One factor that contributes most to the atmosphere of the holiday season is Christmas decorations. Homeowners across the country decorate the insides and outsides of their homes with dazzling displays of lights and familiar Christmas characters, helping to create the Christmas cheer that makes the holiday season one of the most cherished times of the year.
While the Christmas season is almost guaranteed to leave a bit of a hole in your wallet, we want to make sure it’s not leaving any holes in your roofing system! There’s nothing you can do about Santa and his reindeers prancing about on your roof, but if you follow these tips for hanging Christmas decorations on the outside of your home, you’ll prevent unnecessary damage to your roofing system, keep your home looking and performing great well after the Christmas decorations come down for the season, and stay safe throughout the process.
Preparation and Safety
As with most things, preparation is the key to success. Not only will this save you time, but it creates a safer and more efficient work environment, limiting the chance for accidents to occur. Here’s a few things you can do before you even take your ladder out of the garage or shed to make holiday decorating a little easier.
Inspect Your Christmas Lights
Whether buying new Christmas lights, or reusing old ones it’s always a good idea to check them before setting them up. If they are tangled, spend some time straightening them out first. Once you have your lights all straightened out, check for any tears or frays in the wires, as exposed wires increase the risk for electrical accidents or even fires. Finally, plug them in and check for individual lights or sections of lights that aren’t working, which can indicate burnt out bulbs, corroded sockets, or bad connections. Putting up your lights and plugging them in only to find they need to be repaired or replaced is frustrating to say the least.
Use the Proper Equipment
Tools are designed to make your life easier, but this only holds true when using the right tools for the job. The equipment you use to hang your Christmas lights may not be the heavy duty stuff you see on a construction site, but it’s still critically important to get it right. Keep these equipment tips in mind when taking your next trip to the hardware store.
- Extension Cords – Not all extension cords are created equal. When choosing your extension cord make sure you use ones that are rated for outdoor use, and a gauge that can safely draw the amount of amperage/wattage you need to power your lights. Remember, the length of the cord also impacts the recommended load, so follow a chart like this one to check if the cord you have will work for your setup. Just as with your Christmas lights, make sure to check for any damage to the extension cord.
- Ladders – Falls from ladders not only result in a high amount of injuries in the roofing industry, they also result in some of the most serious injuries for holiday decorators. Extension ladders, tall enough to extend at least 3 feet above the roof you’re working on, with a stabilizer to protect your gutters, will provide a safe standing platform to hang your Christmas lights, as well as safe access to your roof. Make sure you place the ladder feet on a firm, flat surface and test it for slippage before climbing. Keep in mind that ladders are also available for rent if you don’t own one that meets the above recommendations, as are lifts for roofs that you aren’t comfortable climbing with a ladder.
- Shingle & Gutter Clips – The number one tip we can give you for protecting your roof is this; DO NOT PUT HOLES IN YOUR ROOF! Even small holes from staples or nails provide access points for water to seep in and rot the decking of your roof. To avoid this, use snap on shingle & gutter clips from which you can hang your Christmas lights and decorations. A few additional tips that you should bear in mind, is making sure that your gutters are not sagging from the weight, and that when attaching the clips to the shingles, you do not damage the shingle in any way or peel it so far back you break the adhesive seal.
How To Avoid Holiday Season Wear & Tear On Your Roof
If you are planning on putting Christmas decorations on top of your roof, such as lighting the peaks, you will inevitably need to walk on your roof. While this is necessary for certain things, and a common practice for roof inspections, it’s important to limit the amount of time you spend walking on your roof, because the more you do so, the more granule loss will occur.
The granules attached to your shingles provide additional protection against the elements, and serve the important role of shielding the underlying asphalt and fiberglass from UV rays. With excessive granule loss, your shingles are more prone to damage such as disintegration, cracking, and rotting. If you do need to walk on your roof pay attention to the following tips:
- Wear soft rubber soled shoes with lots of tread – Not only will this protect your shingles from damage, they provide plenty of grip to keep you from slipping.
- Limit the walking area – Identify the quickest path from point A to point B and try to walk the same path each time. This will limit the area of granule loss, and make it easier to identify if excessive loss is occurring.
- Pay attention to protrusions – The ventilation on your roof comes in the form of protrusions such as pipe jacks, furnace vents, turtle vents, etc. Not only can these be potential tripping hazards, the soft aluminum is easy to damage if it’s accidently stepped on.
- Watch out for sagging decking – If you are walking on your roof and notice sagging or softness in a particular area, avoid that area. This could indicate rotting decking which creates the possibility of collapse. As rotting decking can lead to a host of costly damage, we recommend scheduling a roof inspection ASAP if you notice these symptoms.
- Avoid sharp objects on your shingles – Depending on what kind of Christmas decorations you’re installing, some tools may be required for assembly. Any sharp tools such as the claw end of a hammer, screwdrivers, etc. should be handled with care, and if screws are required, keep them somewhere safe like a tool belt to avoid stepping on them and driving them into the soft asphalt. And as we mentioned earlier, NEVER PUT HOLES IN YOUR ROOF!
Removing Your Christmas Decorations
While it may be tempting to leave your Christmas lights up all year after putting in the effort to set them up, at some point you’ll need to take them down until the next holiday season. Not only is this out of consideration for your neighbors, HOA’s often have rules against this, and Christmas lights are often designed for limited use. Exceeding the manufacturers recommendations can lead to wires and cords becoming damaged, as well as voided warranties. However, if you’re set on saving yourself some time and effort next season, a less obtrusive option is to leave the clips on.
When removing your Christmas lights, it’s important to use the least amount of force possible. Gently guide your lights out of the clips, and if you’re also removing the clips, use pliers to open stubborn clips rather than forcing them off the gutter or shingle. Your gutter system is designed with a specific pitch to help water flow to the downspouts, and if you damage the gutter, causing it to sag, water can eventually overflow leading to rot and leaks. If the clips are attached to your shingles, ripping them off can remove granules, break brittle shingles, or loosen shingles from the adhesive which can all lead to issues.
Happy Holidays From Brahma Roofing & Construction
Hopefully these tips will help you enjoy the holiday season without any post-Christmas regrets, at least when it comes to your roof! If you have any questions, notice any symptoms mentioned in the article while up on your roof, or want to ensure your roof is in good condition, schedule a free inspection with Brahma Roofing & Construction. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and enjoy your Christmas decorating experience!