Ah, the day after Thanksgiving - time to prepare for the next holiday. It's the traditional start of Christmas decorating (although we know that some have gotten an early start).  We know that the mild weather we're having here in the Twin Cities means many of you are getting outdoors to put up your holiday lights. But you need to take extra care whenever you're mounting things on the exterior of your home to avoid damaging components like siding and roofing.  Putting up lights at the roof edge sometimes can cause problems with gutters and even roofing. Perhaps you're taking advantage of an extra day off work today or maybe you've got your project planned for the weekend.  Regardless of when you're getting your lights and other decorations up, these tips should help you get it done efficiently and safely.

Tips for Exterior Christmas Decorating

  • The first thing to do is enlist a helper.  Whenever you're working outdoors on something that might involve a ladder, it's a good idea to have another person with you.
  • Next, check your ladder to make sure it's working right.  Falls from ladders are common this time of year, and ensuring yours is in good order is a good way to start.
  • Plug in ALL your lights indoors and check them before you go outside.  Why?  Well, it's warmer in there for one thing!  And checking lights before you put them up will eliminate frustration down the line.  Also make sure you're using lights rated for outdoor use.
  • Make sure any of your extension cords are rated for outdoor use.  And check the cords first before using them.  Look for damaged areas.
  • Assemble everything you're going to need in one place.
  • Please don't screw, staple or nail anything into your roof edge or fascia board to hang lights.  There are a variety of clips made for this purpose.  Using a fastener that might penetrate your roof or gutters is a sure way to create problems later on.  By using mounting accessories made just for no-damage light installation you'll be avoiding trouble.  You can even purchase lights (like those shown above) that have built-in plastic clips that allow you to put them on the edge of your roofing or gutters without causing damage.
  • Grab a batch of plastic zip ties - they work well for installing lights on areas like railings or deck spindles.
  • We don't recommend getting up on the roof to mount decorations, especially if it's heavy.  We know you just adore that loaded Santa sleigh you got on clearance the day after Christmas last year, but a better place for it might be in your yard and not up on your roof.  First of all, a roof in winter can be a dangerous place to be. Secondly, anything you put up in the roof needs to be secured, and that could compromise your roof.
By the way, as you're hanging lights from your gutters with the plastic clips designed just for this purpose, if you haven't already cleared the debris out of your gutters, this is a good time to do it.  Clogged gutters can mean ice dam formation later on this winter, and not only could that ice destroy all your creative lighting work but also cause damage to your roof. 

Quarve Contracting, Inc. is a licensed Minnesota roofing company, and we'd really love to avoid emergency roof repairs this winter because of improper holiday light installation.  Go ahead and decorate, but please do it safely!