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Christmas Lights

          So it’s that time of year again. Everyone is counting down to Christmas. Kids are excited and can’t wait for Christmas Vacation. Parents are stressed during this season and it has only barely begun. There’s baking and parties and decorating and who can forget all the Gifts.  There is a lot to do during this time and we all try to get it done quickly. One of my favorite movies during the Christmas season is National Lampoons Christmas Vacation. I don’t know many people that don’t love that movie. Big Tree, crazy family, and who could ever forget the crazy lights on the Griswold’s house.

            Let’s talk about Christmas decorating your home for a minute here. While I love the movie Christmas Vacation, I almost cringe inside when I see Clark installing the Christmas lights on the roof of his home. Right before he falls off the roof you see Clark using a staple gun and just stapling the Christmas lights right through his shingles. While I know this is for a comedic effect, you would be surprised how many times as a roofer I go to an inspection and there is evidence of damage from a homeowner installing Christmas decorations and damaging the roof.

            While none of the damage is typically intentional, it is a common state of things I see among renters and even homeowners in the Horry County area. Even a small area compromised on your roof can lead to a much bigger problem during a serious rain event.

            Another issue is safety. Getting on a roof is serious business. Homeowners sometimes see roofers walk on roofs with ease and don’t consider that that roofer is on a roof every day. They use safety shoes with special soles to help them walk on the roof or have harnesses and safety equipment set up to make sure they don’t fall. It’s a real downer to read in the news about a man falling off the roof trying to decorate the home and having an injury or worse during Christmas time. Even worse is the electrical fire risk. Make sure that you don’t overload breakers on your breaker box. This is especially important on an older home. New homes typically will have the type of breakers that will trip if there is a problem. Older home, especially a home 40+ years, will not have the means to prevent a fire in the case of an overload at a circuit. Using newer Christmas lights will also help you with this as well. Remember those lights you’ve been hanging up for 10+ years. Inspect your lights and make sure there is no bare wires where the conduit has worn or scraped off.

There are many ways to install Christmas lighting on your home and not compromise the roof. I personally like the lighting clips that attach to the gutters of the home. This is a great way to outline your home especially if you have a home with a large Hip roof on it. My absolute favorite decorations are the light projectors, or the laser show light set ups they have in the yard. Or maybe just leave the roof alone during the holidays it’s one of the hardest times of the year for your roof.  Set the lighting up in the yard and leave the roof decorating to the paid professionals. 

Speaking of professionals. I see Christmas light companies all over the place now. Use one of them if you’re really in the spirit to compete with Clark Griswold ‘s house. However, make sure that any company that you are hiring to perform any type of construction work or decorating work to your home is properly insured. Don’t accept a node of the head and a verbal answer that the contractor is licensed and insured. I am amazed at how many times I get asked if I am licensed and insured but never asked to prove it.

Here’s how you get the proof. I know that in the State of South Carolina you can look up a companies licensing on the South Carolina Labor, Licensing, Regulations website. www.llr.sc.gov.     Right on the home page is a tab “look up a license”. Follow the instructions from there. When it comes to insurance you need to make sure a contractor has General liability and workman’s comp insurance. Depending on the size and scope of the job you are having done you should have them supply you with a certificate of insurance naming you and your home as the additional insured. This document would come from the contractor’s insurance company directly. They can email it and/or fax it, they can even put it in the regular mail, but make sure it comes directly from the insurance agent. It’s the agent’s job to do this for them, so don’t worry about putting anyone out. Anyone that is working on your home or in your home or on your property should have these things. If you don’t hire someone that is properly insured, and they get hurt working on your home you might be held liable for their injuries or your homeowner’s insurance might be held liable. It’s a simple thing to protect yourself here.

The Holidays are a special time of year. Make sure you watch plenty of Christmas movies, eat plenty of Christmas cookies and enjoy the people you love.

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