Clark Griswold set a high bar when it comes to decorating your home with Christmas lights. Adding lights to your roof and gutters can create a dazzling display that will put you right in the holiday spirit. But it’s wise to put safety ahead of creativity and artistry, especially if you’re planning to live in your home after the holidays are over.

Christmas lights cause roughly 770 fires every year. They’re an electrical disaster waiting to happen if you do something wrong. Plus, they can compromise the integrity of your roof and gutters if you’re attaching them to your home.

How can you create the warm glow of the holidays safely? Use this guide of do’s and don’ts when installing Christmas lights outdoors.

Choose Outdoor-Rated Lights

The lights you hang on your Christmas tree or fireplace mantle are not the same lights that will adorn your house outside. Some holiday lights will be specifically rated for outdoor use. These are specially designed to withstand cold temperatures and wet conditions. Using indoor lights outside will quickly damage them, not to mention leave you vulnerable to electrical hazards.

Check Every Strand of Lights Before Hanging

Before you go through the trouble of hanging Christmas lights outside, check each strand for damage. Frayed wires and loose connections will need to be fixed before using your lights. Properly storing your lights each year can help reduce your chances of lights getting damaged between uses.

Do Not Nail Christmas Lights to Your Roof or Gutters

Clark Griswold showed us that all you need to decorate for Christmas are thousands of lights and a staple gun. What we didn’t see were the thousands of pinholes he left in the roof! A hole is still a hole, no matter how small. Stapling or nailing lights to your home’s roof or gutters will leave small holes behind, which makes your home more susceptible to water damage. Instead, it’s best to use light hooks that are purpose-made for Christmas lights. Command hooks with removable strips of adhesive are also a great option to help you avoid damaging your home.

Avoid Excess Weight

Lots of Christmas lights can be pretty, but try not to overdo any single area. Too much weight can put undue stress on your gutters, which might compromise their strength. When this happens, you may have to add gutter repair to your never-ending to-do list.

The same goes for the top of your roof. Santa’s sleigh might look nice up there, but don’t put too much added pressure on your roof.

Use Heavy-Duty Extension Cords

Just like holiday lights, some extension cords are specifically rated for outdoor use. This means the extension cord is designed to withstand harsher temperatures and moisture. Compare the extension cord’s wattage rating with your light’s power requirements to ensure you don’t overload your breaker. Otherwise, overheating and fires may occur.

Replace Broken Lights

Broken lights are a nuisance. But aside from being unsightly, they can also be dangerous. When one bulb burns out, the current for that bulb is distributed between the other bulbs. This may cause your other bulbs to strain, which can lead to faster burnout. Save the spare bulbs your lights came with so you can make quick replacements.

Don’t Connect Different Types of Lights

Got a collection of incandescent lights and LEDs? Do yourself a favor and keep them separate. Incandescent lights have greater power requirements, and connecting them with LEDs can cause your LEDs to fry.

Already made some of these mistakes? A few of these you can fix yourself. But when it comes to your roof and gutters, leave it to the pros. Schedule your free roof inspection today!