It’s that time of year again: the annual neighborhood arms race to see whose light display is the most impressive. Maybe you’ll win this year, and maybe you won’t. But there’s one thing that you can make sure you’re on top of, and that’s putting up your lights safely.
If you own a staple gun, it’s tempting to attach your lights to the roof with it. But it’s a temptation you should resist. Here are the most common reasons why.
1. Staples damage your shingles.
This is way more than just a cosmetic concern. Even the tiniest holes in your shingles are big enough for water to gradually seep in and make its way into the vulnerable parts of your roofing. That means your roof will weaken over time, which can eventually lead to a collapse–and you don’t want to be standing on your roof when that happens.
Tiny holes from repeated stapling will limit the lifespan of your roof considerably. Asphalt shingles will lose granules much quicker this way, and wooden shingles can splinter and even rot away from underneath if water seeps beneath them.
2. Metal staples are a bad combination with electricity.
Christmas lights aren’t made with quite as much care as the Mona Lisa. They blink, they cut out, and they just plain don’t work sometimes. So it’s not rare for a string of lights to have exposed wiring, and a casing that’s vulnerable to the elements.
This wiring, in combination with the metal staples, is a bad combination when it’s sitting on top of your roof. The metal can send the electric current into your roof or along your gutters, turning your home into a live wire waiting to shock or burn anything it touches.
A safer alternative to staples are plastic roof clips that can be attached to gutters or shingles. The plastic will not conduct electricity, and the clips don’t damage the existing structure of your roof. As an added bonus, certain types of clips can be left on the light strings when you take them down, meaning they’re ready to go for next year right out of the box.