Tree Safety and Light Troubleshooting Tips
How to keep your home safe and lights shining brightly
Decorating the Christmas tree is a tradition enjoyed every holiday season. Ideally, it’s a festive and jolly occasion, but if you’ve ever had to untangle strings of lights, or find that one burnt out bulb, you know it can be more like a nightmare before Christmas. Not to mention the possibility of the tree falling over or catching on fire! We prefer our holidays to be merry and bright, so with this article we’re sharing our best tips when it comes to tree safety and tree-light troubleshooting so that you can enjoy the season without worry.
Setting up the Tree
Before you bring your tree home from the lot, or get it out of storage and remove it from the box, the first thing you need to determine is the location for your tree.
If you have a real tree, there are several factors that you need to consider. Placing your tree near a heat source, such as a fireplace, baseboard heaters, or forced air ducts can all cause your tree to dry out faster. In front of a window can be a nice choice so that the tree can be seen from the street, but if that window gets southern exposure, the direct sunlight can also dry out your tree. Make sure that the location gives you easy access to get underneath and water the tree.
If you have an artificial tree, those factors aren’t really a concern. For both types of trees, easy access to a power source will make your life easier. You also want to be mindful that it isn’t located in a high traffic area such as near a doorway or hallway.
Lighting the Tree
If you have a natural tree, or your artificial one isn’t pre-lit, you'll need to put lights on the tree. The main options available are either incandescent or LED lights. It is completely your choice which style you prefer to use. Incandescent tend to cost less upfront and have a warmer glow, but LEDs use less energy, last much longer, and are cooler to the touch. For either option, make sure that your lights are UL approved and that there are no cracks or splits in the wires when you take them out of storage for the season. When purchasing strands of lights, a good rule of thumb is to have 100 lights per foot of tree.
Secure the Tree
Once you have the ideal location and the lights perfectly hung, now you want to make sure that it doesn't fall over. Depending on the size of your tree and the number of ornaments you have, securing your tree can be an important task. A good tree stand should be used, but sometimes you may need a bit of extra protection for peace of mind.
If you tend to put your tree in a corner of the room, you are likely to focus on decorating the front of the tree, leaving it with a sparsely adorned backside. This unbalanced weight can pull your tree forward, potentially causing it to tip over. This can be prevented by simply attaching a hook to your wall, and using a clear string like fishing line, looped around the tree and onto the hook. If your tree is on the larger size, a thin chain may be necessary to keep it vertical.
If your tree is in front of a window, there are clear plastic hooks you can purchase to secure your tree. These hooks have an adhesive back you can stick to the glass, and then use the same method of looping string around the tree. The clear hook will blend in with your window, and then the adhesive will easily remove without marking once you take the tree down.
The next thing to consider is providing power to your tree lights. To do that, we need to have the appropriate cords, whether it's inside or whether it's outside.
Power Bars & Extension Cords
When setting up our tree, we recommended selecting a location with easy access to an outlet and inspecting the strands of light to ensure they are in good condition. Sometimes outlets just aren’t in convenient locations, and the use of a power bar or an extension cord may be needed. Make sure that any cords you are using are in good condition and that they are certified for the proper usage. If you put lights up outside that require an extension cord, you need to make sure that cord is rated for outdoor use. Your extension cord should be polarized and have a grounded 3-prong plug. A power bar can be a good choice for indoor use, since they can be easier to access than a wall outlet and provide the extra surge-protection benefit.
It's recommended that you don't leave your lights on when you're away from home or through the night when everybody in the house is asleep. Of course, you can just manually turn them off or unplug the lights before bed, but timers can be used for added peace of mind. There are several options available for both your indoor and outdoor lights that allow you to set a lighting schedule.
A mechanical timer lets you program when you want it to turn on and when you want to turn off. For your outdoor lights, there's an option for a timer which uses a photocell, so that'll turn your lights on as the sun goes down. You're able to program the number of hours that you want your lights to be on for, so that after that time has been reached, the lights are turned off.
A neat option that is available for tech-savvy users is smart outlets, which lets you turn the outlet on and off using your smart phone. You can do this manually or the app will also let you set a schedule. Your tree will automatically turn on at your designated time of day and turn off again at your specified time.
Troubleshooting the Tree Lights
If your lights come out of the box a tangled mess, with only half the bulbs lighting up, we feel for you. We’ll show you how to troubleshoot your light set and get them all working properly so you can put them up on your tree.
Testing the Fuse
Many times, when your lights aren't working properly, there's a fuse inside the cord set that may be causing you the problem. Hidden inside the plug head are the actual fuses for your light set. To access these all you need is a small screwdriver, which is inserted into a slot and pushed forward to open. Once that is opened, you will find your two fuses.
Once you have the fuses removed, you will want to test them to figure out which one is the problem. There's two ways of testing, either with a multimeter or with a designated light-fixing tool. With the multimeter, you will touch the probes to either end of your fuse. If the fuse is good, the multimeter will make a sound. If using a light-fixing tool, simply drop the fuse into the slot and if it is good the tool will light up and make a sound.
If your fuse is bad, it will need to be replaced so that your lights continue to work properly. When you purchased your string lights, there was likely a small bag that contained spare bulbs and spare fuses. If you have misplaced this bag, you should be able to find new mini fuses at your local hardware store.
Bulbs and Shunts
If you have issues with the bulbs or shunts on your string lights, one of these incandescent bulb fixing tools can be extremely useful for troubleshooting. If a bulb isn’t lighting up when the strand is plugged in, you can remove the bulb and test it with the tool. If the bulb doesn’t light up, it’s the problem and can be replaced with a new one. If the bulb lights up in the tool, then there is an issue with the shunt, and it will need to be reset. To do this, insert the shunt into the tool – you will see the lights on the string light up. Then just pull the trigger to reset the shunt.
Hopefully these tips and tricks will save you some frustration this holiday season. The lights on your tree should shine brightly and you can enjoy their sparkle knowing everything is safe and secure. Be sure to follow our YouTube Channel to stay up to date on more content like this. If you find you need any replacement parts, search for your model number on our website.