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8 Steps to Landscape Lighting Maintenance

landscape lighting maintenance can keep your outdoor lighting fixtures in good condtionLandscape lighting is a great way to improve your home’s curb appeal. With the right lights and the right design, you can create visually striking views of your home at night. Landscape lighting, like all things around the home, needs some regular maintenance to keep it looking good. We spoke with Portland Sprinklers and Landscape Lighting to get some details on what you should do to keep your landscape lighting working for you.

1. Clean Regularly

Being outdoors, your outdoor lighting fixtures will get really dirty over time. This is normal and a lot of people don’t think about it, unless the dirt builds up to the point of blocking the light. You should not neglect cleaning your lights, however. In addition to blocking light, dust and debris can also absorb heat from the lighting fixtures. If left alone, it could cause shorts, melt plastic components, or even start fires. You’ll want to make sure you clean your lighting fixtures at least twice a year – once in the spring and once in the fall. Don’t limit yourself to just this, however; if a major windstorm or rainstorm kicks up a lot of dust and mud, you should clean it immediately. This will save you needing to replace parts that get damaged as well as reduce the risk of fire.

2. Check for Damage To Fixtures

You should also regularly check your lighting fixtures for damage. Look for broken lenses, dented metal, or corrosion on metal parts. Depending on the metal, a coating of wax can reduce the chances of corrosion, but make sure you get a wax made for the type of metal your fixtures are made from. Applying the wax once or twice a year will make a big difference. If you see damage, replace the parts. You may need to order the parts first. Not all damage will put your fixtures at risk, or interfere with the lighting, but any damage can potentially be worsened over time, so it’s a good idea to keep an eye on fixtures you don’t immediately replace.

3. Check For Exposed Cables

Professional lighting installers will bury cables to protect them from damage. Sometimes, they can get dug up. Maybe you have a pet dog that likes to dig around your yard. Maybe your kids do the same (the naughty scamps!). Even wild animals may come dig them up looking for food. Either way, you should check your lighting fixtures once a month to make sure the cables are still buried. Exposed to the elements, cables can easily get damaged and corroded, which can lead to shorts. If you find exposed wires, rebury them as long as they aren’t damaged and replace them if they are.

4. Remove Debris from Fixtures

path lightingLandscape lighting is meant to highlight the best features of your home. Sometimes, this can be plants or trees. This is all good, but trees shed their leaves in winter, and wind might break branches. You should remove such debris in the fall and spring to remove the yearly scrub. After any storm, you should also give them a check to make sure nothing fell on them. Not only can the debris run the risk of catching fire, it can block the lighting and knock your fixtures out of place.

5. Replace Light Bulbs

Most people have switched to LED lights for outdoor lighting. LEDs rarely burn out on their own, only going out if they’re damaged. This almost completely eliminates the need to replace light bulbs. That said, some people still prefer the lighting effects of regular light bulbs. If this describes you, you’ll need to keep checking your lighting fixtures for burnt out bulbs. Replace any you find.

6. Readjust Fixtures

Sometimes your fixtures will get knocked out of position. Storms, or falling debris, or playful kids and pets; all of these can upset your lighting fixtures. While performing maintenance, check and make sure that your lights are where they need to be. You should do this after checking for damage or burnt out bulbs so you know that what you get is what you want to see. After all, it’s no good adjusting the fixture if the light isn’t going to work anyway.

7. Check Timers and Circuit Boards

If you use timers to handle your lights automatically, you’ll need to check them. Even the best made timers can run a little bit off, and they will wear down over time. Check your timers once a month to make sure they’re still running as you want them to. If they break down, you’ll probably know right away, since the lights won’t come on. In that case, you’ll simply need to replace.

Checking the circuit board is a maintenance step you won’t need to do too often. If your lights completely fail to come on, a circuit breaker might have tripped, and checking the board will get it back up. For more complicated problems with the circuit boards, however, you will want to contact a professional. Playing around with electrical equipment without proper training can lead to serious injury, or worse.

8. Call An Expert

If the company that installed your outdoor lighting setup covers maintenance, it might be worthwhile to sign up for it. It can save you time and money trying to fix things up yourself when you don’t know how to take care of everything. You should also consider calling a professional if you can’t figure out what is causing a problem with your system. If you’ve done all the above steps and your lighting fixtures are still not working, a professional can locate the problem without lengthy and expensive trial and error. This is always a must for complex electrical components; don’t risk shocking yourself to fix something you don’t understand. It’s not worth saving a few extra bucks if the final cost is hospital – or funeral – fees.

Regular Lighting Maintenance Saves You a Lot of Time and Money

Regular maintenance can be the difference between a quick cleaning and a complete replacement. If you can spot problems early on, you fix them before they grow. An unburied cable can quickly be buried, but if left sitting long enough to get damaged, a short can affect the entire fixture. You might then have to replace the entire fixture, which is far more expensive and time consuming.

If the company that installed your lighting has a maintenance plan, that might be the best way to make sure your landscape lighting stays in good condition. For those that don’t have that option, the above steps are what you need to keep in mind. Proper maintenance will keep your outdoor lighting going for much longer than neglect.