How to Properly Hang Christmas Lights From Your Roof

Outdoor Christmas lights hanging from a roof.

Hanging roof Christmas lights marks the beginning of the holiday season for many of us. But if you're not careful, this job can end the festivities in a hurry. During November and December, an average of about 250 people are injured per day from decorating-related falls and accidents, estimates the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Careful planning can keep you from being one of them.

Plan your Decoration Design

Spontaneously climbing up a ladder with a fistful of Christmas lights isn't a smart plan. At best, you'll end up with messy design; at worst, you'll get so frustrated and tangled that you'll fall. Measure the front of your house to get an estimate of your roof's width, then draw out a design plan and figure out how many strings of lights you'll need to complete it.

Gather Decorating Materials

Use only lights that are made for outdoor use. These lights are weatherproof, so rain and wind won't damage them or cause them to short out. Inspect all strands thoroughly and discard any strands that show signs of fraying. Test all lights before taking them up to your roof.Never attach lights with staples, nails, glue guns, or other permanent fixtures, because they can damage your roof. Instead, use light clips. They're made for just this purpose and they're easy to attach and remove from the roof without causing damage. They attach to gutters and shingles. You can also buy clips designed for use on clay tiles.

Safety First

If your home is more than a single story, or if your design plans are so elaborate you have to get up onto your roof to fulfill them, consider investing in a safety harness. You can buy an affordable version from a home improvement store which will keep you from getting hurt if you slip. Always have a spotter on the ground while you're decorating.

Hanging the Lights

Hang your lights early in the morning or late in the afternoon, when your roof will be cool. You'll need to find a grounded outlet to power the lights. Unless you don't mind seeing a string of lights running up the corner of your house, you'll need to run extension cords from the outlet to the corner of your roof.While your spotter holds the ladder steady, climb up and start attaching the light clips and lights to the section of your roof within your reach. Climb down, reposition the ladder, grab some more clips, and continue the process. Whenever you connect two strands of lights, wrap the connection with duct tape to keep moisture out. Once your lights are safely hung up, be ready to plug your lights in and have the nicest display on the block.

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