Cold wind blows off the peaks of the Rocky Mountains. Snow falls more regularly, dusting the towns with white. The excitement begins to build after the Thanksgiving holiday as everyone discusses what they are thankful for and their plans to celebrate Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanza, and the New Year. The first step for many people around Colorado Springs and the surrounding areas is to hang Christmas lights. These tiny lights help spread joy throughout this holiday season and draw people's attention directly to your roof. While we love the lights and this time of year in general, many homeowners fail to account for their roof's health while hanging lights. Hennessey Roofing wants to ensure you hang your lights safely for you and your roof. We often get asked, "Can hanging Christmas lights damage my roof?" Read on to learn the answer and about key safety concerns while decorating this holiday season!
Can Hanging Christmas Lights Damage My Roof?
If done properly, hanging Christmas lights can be done without damaging your roof. However, many homeowners don't properly hang their lights for the holiday season and inadvertently damage one of their biggest investments. The unfortunate truth says that more ways exist to hang your lights incorrectly, than correctly. That being said, many homeowners and commercial businesses manage to create beautiful displays year after year without damaging their roofs. The most important thing to consider regarding your roof when hanging your lights is the type of roof that you have and getting the right clips for the job. Several stores, online and brick and mortar, that sell Christmas light clips for all different types of roofs. Whether you have an asphalt shingle roof, tile roof, metal roof, or anything else, make sure to use the proper clips when hanging lights.
You should absolutely never nail, staple, or otherwise puncture your roof to hang your lights.
These types of punctures, no matter how small, create opportunities for water to leak into the structure of the roof and into your home. Small holes from staples or small nails often go unnoticed by the homeowner but can cause thousands of dollars in repair down the road. Some homeowners ask about screwing hooks into their gutters. This is also a mistake. Gutters are designed to redirect water from your roof away from your walls and foundation. Putting holes in your gutters can create drainage problems as well as damage the gutters and make them unsightly and in need of replacing down the road. The same goes for nailing into your fascia or soffits to hang Christmas Lights. This, again, creates places for water to enter the structure of the roof and cause rot and mold damage.
If you decide to hang permanent hooks for your Christmas lights, our experts recommend using silicone or another form of sealant around every puncture in the fascia or the soffit. This will help keep the water out of the structural components of the roof and keep rot and mold out of your roof.
Safety While Hanging Christmas Lights
The primary focus while hanging holiday decorations should be safety. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission report in 2018, nearly 240 homeowners per day between November and December required trips to the hospital due to holiday decorating injuries. This happens because homeowners often are not trained to use ladders and only pull them out once a year. Ladders require maintenance and a proper safety inspection regularly to be deemed "safe" to use. Also, using ladders during wet or icy conditions increases the likelihood of an accident.
Some homeowners enjoy decorating the peaks of their roofs as well. This requires the homeowner to climb and walk on their roof. If not done properly, this can not only damage the roofing material but further increases the chances of a fall. Tile and metal roofs are particularly slippery from sitting outside and collecting fine dust particles that make traction with regular tennis-shoes very difficult. Slips, trips, and falls make up the largest percentage of job-site accidents in construction. These numbers increase when non-construction workers are involved because they aren't trained in proper safety procedures. For example, many homeowners do not use a safety harness while on top of their roof. These harnesses are designed to keep you from falling from the roof and sustaining serious injuries.
Tips for Hanging Christmas Lights Safely
Inspect your ladder prior to climbing on it. Look for cracks, loose hinges, broken rungs, etc.
Ensure the area where the ladder will be set up is clear of all debris and level for the ladder feet.
The angle of the ladder should be determined by the length of your arms. Standing straight, extend your arms fully to grab the rungs. If your arms aren't fully extended, the ladder angle is incorrect and unsafe.
Always maintain at least three points of contact while climbing the ladder.
If you must climb on your roof, always use a spotter and a harness to protect you in case of a fall.
If you feel unsafe, you should stop and ask a professional for help.
Summary - Christmas Lights Can Damage Your Roof When Installed Improperly
We understand the desire to decorate for the holidays. We also enjoy seeing the beautiful lights. This article was written to help homeowners with the common question, "can Christmas lights damage my roof?" We also identify potential safety risks while hanging their lights. We enjoy seeing our customers, but it breaks our hearts to see homeowners pay for repairs that they inadvertently caused themselves. It's even more devastating when we learn of an accident from a homeowner. This year, we encourage you to decorate with the protection of your roof and your self in mind. As always, contact us for any questions and for repairs, new roof installations, commercial roofing, any other roofing needs.