How to Fix and Replace Christmas Lights, String Lights

by Vlen Feng
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How to Fix and Replace Christmas Lights, String Lights

Burned-out holiday lights, even the cheap kind, are often fixable with a small investment of time and money. Thankfully, it’s not too hard to fix Christmas lights. Here is step by step guide on how to fix Christmas Lights or String Lights.

Troubleshooting Christmas Lights

  Before you can repair Christmas lights, you’ll need to identify the problem with them first. There are lots of different ways lights can break.

  1.   If the entire chain is non-functional, a blown fuse could be the culprit.
  2. If a section of the light string isn’t working, there might be a bad bulb or a bad connection between the bulb and the socket (like a corroded socket).
  3.   If replacing the bulb doesn’t work, it might be a bad socket or broken wiring that needs to be removed. 


The string of lights won’t light up

Possible culprit: A blown fuse

How to fix:

First, slide back the plastic covering on the plug to check the Christmas light fuse. Some Christmas light strings have more than one fuse, in which case they'll be next to each other. Replace any blown Christmas light fuses. New Christmas light fuses are available where Christmas lights are sold and at some electronics stores.



Bulb won’t work or a section of the string won’t work

Possible culprit: A bad bulb.

How to replace a light bulb:

Gently grasp each bulb, and pull away from the socket. Once removed, inspect the bottom of the bulb and ensure that the two bulb copper leads are in their proper location (see picture below), and not twisted or missing. (You can also test bulbs for continuity with a multimeter.) Where you find a problem bulb, replace it with a new one. Continue with each non-functional bulb in the chain, up until you find the culprit(s). 

 fix broken bulb


A bulb or section is still not working

Possible culprit: Bad socket or wiring around a single bulb.

If all else fails, the bulb socket may be broken beyond repair. Removing it isn’t too complicated though, and should restore functionality to the rest of your lights!

How to fix:

Using a wire connector: Use a wire cutter to remove the defective socket from the light strand. Strip about 1/2″ of insulation from both wires. Twist the wires together and insert them into a waterproof wire connector. Turn the connector several times until the cap feels secure, and you can tug on it without it falling off. If replacing the bad socket fixed the problem, consider putting in some silicone sealant into the cap in order to keep moisture out and prevent the wires from corroding. 



 A Final Note

 Keep in mind that inexpensive strings of lights aren't durable. At the end of the holiday season, take down the lights with care. Don't pull too hard on the wires. A loose bulb, broken socket or frayed wire is sometimes all it takes for the strand to malfunction.

After taking down the lights, plug them in before storing them, to make sure they still work. Then carefully wrap the lights in their original or similar containers, making sure the bulbs don't bang together. Proper storage is key to their continued success. Wadding them up in a coil and stuffing them into a box will almost guarantee they won't work next year.

Also be aware that most holiday light bulbs have short life expectancies, about 1,000 to 1,500 hours. This means the lights are designed to last one to three seasons, depending on your usage. Newer style LED (light-emitting diode) lights are the exception. They can last 10 times longer than traditional lights.


by Vlen Feng


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