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The holidays mean pulling boxes of decorations out of the attic or garage, untangling strands of lights and finding all the pieces for light up Rudolph or inflatable Mr Snow Man. Before you get up on the roof and start installing your tribute to Clark Griswold's neighbourhood illuminating Christmas light display, take a second to inspect all of your decorations that use electricity.
 
Start by running your hand down the length of the electrical cord starting at where it meets the device and going to the wall plug. Take special care to look for stress on the cable where it meets the device that is being powered and also at the plug head. Inspect the plug head for loose or bent prongs. Bent prongs should be straightened. Check the length of the cord for any signs of rodent chewing that may have exposed the copper core of the wire. Any signs of damage to your decoration that show the copper of the wire is a sign that this particular decoration has performed admirably, but should not be used this season. A $19 set of Christmas lights isn't worth a fatal electrical shock or a fire.
 
When you're ready to plug your display in, be sure to try and use as few extension cords as possible, and if you do use them, ensure they are exterior extension cords that also have no frayed plugs or chewed sheathing that causes the copper of the wire to be exposed. If you are using extensive powered displays try to distribute the electrical load. Avoid using "taps" or "splitters" as electrical resistance at those points can make plugs very hot and be a fire risk. Above all if your home plugs are showing signs or smoke damage or melted plastic, book a home inspection to have us look at your electrical! This could be the sign of a potential fire hazard lurking in your walls. 

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Keith Langlois

RHI | NHI

Registered Home Inspector
National Home Inspector
Licensed Electrician