Hanging Christmas lights the easy way
Michelle has been after me for a while now to post this so she can share it with you. It started about 4 years ago after a particularly extensive Halloween decorating binge on my part…I “do” Halloween in a big way here in the Hinterlands. Michelle puts up with it, so I decided I needed to “do” Christmas with the same enthusiasm for her. To do this I started with putting icicle lights all across the front of the house and up the roof line, so that it gave a winter wonderland effect for her to enjoy. Some lit deer in the yard on a blanket of green mini lights and one pop up lighted spiral tree for each member of the clan in their favorite color….I go for points when I do a thing. Over the years, I have added a little here and there to the point that now it takes me a couple of days to get it all done….I do it alone since the members of my clan are the intellectual kind and not mechanically inclined. So this lead me to figure out how I can do this faster and safer.
So here we go, I HATE climbing on the roof! The older I get, the less I like to do it. Don’t get me wrong high places do not scare me, I used to work on the top of power plants for a living….I enjoy being on top of the world, BUT home roofs are just plain dangerous and working on ladders propped up on the sides of houses, so you can reach stuff is insanely dangerous, especially if you are working alone. Putting up those first icicle lights almost did me in. I was working on a too short ladder on a too loose patch of decorative rocks and having to stretch to get to any thing. And, to hang those lights with the clips you get from the local home improvement store means I had to CLIMB to the peak of each roof to slide the clips onto the shingles and then string the lights. The second year I went and rented a 22 ft ladder to do it thinking I would feel secure…that was not the case, I still felt like I was going to wake up in the ER before I finished. I pondered that feeling and decided I needed another outcome and then it hit me. I have been using a lighting clip system I bought to attach the lights to the gutters while I was standing on the ground. How could I hang the peak lights standing on the ground?
Since the roof line on the garage was 17 ft long on each side, I had to saw a few sections of conduit and hook them together using couplings to get the proper length. I also had to figure a way to connect 2 sections, so they could be spread out to fit.
The next thing to figure out is how to “hinge” these pipes so that they run down each side of the roof. I did this by drilling a hole in the end of each conduit and using a 3/16 inch round braided wire with a ferrule/stop crimped on each side, so that I could have a center hang point. These are going to be redone at the end of the season before I put them away.
Once I had the EMT sized, the next step was to attach the lights to it, I did this using zip ties. A side note here, I had said earlier in the post that I started this project to hang icicle lights, this year we are changing to the large single bulb C9 type these are also warm white LED’s which is going to be less of a drain on the power and hopefully cut my bill. The icicle lights are mini’s and draw a considerable amount of electricity. The other up side to switching to LED’s is that I can string up to 90 strings together……safer that way.
The other thing I had to consider is that the light needed to hang down so the lighting strands were oriented to the center of the V facing each other.
The fasia hook will fit on the braided wire and the pipes will hang and spread out so that they look like they are part of the roof.
We were running out of day light so I did not trim the zip ties before hanging the pipes, these were taken back down and cleaned up later.
The end of the EMT will lay inside the gutter to help hold it in place and the center hook will keep it from sagging. the Lights on the pole will connect to the lights that will run around the gutter and plug in to the next set of peak lights.
The job is a long one to do the first time, but after that initial investment of time it takes me about 3 hours to string all the roof line lights by my self and taking it down is even quicker. After breaking down I disconnect the couplings and fold the extension poles to help with storage. IF you do this correctly, there is no need to take the lights off the EMT and it will all fit right back where it was the past year.