If you plan to brighten your Michigan home exterior with cheerful holiday lights this year, here are a few simple guidelines and precautions for how you can do it safely and without damaging your roof.
With these simple tips, you’ll be sure to “disaster-proof” your decorating adventure, hang holiday lights like a pro, and enjoy a colorful expression of joy this holiday season.
Preserve Your Roof and Brighten Your Home with These Simple Light Hanging Tips
1. Plan Your Overall Design and Get Organized
Think of your home exterior as a room that needs balanced attention when it comes to decorations. If you put lights on your roof, make sure there are also lights below it on your door, front porch, pillars, and yard to give an overall sense of cohesion and symmetry. Don’t forget your backyard! You’re sure to enjoy twinkles from the lights out your back windows, and you’ll enhance the holiday atmosphere indoors even more.
Evaluate your hanging surfaces such as your roofline, gutters, and shingles. Check how thick your gutter lip is, and see if your gutters get in the way of your roof shingles visually. If your shingles feel loose or look damaged, call a roofing professional to have them repaired, and opt for a different surface to hang your holiday lights from.
Plan how many lights you need (the pros always measure for accuracy), test the lights you already have (trash the old, hazardous ones), and then fill any gaps by purchasing additional supplies you need. Make sure all your lights are rated for outdoor use.
Realize that LED holiday lights are brighter than traditional ones, and save you money on energy costs. They also stay cooler, won’t overheat, and therefore reduce the risk of a roof fire. Popular lights for hanging on your roof or gutter are icicle lights, or C7 and C9 bulbs.
2. Skip the Nails and Staple Gun, and Use Plastic Clips Instead
Avoid using staple guns or nails that make tiny holes in roofing (that later could become entry points for water, bringing damage to your roof, attic, and home interior). When it comes to hanging holiday lights on your roof, plastic clips are your new best friend. They attach easily onto gutters, your roof eaves, or (not our favorite option, but if necessary) on the edge of your roof shingles. They can also be used on walkways, windows, railings, and more, giving your decorating a professional look. Take time to read the instructions and follow them to protect your home exterior.
All-in-one clips for shingles and gutters are a common go-to; eave clips and ridge clips are also available. And Parrot Clips work perfectly for stucco homes. Their unique pliable design allows them to fit on walls which are up to 8-inches wide. They hold holiday lights without damaging your home.
3. Plug Outdoor Lights into Circuits Protected by Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs)
Rather than unsafely running cords all over your yard, consider using a power stake. This portable device brings instant power wherever you need it. And for your safety, never connect different types of lights on the same circuit or outlet. If you prefer to use your home’s outdoor outlets, measure how many feet of power cord will be needed to reach from the power source to the beginning of your roofline, and obtain a cord that is the appropriate length.
Set your lights to come on and off when you choose with holiday light timers so that even if you’re not home in the evening, you can still spread cheer to those who pass by your home.
4. If at All Possible, Stay Off Your Roofing While Hanging Lights
One way to protect your roof is to keep your feet on the ground where it’s safest, and use an extension pole instead of a ladder to hang as many lights as possible.
If you need to use a ladder to reach higher places on your roof’s perimeter, work with a partner for your safety. While climbing a ladder, have another person hold it steady. Use an S hook to hang a bucket on the ladder to hold the supplies you need. Ask your partner to pass you any additional items you need so you can focus on safety and light placement.
5. Use Extreme Caution if You Walk on Your Roof
Maximize your roof’s lifespan by staying off it as much as possible. If you need to walk on it to put up holiday lights, walk gently and wear soft tennis shoes. If your roof is made of tile, you can avoid breaking any of them by placing your feet carefully on two peaks rather than between the tiles on the valleys.
See the Difference with a Roofing Contractor
Of course, if you notice any signs of damage on your roof when going to hang your Christmas lights, stop what you’re doing and call a roofing professional like John McCarter right away.
Our skilled team repairs and replaces all types of roofing systems in Ann Arbor, Rochester Hills, and the Greater Detroit Area. We offer full-service home improvement services and install gutters, siding, and windows. Get a free roofing quote today.