How to Fix Broken Christmas Lights: An Easy DIY Checklist

Nothing is more frustrating than untangling your holiday lights and painstakingly wrapping them around the tree, only to discover when you plug them in that…there are lights (or whole strands) that aren’t working. If there’s a light on your tree that won’t light on one side, don’t send it back to the Grinch’s workshop. Use this checklist to learn how to fix broken Christmas lights.

How to Fix Broken Christmas Lights

If a whole strand of lights isn’t working…

1. Test the outlet.

If the whole strand isn’t lighting up, the problem might be the outlet, not the lights. Use a circuit tester to check whether the outlet you’re using to plug in the lights is “hot” (has power). If the outlet is dead, head over to this blog post on 5 easy steps to fix your broken outlet.

2. Check the fuse box or electrical panel.

After you’ve confirmed that the outlet is working, head downstairs to the basement to check your fuse box or electrical panel (not sure which is which? check out this post). Look to see whether there are any blown fuses or tripped circuits. If there are, replace the fuse or reset the circuit breaker.

RELATED: How to Prevent Circuit Overload from Christmas Lights

If just one light is burnt out…

1. Locate the light.

Christmas light bulbs are notorious troublemakers. Locate the bad bulb, then while you’re at it, make sure there are no other pranksters on the strand.

2. Secure the sockets.

Sometimes the bulbs on a strand of mini lights don’t light up because they have come loose in their sockets. Screw them back in until they are snug and secure.

3. Replace missing bulbs.

Most packs of mini lights come with a couple replacement bulbs for these situations. Replace the bulbs and test the strands again.

4. Look for frayed wires.

Most people store out of season holidays lights in their garage, basement, or attic—all locations where critters may find their way into the box to chew on the wires. Check your strands for signs of fraying or damage. If you do find damage, throw out the strand. Damaged strands of Christmas lights are a fire hazard.

5. Inspect the fuses in the lights.

Christmas lights are wired with their own circuits and fuses that, if blown, will prevent the strand from lighting up. Incandescent mini lights are wired with series circuits, which require the current to pass through each individual bulb in order to flow through the complete circuit and illuminate the entire strand. If one bulb is blown, a section of the strand will be dark. You will need to use a bulb testing tool in order to check for bad bulbs. Once you identify the culprit, replacing the bulb should solve the problem.

To save yourself the frustration of plugging in your lights for the grand tree lighting reveal only to have only half the tree light up, inspect your lights before you even put them up. It’s still a nuisance, but at least you won’t have to go through the extra bother of pulling them back off the tree before you get down to business figuring out how to fix broken Christmas lights.

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