Holiday lights are great for showing off your knack for design and spreading some seasonal cheer. However, while there is no denying just how great holiday lights can be—especially due to the introduction of LED technology—you’ll still need to make sure your lights are working and are completely up to date.


When compared to the incandescent and fluorescent lights of the past, LED lights have longer lifespans, are much more energy-efficient, generally, look better, and can perform a wider range of functions. If you have never purchased lights before and are just getting started on your first display, LED Christmas lights will certainly be your best bet.


In this article, we will discuss what to do when you begin experiencing problems with your Christmas lights. In many cases, you will not need to purchase new lights, but will simply need to make a few changes. By understanding how to properly care for your lights and make adjustments when needed, you will be able to expand the life of your lights and continue creating beautiful displays for many years to come.


Distinguishing LED Lights from Incandescent Lights

Before you begin making any changes to your Christmas display, you will need to determine which kinds of lights you are currently working with. As a general rule of thumb, if your lights were purchased in the last five years, they are probably LED Christmas lights. However, this is not always the case. Usually, LED lights will have a much whiter light (even if the bulbs are tinted) than the yellowish lights of years past. Furthermore, LED lights will also more frequently have a plastic bulb, rather than a thick glass bulb. If you are still unsure what type of lights you currently own, consider speaking with your local Christmas lighting expert.


What to Do if One Christmas Light is Out, but Others are On

There are quite a few reasons why a Christmas light might be out. In many cases, this simply means that a bulb needs to be replaced. But in other cases, there could be something wrong with the structure of the light itself. If replacing the bulb does not cause the light to go back on, there is something wrong with the wiring, which requires a much more complicated fix. Unless you are able to do this complicated fix yourself, you will either need to just accept that one of the bulbs is out or purchase a new light.


What to Do if Half or a Large Portion of Christmas Lights are Out

In some cases, a loose or broken bulb can cause all of the other nearby bulbs to turn off as well. To fix this issue, test each bulb one by one, seeing if it wiggles and re-screwing the bulbs in, as needed. Bulbs that flicker when the cord is being wiggled are usually the ones that are broken. Once you have identified the problematic bulb(s), replace the bulb and see if the rest of the string turns back on.


What to Do if Your Christmas Lights are Flickering (When They’re Not Supposed to Be)

Flickering lights are usually caused by bulbs being screwed in too loosely or by problems with the internal wiring. When the flickering is caused by a loose bulb, this will be an easy fix that can be corrected by following the steps mentioned directly above. If there is a problem with the wiring, you will likely need to replace the whole string altogether. Though this will create a bit of financial pain, you can still save the non-damaged bulbs and store them for future use. Additionally, most Christmas light suppliers will offer strings without bulbs at a discounted price. If you are willing to go through the hassle of unscrewing and transferring all bulbs, you will be able to save some money.


What to Do if Your Christmas Lights are Not Turning On, At All

If you plug your lights into the socket and they do not turn on, the first thing you will need to do is identify whether the issue is with the lights or with the socket you are using. To do this, choose a plug-in that you know works for sure (your phone charger will do just fine) and see if it is compatible with the suspect outlet.


If the other plug ends up working, that means there is a problem with the string of lights. One of the most common causes of this is a bad fuse. To replace a fuse (which is located inside the box-like part being plugged into the wall), use a screwdriver to open the fuse box and then carefully remove the fuse that is already there (usually, there will be two fuses). Then, take the new fuses you have purchased from your Christmas light supplier (they can also be found at most hardware stores) and place the new fuses in the exact same position as the old ones. Once you are done with this, put the cover back on.


Be very careful when replacing the fuse—make sure your hands are not even a little bit wet. If, after attempting to replace the fuse, the lights still do not turn on, run through the string and retighten all lights. If the lights are still not responding, then your string might be completely “dead” and will need to be replaced. This can be caused by excessive water damage, tearing, exposure to extreme elements (multiple days in a row below zero degrees), animals (particularly squirrels), and many other causes. While Christmas lights are generally built to withstand quite a lot, some lights—particularly older lights—can still be damaged on occasion.


Other Tips for Better Christmas Lights

As suggested, the best way to have a Christmas display that requires very little maintenance is to purchase new LED Christmas lights. Though they are the most expensive at first, these lights have the longest lifespans and lowest operating costs of any lights that are currently available.


If you are not ready to make the transition to LED lighting, you can replace old strings of incandescent lights with LED “replacement bulbs” as they begin to burn out. While this can be tedious, it is indeed a valid option.


Lastly, one of the most common issues with Christmas lights is that they are impossibly tangled. To prevent this, use a light spool (which may have come with the lights) or even an ordinary clothes hanger to help keep them organized. Preventing tangles can also help you avoid many of the issues mentioned above.


Conclusion – Fixing Broken Christmas Lights

In order to make your holidays as carefree and joyous as they can possibly be, it will be crucial to do everything you can to properly care for your Christmas lights. By following the instructions and steps included in this list, you can keep your Christmas lights running and build the display of your dreams.