As this holiday season kicks off, many of us head outside to hang strings of holiday lights in our yards and on our home exterior. Typically, the biggest challenge is looking for the burned-out light bulb that makes a portion of your holiday decorations go dark. However, during the process of hanging lights, homeowners may also discover important home repair issues.
Here are the top seven home issues you can find while hanging holiday lights.
1. Electrical outlets
Electrical issues are usually the first problem discovered when hanging light strings. Outdoor outlets are exposed to the elements and could be more likely to become damaged. For example, a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) may have been tripped if a mouse chewed through a wire or the circuit came in contact with water.
Follow all safety tips if you think there could be a problem with your outlets. A loose connection or exposed wiring could result in an electric shock.
2. Circuit breakers
Homeowners installing an outdoor light display may also discover issues with the home’s electrical system or circuit breaker box. Again, take electrical issues seriously, and remember that your circuit breakers are an essential safety system that can help you avoid an electrical fire.
Some homeowners may only check out their electrical panel if they accidentally throw a breaker. However, proactive homeowners may want to look at their breaker box before installing holiday lights. You may discover that you need a diagram of which circuits are connected to which outlets or appliances. This can help you avoid overloading a single circuit.
You can also do the math to find out how many strands of lights can be plugged in together without overloading your circuits. Remember that LED Christmas lights generally use less electricity, helping you avoid blown fuses.
3. Overgrown shrubs
Homeowners may also discover foliage problems when they start to maneuver next to the exterior of the house.
We all know that plants should be at least two feet from your house to protect its foundation. However, until you set up a ladder to work on your holiday lights, you might not realize how overgrown the plants around your home have become.
If you discover overgrown shrubs, you may want to mark your calendar for March or April, which is the best time to prune bushes. If you have overgrown evergreens, you can also give them a light trim around the holidays and use that greenery for home decorations.
4. Issues with the roof or gutters
If you’re using a ladder to hang Christmas lights, you’ll be able to get a close look at your roof and gutters, and you could notice home issues that you didn’t see while on the ground.
When on the ladder, you may discover that gutters are not catching rainwater, causing a situation where rainwater could be pooling right next to your foundation. You could also discover missing shingles on your roof or a sagging roof, two other indications that your home could be at risk for water damage.
No matter what damage you discover while on the ladder, it’s a good idea to avoid additional damage by using light clips on the edge of your gutter while hanging Christmas lights.
5. Chimney starting to tilt or separate from the home
When installing holiday lights, you may also discover that your chimney or potions of your house may be out of plumb or starting to tilt. These are just a couple signs of foundation problems.
The classic way to test this is to hold a string with a small weight on it from the top edge of the house. Because the string will always fall straight downward, you can easily determine if there is a tilt to a portion of the home. For a tilting chimney, you may even start to see a visible gap where the chimney is pulling away from the remainder of the house.
Discovering this type of tilting can indicate that your home is settling unevenly or sinking into the ground. Because a settling foundation can affect the essential load-bearing structure of your home, this is not a repair you can DIY. A foundation expert can help you identify the causes of your problems and explore the best way to protect your home from damage. The strongest repairs can anchor your foundation to the bedrock below your home, ensuring lifetime stability.
6. Pest damage
While hanging light strands on your home, you may also discover pest damage. The signs and location will vary by type of pest. Along the eaves, you could find woodpecker holes or wasp nests. Where the house meets the ground, you could find signs of termites or ants.
7. Siding damage or wood rot
When hanging lights, you may also notice deterioration, damage, or wood rot on your siding or window frames. This means your home could be vulnerable to water damage.
In the warmer months, your home could be unprotected from heavy rains, resulting in flooding or moisture in your basement or crawl space. As the weather turns cold, the damaged siding could allow water inside the walls, cracking the concrete when it freezes.
Start your repairs by replacing rotted wood and fixing the siding. You may also benefit from the additional water protection of basement waterproofing or crawl space encapsulation.
Learn how the basement and foundation experts at Groundworks can help you protect your most valuable asset—your home.