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Hanging Outdoor Lights? Also Do a Home Inspection

Owners rarely study the outside of their home, but hanging lights presents an opportunity. How’s the roof? Any foundation cracks? Electric working correctly?

NEW YORK – Holiday decorating is in full swing, and as homeowners deck their halls, they can also use the festivities as an excuse to inspect several out-of-sight areas. Groundworks, a basement and foundations firm, offers tips for spotting needed repairs while hanging holiday decor. Here are the top seven home issues they suggest checking:

  1. Electrical outlets: Is a plug no longer working? Outdoor outlets are exposed to the elements and can become damaged. A ground fault circuit interrupter may have been tripped. Take precautions if you find any loose connections or exposed wiring.
  1. Circuit breakers: While installing an outdoor light display, homeowners may discover problems with the home’s electrical system or circuit breaker box. “Some homeowners may only check out their electrical panel if they accidentally throw a breaker,” GroundWorks says. “However, proactive homeowners may want to look at their breaker box before installing holiday lights. You may discover that you need a diagram of which circuits are connected to which outlets or appliances. This can help avoid overloading a single circuit.” LED Christmas lights tend to use less electricity and may help avoid blown fuses.
  1. Overgrown shrubs: Plants should be about two feet from a house to protect the foundation. Tend to any overgrown plants while hanging holiday lights, or make a note on your calendar to do so in March or April. “If you have overgrown evergreens, you can also give them a light trim around the holidays and use that greenery for home decorations,” Groundworks says.
  1. The roof and gutters: If you’re on a ladder to hang Christmas lights, look at the roof and gutters. Are the gutters clogged? Is rainwater pooling next to the foundation? Are any shingles missing on the roof? Spot existing damage and avoid creating more problems by using light clips on the edge of your gutter while hanging Christmas lights.
  1. Chimney: Take a close look at the chimney. Does it look like it’s tilting or starting to separate from the house? This could be a sign of foundation issues. To test it, hold a string with a small weight from the top edge of the house. The string will always fall straight down. Compare that to the structure to determine whether there is a tilt to any portion of the home, including the chimney. A tilting chimney may show a visible gap where it is pulling away from the remainder of the house, Groundworks says. A foundation expert may need to identify the problems and explore the best ways to fix them.
  1. Pest damage: “Along the eaves, you could find woodpecker holes or wasp nests,” Groundworks says. “Where the house meets the ground, you could find signs of termites or ants.”
  1. Siding damage or wood rot: Look for signs of deterioration, damage or wood rot on siding or window frames. If you find any, your home could be vulnerable to water damage. “In the warmer months, your home could be unprotected from heavy rains, resulting in flooding or moisture in your basement or crawl space,” Groundworks warns.

Source: “Top 7 Home Issues You Can Find While Hanging Holiday Lights,” GroundWorks (2021)

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