Now that we are well into the beginning of the month of December and the Thanksgiving holiday is in the rearview, for many it is the time for holiday decorating, including the hanging up of Christmas lights and related accoutrements on the exterior of the house. Whether we celebrate one, all, or even none of the upcoming holidays, most of us like to have the exterior of our homes reflect the festivities in the interior. Children love looking at the lights on a walk or drive through the neighborhood and adults, even though some may not admit it, delight at the glittering decorations. So why is a roofing company interested in holiday lights? Well, that is because most frequently many of these exterior decorations end up being attached to the roof. If the fastening of garlands, twinklers, light icicles, or any of a dozen different decorative elements is done improperly, especially year after year, they can cause unintended damage to the roof covering, and even result in leaks later on. So, we have decided to take this time to briefly educate you on the dos and don’ts of hanging up your holiday decorations.
Firstly, safety should be the topmost consideration. You may think that a one story roof is not all that high, but even with a low-sloped one story roof caution must be taken. Make sure that you are not putting your home’s holiday aesthetic over your own health by using a well-functioning and properly set ladder. Follow all the instructions from the ladder’s manufacturer in its set-up and use, which are typically printed on the ladder itself. Also, if you do not have much experience in climbing up to your roof, make sure that you do not carry or hold too many things at once, as this can easily make you lose your balance. When decorating the exterior of the home, it is always best to have a partner or helper who will hold on to materials and pass them up to you. When working with electric lights also make sure that they are not plugged into an outlet while they are being placed or hung on and around the home. It is best to check them first, then unplug and hang, and then plug everything in at the end once it is in the appropriate place. Always carefully read and follow all the safety directions on any of the decorations, electrical and otherwise, that you purchase.
Second, it is important to consider the method of attachment. The electric lights that are typically hung around the eaves of the house, whichever shape they may take, are frequently the main culprit here. These are sometimes sold with variously shaped hooks that are meant to aid in attachment. If they are not sold with hooks, separate kits of plastic hooks are easily found in the holiday decoration department of any hardware store or supermarket. While these can sometimes seem clumsy and awkward to use, they are in fact your best bet. Because they typically come in a shape with a variety of differently formed attachment points, it is always possible to attach them to the woven lights cord. Then, it is necessary to find an attachment point on the roof. This is easiest with gutters, since the hooks can clamp straight onto the gutter. If your house does not have gutters, another attachment point, like the drip edge or soffit, will have to suffice. When attaching the hooks it is very important to take great care and do so softly and patiently, as while gutters, for example, can take the weight of an electrical light garland, they cannot take even a fraction of the weight of a human being. Although it may seem at first that the easiest way to attach decorations to the roof is by stapling or nailing them directly to the shingles, this is wrong. Shingles perform best while maintaining integrity of the surface and the granules. If this is disturbed in any way, like by a nail or staple, which may seem minor and harmless at first, then integrity fails and the shingle becomes less and less effective as weather events exacerbate the damage already introduced. This is exactly how hail damage (as described in an earlier post) leads to eventual leaks, although the hail typically never breaks through the roof covering.
All in all, when it comes to putting up your exterior holiday decorations, follow common sense, take all necessary safety precautions, and be sure to avoid damaging the integrity of your roof covering. Find another way to attach light garlands along the eaves, using the appropriate attachment hoods and avoid attaching garlands along the hips and ridges of the roof, as there is no way to attach decorations there without it leading to additional roof damages. Decorate safely and happy holidays!
Florida’s Best Roofing, Inc. is a fully licensed (CCC 1325974) and insured, local roofing contractor with over a decade of experience. If you are interested in roof replacement or repair and you are in the Palm Coast, Flagler, or Volusia area, please give us a call at 386-263-7906 for a free estimate!