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What to Do When Your Christmas Tree Lights Don't Turn On?

by Liz Carlton
  • Overview

    Decorating is often part of the magic of Christmas as people brighten up their homes in celebration. People string lights across their doors, porches and trees as a way of sparking holiday cheer. But what happens when those festive lights go out? There are several common causes for faulty strings, many of which are easy to fix.
  • Bulbs and Fuses

    One of the most common problems with Christmas lights is bulbs burning out. That's why the best thing to do is to check your lights before decorating the tree. First untangle the string. Then, plug in the lights and lay them flat across the floor so you can observe whether all of the bulbs are working. This is very important because Christmas lights are wired in series which causes all of them to be interdependent. This means one burnt bulb can cause all the other bulbs to dim. Christmas lights typically come with a couple replacement bulbs, and it's important to save the extras. Although it is possible to buy replacements individually, it is best to use the extras that come with the package because the bases of these bulbs can differ depending on what brand you buy. If you happen to lose these extra bulbs, make sure you purchase the exact same brand and version of Christmas lights as the original. You can use the extra strand for replacement bulbs. When you find a burnt bulb, simply unscrew it from the base and replace it with an identical, working one. Another issue with string lights is sometimes due to faulty fuses within the product. This can be caused by connecting too many strings together. Christmas lights are typically created with extra outlets built to handle one or two string extensions. Adding more than two into a single outlet can cause an overload that can blow a fuse. Sometimes this can be fixed by simply replacing the fuse (if the strings come with a replacement). But typically it's best to simply recycle the blown string and buy a new set of lights.
  • Sockets and Storage

    However, there are instances in which the problem doesn't stem from the string of lights at all. Instead failure to light could be caused by the socket it is connected to. An easy way to check this is by plugging the string into a different socket. If the string works in one socket but not the other, your problem lies within the socket itself. This kind of problem should be inspected by a local electrician. The best way to avoid futures problems with your lights is to preserve them by packing and storing each string with care. Avoid wadding them up or putting them in a position that would cause the bulbs to bang together. The best way to avoid these mishaps is by storing the lights in the box they came in. By doing this you will be fitting your lights in a box custom made for its size, preventing too much rattling and shifting. A little care can go a long way, keeping your lights shining for seasons to come.

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