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Common Mistakes People Make When Hanging Holiday Lights

The holidays are nearly here, and that means it’s only a matter of time before you’re breaking out your holiday house lights to decorate your home and yard with festive cheer that’s colorful, bright, and joyful. However, before you get the ladder out to start your decorating spree, it’s important stop and consider the following. Every year we get far too many calls from customers who suddenly discover roof leaks, and upon inspection we have to be the ones to tell them that the leak was their fault. Turns out the way they hung their holiday lights was a mistake, and actually created a leak in their roof that they’re now dealing with.

While holiday lights are a festive and beautiful tradition, the last thing we as Colorado Springs Roofers want you to deal with is an untimely leak when your roof is being pelted with snow, ice, and freezing rain of a Colorado winter. To help you avoid this hazard, here are a few tips for how to hang your lights properly and avoid some of the costliest mistakes that people make far too often at this time of the year, potentially causing permanent damage to their roof.

Don’t Use Nails or Staples

One of the most memorable scenes from the film National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation involves Chevy Chase’s character Clark Griswold heading out onto his roof with a staple gun to tack down lights in an attempt to out-do his neighbors. While the scene quickly turns into a lesson about why it’s not safe to walk on your roof, especially in icy conditions, there’s something else to learn from Clark’s debacle: do not staple lights to your roof.

Putting staples into your roof creates holes into both the top surface of your roof as well as the underlayment and decking below. Staples and nails are not water-tight, and that means melting rain or snow can and will seep into these holes, creating serious leaks. Leaks cause issues like wood rot, mold, mildew, and all sorts of other issues, which is a high price to pay for simply trying to decorate your home. And let’s not forget other consequences as well: stapling through the wire shielding on one of these strings of lights could cause sparks or even an electrical fire.

Anticipate Ice Dams & Water Runoff

Colorado winters are not known for being dry—snow, rain, and ice are both fairly common, and any decorations you put up in your yard need to be able to withstand exposure to moisture safely. One of the absolute worst things you could do during the holiday season is buy decorations which are not rated for outdoor use. Be sure to read the package on any decorations you buy in order to make sure they’re safe for use outside and make sure you put them on a circuit that’s equipped with a ground-fault circuit interrupter which can shut off if there’s a short in the string and prevent a potential fire.

Likewise, it’s important to mount your lights where they won’t be impacted by the snow and ice runoff that can build up on your roof. Home improvement and hardware stores will soon be stocking plastic holiday light clips that simply latch on to the surface of your roof, without penetrating through it or in any way compromising your roof’s water-tight properties. The best part is clips exist for nearly any roof surface or needs: all-in-one clips for shingles and gutters, clay tile clips, and even clips for mounting lights on your eaves.

Don’t Walk On Your Roof

Remember what happened with Clark Griswold in an earlier tip? Remember how he slipped and fell from his roof, sending an icicle flying through his neighbor’s window while narrowly avoiding getting seriously injured? There’s an easy way to avoid a similar, or perhaps worse fate: don’t walk on our roof.

You’ll probably see your neighbors fixing light-up Santa Claus decorations, snowmen, or all sorts of other things, to their roof, but unless the decorations are mounted where they can be easily reached from a ladder, they’re going to have to walk up there, and that can be exceedingly dangerous. Falling from your roof can cause serious injury, and that’s not something anyone wants to deal with at this time of year.

Foot traffic can also damage your roof. Even though your roof is designed to protect you from the elements, foot traffic can cause torn shingles, material cracking, or even make clay tiles shatter under the weight. You’ll need to quickly repair any damage from foot traffic in order to prevent a potentially serious roof leak from appearing and causing serious problems for your roof.

Happy holidays from all of us here at Divine Roofing! If you need a repair this season, give our Colorado Springs roofers a call at (719) 497-1005 to schedule your appointment.
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