basic tools and tips, you should be able to fix your lights and have them shining bright in no time.

Start by Ensuring That Power is Running to Your Lights

When troubleshooting Christmas lights, the first thing you should do is make sure that the outlet the lights are plugged into has power. If your Christmas lights went out shortly after installation, you could be dealing with a power supply issue. If only a portion of the string has gone out, it is unlikely that power is the problem. Here is how to determine whether or not your string of lights have power:

Check your home’s breaker box to ensure that lights have not tripped your breaker switch. If the breaker switch has flipped, the outlet that your lights are plugged into will not be receiving any power. Flipping the switch back should restore power to your outlet, but you may want to consider whether your outlet can handle the amount of Christmas lights that are plugged in.

Test the outlet that the lights are plugged into. This can be done easily with an inexpensive GFCI tester.

If Power Isn’t The Problem, Check the Fuses on Your Lights

Most new strings of Christmas lights come equipped with accessible fuses built into the plug, as well as replacement fuses. These replacements normally come in the same package as extra bulbs. To check and replace the fuse, you will need a small pair of pliers and/or screwdriver.

  • Unplug the strand of lights.
  • On the male plug end, use the pliers to slide open the cover.
  • Determine whether the fuse is broken by assessing the tiny glass cavities inside the cover. If the fuse has been blown, the tiny copper wire between the metal contacts will be broken.
  • Replace any broken fuses with the additional fuses provided, or with fuses that are the same size and rating.

Make Sure the Strand is Functional

  • Unplug the strand of lights from all electrical outlets
  • Examine the strand, carefully checking for any copper wires poking through. If you do find loose wires, discard the strand of lights.
  • Unscrew the bulbs and save them for replacements on other strings of lights.

Check Each Bulb and Socket for Damage or Defects

Once you have confirmed that the strand of lights is still okay to use, check each bulb

  • Check to see if the bulbs are sitting properly in their sockets by gently pulling on each bulb. Tighten any loose bulbs back into their sockets.
  • Replace any dim or burnt out bulbs. If you do not have replacement bulbs at home, you can purchase new ones at hardware stores.

Carefully Storing Lights Can Prevent Future Malfunctions

The best way to avoid damaged Christmas lights and nasty tangles are by storing them safely between the Christmas seasons.

  • After the holidays, take extra care to gently wind your lights into neat loops.
  • Use zip ties or elastics to hold the loops in place.
  • Store the lights in a large plastic bin with a small hole cut out in the bottom to allow for draining (especially if you are dealing with exterior lights) and label the bin.

Professional Christmas Light Installation Could Save You Time

Each year, more and more people choose to hire professional Christmas light installers who work with commercial grade lights and take care of power supply and function.