How to Fix Christmas Lights

Troubleshooting & repair tips for fixing broken Christmas lights.

By Kelli Harvey | Updated Nov 23, 2022
How to Fix Christmas Lights

Items you might need:

  • Light Tester
  • Replacement Bulbs
  • Spare Fuses

Christmas Light Problem: Entire String Not Working

Possible Cause: Fuse burnt out in plug
Suggested Fix: Replace the plug fuse

Possible Cause: Loose or broken bulb
Suggested Fix: Use a light tester to identify and replace loose or burnt out bulbs. If you don't have a light tester, you can check each bulb on the string for tightness and look for visual clues, like cloudy or dark glass, to identify bulbs that need to be replaced.

Fix Christmas lights by replacing plug fuses
Christmas Light Plug Fuses

Christmas Light Problem: Half of String Not Working

Christmas Light Problem: Random bulbs not working

Christmas Light Problem: Lights flickering when string is moved

If bulbs are flickering when the light string is moved, this is likely caused by damage to the wiring and the light string will need to be replaced. Additionally, if you notice cracked insulation, a damaged plug, or frayed wires anywhere on your Christmas lights, we recommend replacing the entire set even if it is currently working.

Christmas Light Problem: Lights dimming when plugged end-to-end

Tips to Avoid Damaging Your Christmas Lights

Troubleshooting Christmas lights that don't work also includes understanding their intended use and avoiding situations like:

  • installing lights with staple guns that damage the coating and wiring
  • exposing light set plugs to standing water on the ground or near gutters
  • leaving light sets displayed outside longer than 90 days
  • plugging outdoor light sets into plug outlets that are not GFCI rated
  • placing light sets near open high heat sources
  • ripping or yanking lights out of trees and bushes
  • improper installation or storage

Christmas Light Storage Tips

Properly storing Christmas lights after use will help to minimize damaged light strings and ensure your displays continue looking great through many years of use!

  • Store decorations in a cool, dry place.
  • Avoid tugging your Christmas lights to get them down. Instead take a little extra time to remove and store your lights carefully. Your future self will thank you!
  • Wrap lights around a flat piece of cardboard, then stack the cardboard neatly in a storage bin. You can cut a notch on each end of the cardboard to hold the end plugs of your light string or just tuck them in underneath the wound up lights.
  • Wrap Christmas light strings around your elbow and palm to create a neat circle, much like you would when winding up a hose or power cord. You can then put them in a ziplock bag and label the bags based on location or hang the light loops off hooks.
  • Label each storage bin with what it contains. This is an easy way to find what you're looking for and know exactly what is in each box for easy access.