You’ve decorated the Christmas tree, strung the lights outdoors and now you are ready for the moment of truth: Turning the lights on. What do you do when the strands of Christmas lights aren’t working? Here are a few tips to help you troubleshoot and figure out what is wrong with those lights that should be shining.
Check the Outlet and Extension Cord
The first thing to check when diagnosing a Christmas light issue is the extension cord (if you are using one) and the outlet the cord is plugged in to. If the outlet is a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlet, check to see if it has been tripped. Check the extension cord to see if it is getting power. Plug in an alarm clock or small light to the extension cord to verify it is working.
Check Electrical Breakers
If the outlet or extension cord are not working, the issue may be a tripped breaker. Check the breaker box for this issue.
Check the Individual Lights
If there are any lights on the strand lighting up, the problem lies with the light strand itself. A bad socket or a bad bulb on the light strand can cause an entire strand to go dark. Check each socket and bulb. Some light strands are designed to continue working if one bulb goes bad. In this case, it is easier to determine which bulb is bad and replace it. There are other Christmas light strands that will go out completely when one bulb goes bad.
Most Christmas light strands come with extra bulbs. Replace the bad bulb then check the lights again to see if they are working.
Check the Wiring
Check the wiring along the strand to see if there is any damaged or broken wiring. In the case of damaged wiring or even a damaged socket, the best option is to get rid of the strand and get a new one. Christmas light strands are not expensive and it is better to be safe than sorry – don’t take a chance with a damaged light strand.
Check the Strand Fuse
There are fuses located in the plug of Christmas light strands and often this is the next item to check. If the power to the electrical outlet or extension cord is good, there is no noticeable damage to the wiring or sockets and all bulbs appear to be good, the issue could be a blown fuse on the strand.
New Christmas light strands come with a small bag containing two replacement fuses and replacement bulbs. The fuses are very small, but a bad fuse will be dark and appear burned out. Replacing the bad fuse will usually solve the problem with the strand.
After checking the options without success, the safest option is to throw out the bad light strand. As stated earlier, Christmas light strands are not expensive and the peace of mind is worth the price of a new strand. It is better to discard a bad strand of Christmas lights than to risk a fire hazard.