How to Fix a String of Christmas Lights?

The festive season is approaching, but there’s one-holiday tradition I’m hoping to avoid this year: dealing with burned-out Christmas lights.

Every year about this time, I unpack, untangle, and plug in the previous year’s small lights, only to find that they don’t work. Individual lights may be burned out, but the entire string may appear to be dead. Is it worth keeping these lights, or should I just dump them and get new ones?

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I confess that diagnosing and repairing Christmas lights can be irritating, but most defective light strings can be repaired with a little determination and a few specialised tools.

Have you ever fixed Christmas lights yourself?

How to Fix Christmas Lights

1. Diagnose the problem.

Before inserting each string of lights into an outlet, inspect it thoroughly. Discard the string if it has cracked or cut insulation, frayed or bare wires, or damaged plugs.

Determine whether the malfunction is caused by a defective bulb or something else. If it’s a smaller light set, it’s probably wired in series, which means that the electrical current goes through each individual bulb to complete the circuit and illuminate the entire set.

Larger light sets frequently feature two or more parallel circuits, which explains why only a part of the string goes dark at times. In most circumstances, simply replacing one damaged bulb can fix the entire set or a piece of it that has become dark.

2. Find the bad bulb, and swap it out.

Finding the one faulty bulb that’s causing the issue can be difficult. Using an electrician’s multimeter or a gadget specifically developed for repairing Christmas lights, such as the Lightkeeper Pro, is the best option. In one compact tool, it incorporates a voltage detector, bulb remover, bulb and fuse testers, and shunt repairer.

By just connecting the lights to an electrical outlet, you may be able to identify the bad bulb. If you’re lucky, the supposedly defective bulb isn’t actually defective. It could just be loose and has to be firmly forced into its socket.

Remove the bulb and examine the two tiny wires that protrude from its base. They should be securely fastened and not in contact with one another. Furthermore, each wire should be positioned flush against the bulb’s outside. The wires complete the electrical connection when you replace the bulb in its socket.

You can also use a multimeter or the LightKeeper Pro to test the bulb. Replace the bulb with a new one if it becomes burned out or damaged. Just make sure it’s the right voltage otherwise the entire light set could be ruined.

3. Fix the faulty filament or shunt.

A damaged filament or a malfunctioning shunt could be the cause of all or part of a string of lights going dark. (A shunt is a device that permits electricity to pass across a circuit by establishing a lower resistance channel than the original path.) Shunts are small wires wrapped beneath the filament in incandescent Christmas lights.)

When a bulb’s filament breaks, the shunt reroutes current via the bulb’s base, keeping the electrical circuit intact. A malfunctioning shunt may appear to be a catastrophic failure, but the LightKeeper Pro can often fix it.

Simply connect the light strand and unplug any bulbs that are in or near the dark area. Then, to activate a piezo circuit, insert the tool into the bulb’s socket and push the trigger. A high-energy pulse will be sent through the set, and any malfunctioning shunts should be re-activated after around 20 pulses. Isn’t it amazing?
Use a voltage detector if you’re still having difficulties finding the broken circuit. One can be purchased for around $10, but one is also included with the LightKeeper Pro.

4. Replace the fried fuse.

There’s one more thing to try if the voltage detector doesn’t uncover anything wrong: On the male end of the plug, look for a little fuse hidden behind a small sliding door. Replace the fuse with a new one of the same amperage, which should be marked on the plug, if the fuse is fried (you can check it with the LightKeeper Pro). If the light string still does not glow after all of the testings, it’s time to acquire some new lights.

5. Upgrade your lights.

Upgrade to LED Christmas lights if you’re purchasing new lights. LEDs have a number of advantages over incandescent bulbs that make them an excellent choice. They use less energy, last longer, and can be programmed to display a variety of colours and patterns. LED lights are also more durable than traditional bulbs and are less prone to break. Here are some of our favourite indoor and outdoor string Christmas lights.

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