5 Tips to Keep Holiday Lights Powered On and Safe

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Video Transcript:

Hi, everyone, Albert Bustos here, owner and master electrician at Mister Sparky.

I wanted to get with you guys today and give you five holiday tips on how to keep your decorations, your lighting, on and safe at the same time.

Tip #1 – 00:18 – Keep lights dry to avoid GFCI outlets clicking off

Okay, tip number one. What we see most of is we see the GFCI outlets clicked off. I just so happen to have one here in my pocket. So, that’s gonna be the outlet with the buttons on it. Sometimes when it’s off, you’ll see a little red light there, and that’ll tell you that it’s off. Okay, and so, what will do that with all of these yard decorations is moisture. That moisture can come from dew. It can come from rain, yard sprinklers especially. And you wanna keep all of your lighting dry, and I know we can’t do that, but one of the biggest points is, is when you have a connection point, right, like an extension cord, you wanna keep these connections dry. There’s a couple of doohickeys on the market that you can put onto something like that that covers it (twistandseal.com). There’ll be a link in the blog later, and you can, you can get those things there. Now, we’ve never tested ’em, but I did a lot of research into this to make sure I’m giving you good, relevant information, and I found ’em, so, I’m gonna give you that tip, but keep your electrical dry. As you know, electricity and water or moisture do not mix well.

Tip #2 – 01:28 – Weatherproof your outdoor outlets

Okay, so tip number two. Outdoor outlets, this is where your cord is going to plug in to the outlet that’s actually connected to your house. What you’re gonna see most of the time is you’ll see an outlet cover like this, with the little flippies. Okay, what happens there is when you plug into something like that, your connection point, your outlet, everything is totally susceptible to the weather. What we wanna do there, tip number two, of course, is to keep everything dry, you wanna use something like this. This is called a 24-hour in-use cover. A lot of times, people will call it a bubble cover, and what that does is it allows you to plug your cord inside to the outlet, close this cover, so that beating rain and other kind of moisture does not build up within the outlet itself and starts giving you problems. Our biggest thing is let’s keep those lights on, and let’s keep you safe at the same time.

Tip #3 – 02:28 – Avoid plugging in too much to a single circuit

Okay, tip number three. One of the biggest things we see is overloaded circuits. How can you tell if a circuit’s overloaded? Well, the easiest way to check that is if your breaker is tripping. Most of the time the breakers go through an overload is when there’s too much energy being drawn from that particular breaker. So, most homes will have a 15-amp circuit that go to the outdoor lighting or outlets, and you wanna make sure that you’re not overloading that. If you’re trying to use an outlet that is in your garage, this is very typical, but if you have an appliance plugged into there. Maybe you have a freezer or a refrigerator. You wanna make sure that you don’t overload that circuit. You’ll end up with spoiled food, all that kinda good stuff, so just be very careful about overloading a circuit. If you do overload the circuit and you can’t figure out what’s wrong, give us a call here at Mister Sparky. We can go out. We can help you out, and we can make sure you stay safe.

#4 – 03:30 – Consider adding a dedicated circuit for your outdoor decorations

Okay, now that brings me to tip number four. Is if you’ve got a lot of outdoor lighting going on, if you are the Clark Griswold of your neighborhood, okay, and you wanna be seen from space, I love that. My kids love that, so, you know, keep doing that. I encourage you, but, when you do that, you gotta make sure that you have the infrastructure to do that, and what I mean by that is you want probably a dedicated circuit, which means a breaker and a dedicated wire to an outlet or several outlets that’s just on that one breaker because you will be pulling a lot of power. Nowadays, you’ve got the inflatables, you’ve got the mechanical, kind of robotish stuff, you’ve got a bunch of lights. Now, luckily, we’ve got LED lights now, which I love because they don’t pull as much power. That’s gonna be better for you, and it saves you energy, so that’s a little bit of a tip in itself, but, you know, you can do that. With a dedicated circuit, then, you can also add different switching devices that only go to those outlets and don’t affect anything else. So, that’s more of a custom thing, and if you’ve really got a lot of lights, we can help you with that.

#5 – 04:43 – Try this DIY test before calling an electrician when holiday lights go out

Okay, now, it brings us to the final point, tip number five. And tip number five gets into a little bit more of electrical, but when you have the GFCI clicked off, right, where it’s tripped out, you’ve got the little red light or you’ve got a tripped breaker, remember, like I said earlier, those devices are doing their job, so don’t try to bypass them. That’s definitely not a DIY thing. Now, what I would suggest to you that is a DIY is if you have your Christmas lights that are just giving you all kinds of nuisance trips and stuff because of maybe some dew or some other moisture, the best thing that you can do before calling an electrician is go ahead and unplug all of the lights from the actual outlet on the wall, and then what you’re gonna do is reset the GFI. That’ll be one of the buttons there that’s going to basically re-energize the outlet, give it power again. If it powers back up, the red light goes off, then you know that it’s basically your lights that are causing the trip, so let those dry out over a few hours, get some sun on ’em or whatnot, get all the moisture out. Try plugging ’em in again. If they plug in and everything comes back on, voila, you fixed it yourself. So, that’s all you need to do. If you have the tripping breaker, that is a different story in itself, and it could be that you have a shorted line or something like that, but use the exact same process. Just unplug your lights, reset the breaker. If everything is still good and powered on, and when you plug those lights back in, the breaker trips off or the GFCI trips off, then you know it’s the lights that are causing the problem, so simply unplug those, start checking your connections, check your sockets, check your wiring to make sure that nothing got cut. So, really, that’s tip number five.

I hope that all of this paid off for you. I hope it helps you, saves you some money. At the end of the day, I’m gonna be putting videos out like this every month, okay. I love talking about this stuff. I hope you guys love hearing about it, and it’s just tips and tricks to one, save you money, and two, let’s keep you safe when you’re doing this stuff, okay? Guys, I’ll see you next month.