Gutters and Christmas Lights

One of the quickest ways to get your home in the mood for the holidays is Christmas lights. Use these tips to safely hang holiday lights from your gutter system this year.

Before You Begin

Play it safe – check that the ladder you will be using is in good working order. All the better if you have a helper whenever you’re on the ladder.

Check the gutters for damage. Repair anything that needs immediate attention. Remove any obvious clumps of debris from inside the gutters. Spot clean streaks and stains on the outside of the gutter section.

Take measurements. To save you a trip up the ladder, if the roof configuration is straightforward, measure around the base of the house. If the roofline has peaked eaves and gutters, you will need to measure them as well for an accurate total.

Take inventory – check strings for missing bulbs, broken bulbs and exposed or worn wires. Make sure the lights are approved for outdoor use. How many extension cords do you need? Will you use the ones from last year or do they need replacing?

Mapping it Out

It’s good to have a plan. Especially if you’re starting from scratch, knowing which outlets you’ll be using, how many strings of lights you’ll need, and how you want to hang the lights (vertical or horizontal), will help you visualize the end result.

Less is more – you might want to be the brightest on the block, but the combination of cabling and bulbs can add weight to gutters that might be damaging to older gutter systems.

Once you’ve decided how and how many, the answers will give you a clue as to what kind of lights clips will be best for your gutters and the effect you want to achieve – the bulb hangs down (vertical orientation) or the bulb hangs across (horizontal orientation).

If your home is large and you need to cover a lot of distance, you might need to calculate how much wattage the Christmas lights will be using.

Hanging the Lights

Attach a clip to the base of each light of the string in the direction (horizontal or vertical) they will hang once fastened to the gutters.

Which outlet will you be using? This is your starting point.

Select an extension cord long enough to reach from the power outlet to the edge of the gutters. Place it as close to the outlet as possible without plugging it in. Secure it temporarily so that it stays in place as you climb the ladder.

Attach your first light clip to the edge of the gutter.

Continue to clip each bulb to the gutter. Ensure the light string is taut; there should be little or no slack. Be prepared to reposition the ladder as you move along the gutter section. Avoid overreaching!

Plug the second light string into the first. Limit the number of strings of lights you plug together to three.

When you’ve come to the end of the gutter, run the remainder of the string down the side of the house. Secure it in place with the appropriate type of clip or duct tape. Do the same with the extension cord leading from the outlet to the roofline. If you need to remove the bulbs from the last strand of lights running down the side of the house, use light caps or electrical tape to cover the unused sockets.