Hanging Holiday Lights on the Roof: Tips for Doing it Yourself

With the winter holiday season around the corner, homeowners are digging out their strings of lights from storage so they can decorate the house exterior. Hanging outdoor holiday lights has been a tradition for millions of people in the US for decades. Over the years, displays have become increasingly elaborate, encouraging competition between neighbors and neighborhoods. In general, though, these cheerful displays of lights brighten up the night and put everyone in a festive mood.

The last thing you want to do when you’re hanging holiday lights is to harm your roof. Unfortunately, you could be doing so unknowingly. Keep the merriment of the season going by following some tips below that’ll help minimize roof damage.

  • Use plastic light clips. Plastic clips, hooks and hangers are designed for outdoor use. They secure strings of lights without harming the roof trim or surface in the process. Clips are super easy to use – just attach them to gutters or the edge of shingles. When the season’s over, gently remove them and store them away to be used next year. All you really need is a couple packs of all-in-one clips from your local hardware store.
  • Never use staples, nails, screws or tacks. All of these put unnecessary stress on roofing material like shingles, possibly tearing or ripping them. If not removed, they stay in place and corrode. And if removed, they leave permanent holes. These holes, even very small ones, become bigger over time and can lead to leaks. If undetected, leaks result in serious long-term damage, including mold, destroyed insulation and rotting rafters.

  • Double check all extension cords. These electrical extension cords should be heavy duty, certified for outdoor use and in good condition. Look them over, and if they’re frayed or have exposed wires, throw them away and get new ones. The last thing you want during the festive season is to have an electrical fire on your roof.

  • Avoid getting on the roof. In general, climbing on a roof isn’t a good idea because things can go terribly – even tragically – wrong in an instant, especially if you misstep. Instead, use a ladder or a light-hanging pole that extend from the ground to the roofline.

If you must get on the roof to install lights or fixtures on the slope or at the top, take these extra precautions for the safety of roofing materials and for your own self:

– Wear proper footwear. Shoes should have slip-resistant soles to provide traction. Be aware of loose granules, debris and sections of the roof that show no visible signs of damage but are rotted underneath – you could step right through them!
– Walk in the valleys or on the ridges. These are the safest places to step. Shingles are very susceptible to pressure, so avoid the center where they’re fragile.
– Do it before the weather turns wet and cold. Never get up on a wet, snowy or icy roof. It’s extremely dangerous, where one false move can have serious, long-lasting consequences. Consider a safety harness with a roof anchor for protection from falls.

These tips for stringing lights can be followed any time of the year. For example, re-use the plastic clips to light up the backyard patio during a summertime party. Just remember that the goal is to minimize harm to the roof.

Contact Your Roofing Professionals if you Notice Damage

Homeowners get a lot of enjoyment out of stringing lights around their house themselves. It gives them pride and a sense of accomplishment, not to mention a wonderful visual way to celebrate the holiday season.

Hopefully, with our list of helpful tips, you can avoid making new issues as you decorate your house. But, if you see old damage, such as ripped shingles, cracks or bruises from hail impact, be sure to have your roof inspected right away from the specialists at Ashco Exteriors. We offer a free 7-point roof inspection that addresses issues needing immediate attention and evaluates the overall health of your roof. Contact us today!