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Exterior Christmas light help

Old 11-30-2008, 03:04 PM
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Default Exterior Christmas light help

We decorate the exterior of our house every year with lights. I keep having a problem of when it rains of the GFI breaker tripping.

If I wrap all of my connections with electrical tape (after they dry out of course) will this help my problem.

I am the only person that has a problem with this. ;? ;? ;? ;?
Old 11-30-2008, 04:06 PM
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Default Re: Exterior Christmas light help

Definately wrap those connections. If water gets in there and crosses the points the breaker will go. This will happen mostly with connection you have lying on the ground - which in my case is most of them. This will also save you a shock or two - when it is dry you will have some water left in there (I know from experience)!

The other issue could be overload from running too many units off one outlet. Though most bulb sets would have their own fuse go first, you may have unfused decorations that push the breaker.
Old 11-30-2008, 04:08 PM
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Default Re: Exterior Christmas light help

Start with an In-Use Cover on your exterior receptacle. It is a "bubble" cover that allows something to be left plugged-in. The regular flip covers are designed for temporary use only (plug in, use the device, unplug)

Keep each connection point dry to eliminate trips

If the GFI continues to trip, you may have a bad string of lights and will have to replace it

Old 11-30-2008, 04:14 PM
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Default Re: Exterior Christmas light help



It was the first thing to come to mind!
Old 11-30-2008, 04:44 PM
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Default Re: Exterior Christmas light help

The only time it trips is when it is raining outside, I keep thinking where my lights strings join together is where the problem lies since most are on the ground and uncovered.

Where all of my drop cords run from is covered with a couple of cords coming from under the house and from the garage.

We have had rain here for 2 days, which has been unheard of here in the last couple of years(our local lake is 23' below normal) so I am not going to gripe about the rain but
when it dries out I will go and tape all of my other connections and see if that helps
Old 11-30-2008, 04:54 PM
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Default Re: Exterior Christmas light help

I have never heard of any issues with the connections between the light strands. I would look first to your extension cords and receptacles.
Old 11-30-2008, 06:00 PM
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Default Re: Exterior Christmas light help

Instead of gumming up the plugs with tape (after the fact), why not wrap a little bit of plastic around the dried out
connectors first and then use your tape.
Old 11-30-2008, 06:02 PM
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Default RE: Exterior Christmas light help

If I understand the way a GFI works, it basically watches to make sure that whatever current goes to the circuit comes back. Even the slightest imbalance of current flow coming and going tells the GFI that some current has gotten to ground and it will shut the circuit down. Rain water is not very conductive in and of itself, but if you do have a wet connector on the ground or a wet receptacle, the circuit is easy to trip. I'd start by making sure the cords are plugged into a receptacle that stays dry and then I'd make sure that no connections were laying on the ground.
Old 11-30-2008, 06:44 PM
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Default Re: Exterior Christmas light help

What we do is take a plastic bag the kind that you take apples and fruits in the grocery store and wrap the connections with the bag and take electrical tape and wrap that around the bag to make a water tight connection. Hasn't failed yet even in snow.
Old 12-01-2008, 06:58 AM
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Default Re: Exterior Christmas light help

Interesting. I did my lights yesterday. I only got pissed off once when i plugged one too many strands together and blew the fuse in the first strand. Is it possibhle you have too many plugged into one another? I have never wrapped my connections with anything, and have never had a problem. Never occurred to me. Now I know why th elady in Lowes asked me if I knew where the electric tape was. She said her husband needed it for lights. I thought he was trying to tape them to the gutter or something and was thinking "that would never work."
Old 12-01-2008, 07:15 AM
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Default Re: Exterior Christmas light help

I keep 3 sets of lights to each plug in according to the recommendations on the boxes. I have blow some fuses but the lights work fine until I get some heavy rain.

I am going to let them dry out and double check everything and go from there

Thanks, I talked with a buddy of mine that works for an electrical company and he said he wraps all of his connections with electrical tape just to make sure. He seems to think I may have a main cord or something with a bad spot on it that is causing my problem though
Old 12-01-2008, 08:14 AM
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Default Re: Exterior Christmas light help

A fuse will blow with there is too much current flow through it. They have some resistance, so as the power flowing through a fuse increases, it will get to the point where it melts and "blows". A breaker works in a similar fashion, where heat will trip it, but you can re-set it. A GFI tips when there is leakage out of the circuit to ground.

So, if you plug too many strings together, you can blow a fuse, but the GFI would not care.
Old 12-01-2008, 09:11 AM
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Default RE: Exterior Christmas light help


I have some lights that are on trees that have the cord plugs out in the open and some connections that I bury under the mulch in the gardens to hide the extension cords. All exposed to rain and snow and ice.

My solution is to take some 6" wide shrink wrap and wrap it around a few times then I run some duct tape around the ends to seal it more. To date, no problems with water getting into the plugs.
Old 12-01-2008, 09:18 AM
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Default Re: Exterior Christmas light help

My dad used to have problems with this same thing, and was able to solve it by sticking engineering stakes in the ground at all of the cord to cord connections, and zip tying the plugs up off the ground. When you do this, put the plugs vertical, with the female plug up top.
Old 12-01-2008, 06:00 PM
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Default Re: Exterior Christmas light help

autobaun70 - 12/1/2008 12:18 PM

My dad used to have problems with this same thing, and was able to solve it by sticking engineering stakes in the ground at all of the cord to cord connections, and zip tying the plugs up off the ground. When you do this, put the plugs vertical, with the female plug up top.


Thanks, by the way I love the way you have THE SCORE posted
Old 12-02-2008, 03:37 AM
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Default Re: Exterior Christmas light help

I did mine yesterday - bought all new ones as the old ones were crapping out one by one after 20 years. The new LEDs are the same price or cheaper at CVS and you can string 87 strands together. They use almost no power. Very bright. (we are the wierdos in town and have the "retro" large colored ones) I highly recommend them. Maybe with the 10 times lower current draw shorts and such will be less a problem?

I was so impressed I am doing the garage, shed and chimney today - why not - go for that - Chevy Chase / tacky / 50's look all the way!


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