Exterior lighting is a great asset for residences and commercial properties alike. It enhances the aesthetic appeal of your home, provides a secondary layer of security by keeping would-be trespassers at bay, and improves the safety of your property by reducing the risk of trip and fall accidents on your property. However, to fully reap the benefits of your landscape lighting, your fixtures need regular tender loving care, especially during the winter.
Indoor lighting systems are kept safe from harsh conditions, making maintenance as simple as replacing any burnt out bulbs. Compared to this, outdoor garden lighting systems are exposed to the elements as well as fluctuating temperatures, making it necessary to observe extensive measures to keep them functioning at optimal levels.
Factors That Affect Outdoor Lighting in Winter
True, outdoor fixtures are designed to withstand these extreme conditions. However, over time, they begin to accumulate dirt, deteriorate, and become damaged, reducing the light output quality of the system. Listed below are a few factors that can negatively impact the integrity of your exterior lighting setup:
- Fluctuating Temperature – The latest trends in outdoor lighting involves the use of LED light bulbs — which plays into your favour during the winter. The reason: subfreezing temperatures enhance the efficiency of LED bulbs and can also extend their useful life. The problem lies with temperatures fluctuating between subzero temperatures to above freezing. The shift between freezing and thawing can cause outdoor home lighting systems to readjust their focus, deviate from their position, break, or damage the waterproofing.
- Slush, water, and moisture – Moisture is one of the greatest enemies of any structure, even for lighting built for the outdoors. Ice, snow, and slush can do a number on your bulbs and wiring. Your lighting, wiring, and box should all be watertight, however, freezing and thawing, and various winter activities may have damaged their waterproofing.
- Wintertime Activities – Activities do not come to a halt during winter. Property owners still need to do outdoor maintenance including shovelling snow off the driveway, removing snow from the roof, cleaning the patio, and chopping off icicles. If the layers of snow on your driveway are deep enough, you can easily hit one of the fixtures lining the driveway with your shovel. If you’re cleaning your roof, your tools could get tangled in the wiring of string lights. Additionally, if you have children who like playing in the snow, fixtures that may be concealed in the snow can be damaged or cause accidents during playtime.
- Remove snow. A snowstorm, if it’s big enough, can cover your ground fixtures completely. While more traditional bulbs, like the halogen variety, radiate enough heat to melt the ice and snow, modern LED bulbs may not do so quite as well. Clear the snow to maintain visibility in your property. If you’re hiring an agency to remove snow from your property, inform them of the location of your fixtures or place indicators (like a brightly coloured flag) so they can avoid damaging your fixtures accidentally.
- Clean the lenses. Lenses, especially low-lying fixtures, can accumulate all types of dirt, debris, and hard water deposits. This can cloud the surface and their brilliance. Apply a cleaning solution to a soft, non-abrasive cloth and wipe the lens surface clean.
- Check the bulbs. More traditional light bulbs are prone to damage and have a shorter life expectancy when exposed to extreme temperatures. Additionally, if one halogen bulb burns out, other bulbs in the near vicinity will also be prone to burning out faster. A burned-out bulb uses less voltage than it normally would, which means that the other bulbs receive more voltage, causing their circuits to shorten. Replace damaged bulbs or, if at all possible, switch to LED light bulbs. LED bulbs have a longer useful life and are more resilient to freezing temperatures. However, they do present another issue, which is brightness. Check to see if the LED bulbs are as bright as when you first had them installed. If not, replace them so your lighting system is back to full functionality.
- Inspect wires. The freezing and thawing cycle causes the ground to expand and contract alternately. This can shift the wiring buried in the dirt and can sometimes even force them up to the surface. If tampered with, exposed wires can be damaged, which can affect your lighting system. In addition to that, it also introduces trip and fall hazards in your property as well as the risk of electrocution should the wires themselves be impaired. Inspect your property to locate exposed wires and bury them in the ground. Should the wires be damaged, secure the assistance of a professional.
- Reposition lighting fixtures. Fixtures can shift out of alignment over time due to harsh winds, storms, and the accumulation of snow. Activities, such as landscaping and snow removal, can also result in damage to your system. Take the time to walk around your property once in a while to see if your landscape lights are positioned well enough to illuminate areas that are critical both to aesthetic appeal and safety.
- Investigate the GFCI outlets. Outdoor electrical fixtures are required to have a ground-fault circuit-interrupter, or GFCI, which keeps electrical wiring from overheating and prevents potential fires. The GFCI outlet automatically trips if it detects a circuit imbalance. Moisture from melting snow and ice can trip the GFCI device. Check to see if these outlets have been tripped and hit the “reset” button. Make sure to close it after you’re done. If either the outlet or the cover is damaged, have it replaced by a professional.
- Reset the timer. If you experienced any power outage, reset the outdoor lighting timer so that you can continue to save on electrical bills.
How to Maintain Your Landscape Lighting System
Make sure that you’re getting the most out of your exterior lighting system by keeping it in tip-top shape. A few steps can help you continue to deter vandals and thieves while dazzling passersby and protecting your guests from trip and fall hazards.
Avoid damage and keep your exterior lights shining bright all winter by observing the following:
Preserving the curb appeal, safety, and security of your home is as simple as observing the proper maintenance of your outdoor lighting system.
We understand how important it is to keep your outdoor lighting system at its best performance. This is why we at Augusta Green Sprinklers offer various services for landscape lighting systems including replacement and repairs of fixtures. We ensure that your home’s lighting is as safe and captivating as it was when it was first installed. Don’t hesitate to contact us at (416) 227-1666 or book our services online. We will gladly take your call.