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How Do You Maintain Outdoor Lighting?

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Like most outdoor fixtures and features, lights also require some maintenance. This guide explains why outdoor lighting maintenance is important and includes some valuable tips.

Why Is Outdoor Lighting Maintenance Important?

There are several reasons why maintenance is important. First, it is important for safety reasons. For example, in some cases, lighting plans are designed to provide ample illumination along a walking path. If a few of the lights along that path are not working, it may be easier to trip. A second reason why maintaining outdoor lights is important is to help them last longer. Improper or inadequate maintenance can lead to premature failure.

A third reason why maintenance is important is for aesthetic purposes. Lights that are not maintained may look unattractive during the day. At night, they may not function properly and can make your lighting look unbalanced or less appealing. When you maintain your lights well, you may also find smaller problems before they become costly repairs. In this way, maintenance can help you save money.

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Tips for Maintaining Outdoor Lighting

Fortunately, most outdoor lights are designed in a way that the maintenance demands are not too hefty. Most requirements are annual or semi-annual maintenance tasks. These are some of the most helpful tips to help maximize the life of your outdoor lights and keep them looking nice. If your outdoor lights are powered by electricity, please be sure to turn off the power source before you attempt to do any cleaning or light tasks.

Remove Debris Around Lights

Blowing leaves, debris and dirt can build up around the bases of outdoor lights. If debris builds up too much around the lights, it can contribute to corrosion, rust or other problems. For example, if it snows on accumulated leaves during the winter, there may be excess moisture trapped around the base as the snow melts. Also, leaves may even pile up enough that they cover some smaller lights outdoors and lead to insufficient lighting.

Trim Surrounding Vegetation

Some types of shrubs and plants grow quickly. While lights can enhance their appearance at night, it can be ineffective when overgrowth is a problem. Also, overgrowth can contribute to moisture problems with some types of lights. How often you need to check for plant overgrowth depends on the season and the types of plants you have outdoors. For instance, plants with rhizomatous rhizomes can spread aggressively during the growing season and require more attention.

Look for Moisture Issues

It can be easy to overlook moisture issues unless you deliberately inspect for them. Excess moisture can be problematic on interior or exterior surfaces of lights and to the cords or wires around them. For example, moisture can build up on the inside of a light with a loose lens. Moisture dulls the appearance of the lens and internal reflectors.

Another potential problem with moisture is fungal growth. Mold and mildew can grow on lights and lighting components. Fungal risks may depend on the surroundings. For example, if lights or exposed cords are next to plants that are watered often, they may be more prone to mold growth. Clean away any mold or mildew from exterior lights and their components every year.

Clean Exterior Surfaces

Blowing dirt and debris can leave the exterior surfaces of lights looking dull or dusty. It helps to clean them thoroughly two or three times each year. Also, wipe them off after any dust storms or when you notice they look dirty between cleanings.

Check for External Damage

Lawn mowers, weed trimmers, pets and storms can sometimes damage outdoor lights or components. Call a professional if electrical lights are damaged. They know how to safely inspect lights or components and replace them if necessary. Some types of damage-related problems can present hazards, which is why it is important to address any issues promptly.

Check for Internal Damage

Without touching the lights, visually inspect them through the lenses to see if there are signs of damage inside. Make a note of any concerns to tell a professional. A professional can determine if the light needs to be replaced or if it can be fixed.

Cleaning exterior lighting

Clean Lenses and Internal Reflectors

A couple times each year, it helps to clean behind a light’s lens in addition to cleaning the exterior surface of it. Some types of outdoor lights may be more difficult to clean than others. Internal reflectors are the parts that surround the bulbs. They help reflect light to make it brighter and clearer. However, they become dull over time as they accumulate dirt, spiderwebs and other debris. Also, some may develop hard water spots. Cleaning both the lenses and reflectors can help improve brightness and aesthetic appearance.

Change Nonfunctioning Bulbs

Check for burned-out bulbs a few times each year. Change them if necessary and if it is safe. For broken bulbs, call a professional to remove them safely. Be sure to use the correct type of bulb for the light to reduce damage risks. Remember to turn off the power source before you change a bulb.

Ensure Positions of Fixtures Are Correct

Wind, pets, kids and mowers can skew the position of some outdoor lights. If your lighting design includes lights that are aimed at a path or another area where you walk, it is especially important to keep them aligned correctly to serve their safety purpose. Make sure all the lights are in the correct positions. A common issue is solar stake lights becoming skewed in position. Check them a few times each year to see if they need to be set upright.

Check for Exposed Wires

Carefully inspect electric lights once or twice every year for fraying cables with exposed wires. In addition to presenting potential dangers, exposed wires can cause outdoor lights to fail. 

A common problem with DIY outdoor lighting systems is that people often leave cables above ground. While it helps to keep wiring connectors wrapped with electrical tape to protect them from harsh weather and deterioration, it is ideal to have cables buried. Ice buildup, wind and other storm-related problems can lead to damage that exposes wires within the cables. 

Even systems that are professionally installed can sometimes have exposed cables. For example, a pet digging in the dirt may cause a buried cable to become exposed. Any undamaged cables should be reburied. If they are above ground, they can present electrical hazards or tripping dangers even if they are not frayed or damaged. Also, sunlight and heat can damage exposed cables. 

Consider Lighting Timers

Timers are helpful for cutting unnecessary energy use and wear on electrical outdoor lights. Today, there are timers that automatically detect when the sun sets or rises and turn on or turn off all the lights accordingly. Also, there are timers that can turn on only certain lights based on natural light levels. For example, they may turn on certain lights during a cloudy day or around dusk and dawn. 

Optimize for Winter or Upgrade if Necessary

If your outdoor lighting was not originally installed by a professional, it may also be time to consider an upgrade. Many of the cheaper outdoor lights found in stores are not designed to perform as well in harsh winter conditions. Replacing them every year or two can be more expensive than investing in a custom lighting plan that is designed with the local climate in mind. Also, some lights that are old and wearing out may simply need to be replaced. A professional can assess your lighting design to see if there are improvements that could reduce risks, hassles or long-term costs.

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Call a Professional for Your Outdoor Lighting Maintenance Needs

The good news is that you do not have to take on these tasks on your own. When it comes to electrical lights, you should never compromise your safety. Our team is here to help you by changing non-working bulbs, replacing broken lights and doing other tasks to help restore the beauty of your outdoor lighting. Please contact Oregon Outdoor Lighting to learn more.

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