How to Fix Christmas Lights

How to Fix Christmas LightsHave you ever plugged in a strand of Christmas lights, only to find that they don’t light up or that half of them are out? It’s possible that your lights are no longer good, but it’s more likely that a small fix can light up the entire strand once again. We share the top issues that you might encounter, along with helpful tips on how to fix your Christmas lights.

The most common problems that cause a strand of lights to break are:

Getting started

wire cutter, file set, tester, scratch brush
Top left: Wire cutter; top right: file set; bottom left: Light Keeper Pro or tester; bottom right: fiberglass scratch brush

To fix these any one of these problems, you’ll need one or more of the following tools:
• Wire cutters
• File set
• Light Keeper Pro or tester
• Fiberglass scratch brush

Before you start working on your Christmas lights, take every precaution possible to avoid electrical problems. Electricity can be both dangerous and damaging. Make sure to unplug your light strands before you work on them, and check that there are no exposed wires when you plug them back in.

Blown Fuses

Cartridge fuse
Photo courtesy of Circuit Digest

When people think of broken Christmas lights, they generally think of bad bulbs. But blown fuses are actually the more common problem, especially if the entire chain of lights stops working. Luckily, these can easily be fixed or replaced.

How to fix a blown fuse:

how to fix a blown fuse
Photo courtesy of Lights & Decor for All Occasions

1. Completely unplug the light strand.
2. Find the sliding door labeled “Open” in the plug.
3. Slide the door open.
4. Remove the fuses.
5. If the fuses are clean and unbroken, move on to something else.
6. If the fuses are dirty and broken, replace them with new fuses.
7. Slide the door close.
8. Plug the light strand into an outlet and test the strand.

Bad Bulbs

Finding the bad bulbDepending on how the lights are connected on your strand, a bad bulb can cause dark patches in your Christmas lights. For those with half-out Christmas lights, this is likely the easy fix.

How to fix a bad Christmas light bulb:

1. Completely unplug the light strand.
2. Carefully remove the first bulb on the strand.
3. Check the copper leads to make sure they’re not damaged or missing.
4. Inspect the bulb itself for damage.
5. Place the bulb back into its socket.
6. Repeat this process with every unlit bulb on your strand.
7. Keep going until you find the damaged leads or broken bulb.
8. Replace the bulb depending on what is damaged.
9. Plug light strand into an outlet and test the strand.

There are Christmas light tester tools, such as the Light Keeper Pro, that you can buy at your local hardware store to test individual Christmas light bulbs. Simply attach the bulb to the device, and it will run an electric current through the bulb. You’ll know it still works if it lights up. If it stays dark, you’ve found your broken bulb.

Corroded Sockets

corroded socket
Photo courtesy of George’s Workshop

Corroded sockets aren’t a common problem because it takes time for corrosion to happen, but it’s still a possibility. When dirt gets in the socket, it prevents physical contact between the light bulb and the socket, disrupting the electrical current.

How to fix a corroded Christmas light socket:
1. Completely unplug the light strand.
2. Remove the first light on the strand.
3. Check the socket for any residue or dirt.
4. Gently use a small file or scratch brush to remove any debris found around the wire contacts.
5. Place the bulb back into the socket.
6. Repeat the process for all non-working Christmas light bulbs.
7. Plug the light strand into an outlet, and test the strand.

Bad Sockets or Wiring

Christmas lights wiringSometimes, the problem keeping your Christmas lights from lighting up isn’t solved by cleaning or replacing an element. A bad socket wiring is a perfect example of this. In this case, you’ll have to remove the socket to fix the problem.

How to fix a bad Christmas light socket:
1. Completely unplug the light strand.
2. Use a wire cutter to remove the broken socket from the strand.
3. Strip one half-inch of wire insulation from both sides of the cut wire.
4. Insert the stripped wires into a twist-on wire connector.
5. Turn the connector several times to secure the two wires.
6. Plug the light strand into an outlet and test the strand.
7. If lights turn on, unplug the strand again and apply a silicone sealant to the cap.
8. After silicone is applied and dried, test the strand one more time.

You’ll want to make sure that none of the stripped wire is exposed when you’re following these steps. Exposed wire touching artificial pine needles can lead to big problems.

If none of these solutions work for you, it may be time to buy new lights. For tips on how to properly string lights on your tree, check out this video by our very own Jennifer Lutz.

The Pre-lit Option

Pre-lit artificial Christmas treeThose who prefer not to play the role of an electrician can opt for a pre-lit artificial Christmas tree instead. At Tree Classics, we offer a wide variety of pre-lit trees with clear, multicolor, or color-changing lights. These feature our long-lasting Worry-Free™ lights, which are wired such that even if one bulb goes out, the rest stay lit. We’ve also strung our lights carefully to minimize the appearance of unsightly wires.

To browse our collection of pre-lit Christmas trees and holiday décor, come visit Tree Classics today.

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