Holiday Light Safety
You’ve hung stockings hung by the chimney with care. Lights festoon your rooftop and Christmas tree. Low lighting, big events, and unusually high stress set the scene–for both you and your home’s circuits, especially if you’re a property investor. Now’s the time to err on the safe side and complete a quick safety check of your holiday lights. Taking a few precautions now can help you avoid emergencies and enjoy the holiday season incident-free.
1. Holiday Light Safety Step One: Check Your Christmas Lights
If you (or tenants of your home rental) are still stringing up decade-old Christmas lights, it might be time to give them a rest. First, look for UL-certified Christmas lights. Certified lights are guaranteed to meet industry standards and specifications. Double-check that your outside lights are intended to be used outdoors, as well. That information can be found on the light’s packaging. If you’re not sure about a string of lights, only use them indoors.
2. Invest in LED Lights
If you’ve been shopping for Christmas decor lately, you’ve probably noticed that almost all the lights on display are LED’s. There’s a reason for that–and it’s not just energy efficiency. Year after year, LED lights cause dramatically fewer electrical fires and other emergencies than their incandescent counterparts. Because they burn cooler, they’re less likely to overheat and cause a fire. They also make a substantially smaller dent in your power bill.
3. Hang Lights Carefully
By following the proper steps to hang up lights, you’ll reduce the risk of property damage and decoration-induced crises. Keep lights away from flammable materials. Ensure they’re hung securely out of the way of your home’s gutters and out of reach of small children. If you’re using extension cords to light up your display, make sure you tape cords down and out of the way, so they don’t pose a trip hazard.
4. Hanging Lights Outside? Use outlets with a GFCI
External outlets should be equipped with GFCIs–ground fault circuit inhibitors. These breakers help prevent a short from causing an electrical fire if rain or snow affects the integrity of your circuit. If your property doesn’t have GFCI outlets outdoors, consider installing them. Keep in mind that some insurance policies won’t pay for damages caused by out-of-code wiring if there is a disaster. So it’s worth your while to make sure your home–or your rental property–is up to snuff.
5. Invest in a Timer
Holiday lights and powered decorations should never be left on when they won’t be appreciated. That means you should be unplugging all lights at night before heading to bed–or turning them off, using a timer you’ve set in advance. The same goes if you’re planning to leave the house for a few hours: turn the lights off when you leave. Leaving lights on for extended periods of time makes them more likely to overheat. If you’re not home to notice when something goes awry, a minor problem could quickly become a major one.
Unfortunately, holiday light safety depends on more than just a few safety checks each year. Consistent maintenance is the only way to make sure your home is in solid shape to avoid emergencies, keep insurance rates low, and keep your home safe well beyond the holidays. Are you wondering how Bancroft & Associates can help you manage the maintenance of your rental properties? Contact us today.