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How to Fix a Broken String of Christmas Lights

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How to Fix a Broken String of Christmas Lights


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Photo: amipi (Shutterstock)



Generally speaking, technology is improving all the time. And yet, strings of holiday lights—whether they’re for an indoor tree, or the outside of a house—never seem to get better. Sure, there are different varieties, but the same problems seem to pop up year after year.

While it may be tempting to simply grab a new string of lights every time something goes wrong, that creates a lot of unnecessary waste. Plus, there’s no guarantee that the next string will fare any better.

So, if decorating with lights on a string is important to you, it’s best to be familiar with a few ways to repair them. Tom Scalisi walks us through some in an article for Here are a few to try.

Find the bad bulb

If you plug in a string of lights and nothing turns on, Scalisi says that it might be caused by one—yes, one—burnt-out bulb. He suggests using a multimeter (a digital testing tool used to measure two or more electrical values) to figure out where the current is interrupted, and then replacing the offending bulb. You can get a pack of replacement bulbs at any hardware store or similar retailer.

Replace the fuse

Most new packs of Christmas lights come with a replacement fuse—which should give you a clue as to how common fuse problems are with these things. A blown fuse also causes the entire string to stop working. If you’ve already checked for bad bulbs, and don’t have a replacement fuse for your lights, you should be able to find them at a hardware store, or the usual online retailers.

Here’s Scalisi to explain how to change the fuse:

The fuses hide in the male-side plug behind a small sliding door. First, unplug the string of lights completely. Then simply slide open the little door on the plug, carefully remove the old fuse with a small screwdriver, and then insert the new one.

Get a splitter

According to Scalisi, another reason why Christmas lights don’t stay on is that you’ve connected so many strings together that it overwhelmed your electrical outlet. If you don’t have the option of dividing the lights among two or more outlets, Scalisi suggests using a splitter: an accessory that evenly distributes electrical current, allowing you to add more strings to your festive lighting display and safely plug them into one outlet.

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