‘Tis the season for festive home decorations! Whether you’re a Christmas fanatic who goes all-out with your holiday decor or a minimalist decorator, there’s one thing that no holiday home can go without. You guessed it: Christmas lights!


Before you start stringing your lights, you’ll want to make sure your home is prepared. That means cleaning off windowsills and doorways, installing hooks, and (perhaps most importantly) checking your electrical switch box.


To make sure that your electrical switches and outlets are as ready for the holidays as you are, you’ll need to do a simple check of your home’s electrical switches and outlets. It’s not difficult, but it’s an important step to get right. Keep reading below to learn about checking your electrical switches and outlets.  


What is an Electrical Switch?


Most people are familiar with electrical switches, even if they’re not familiar with the terminology. That’s because we use electrical switches every day in our homes.


A switch is simply a device that completes an electrical circuit. It can therefore be used to turn a light on or off. For example, the light switches that you use to turn on the overhead lights in your home are all electrical switches. 


How to check an Electrical Switch


Check your switch by plugging in your lights and turning them on and off.

If the lights do not light up, first check the lights themselves. Make sure the problem is not with the string lights. Try plugging them into each outlet. 


If the problem is with the electrical switch and not the lights, you should turn the switch off and then cut power to the switch using your home’s circuit breaker. Next, remove the faceplate of the switch. This is the front part of the switch that conceals its hardware and wiring. You can use a screwdriver to unscrew this piece. Once you have exposed the switch, you can use a pair of pliers to disconnect the wiring that is connected to the switch. Then, use a circuit tester like a multimeter to see if there is still an electrical current running to the switch in question. To do so, you’ll need to connect the multimeter and turn the switch back on.


If you don’t have access to these tools or aren’t sure how to read electrical switch symbols, you can consult a local professional. You can also call in help if your testing tool reveals that there is a wiring problem in your home.


What is an Electrical Outlet?


GFCI outlets are usually the type installed in bathrooms, wet kitchen areas, basements and outdoors where there are high chances of abnormal current passing through the wires.  Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter or GFCI outlets detect the abnormal flow of current and instantly shuts off the power supply. Normal electrical supply is when the current passes through the hot wires and returns through the neutral wire. If the current flows beyond that, the GFCI outlet immediately detects the danger and kills the power. 


How to Measure Voltage


Get a multimeter to measure voltage. Insert a probe into each slot and read the line voltage measurement. A properly working outlet gives a reading of 110 to 120 volts. If there is no reading, check the wiring and the outlet. Again, here is the time you may want to contact a local professional. 

Prepare Your Electrical Switches & Outlets for Christmas


It’s never fun to have to do emergency home maintenance. Luckily, you can avoid unfortunate mishaps by getting your home holiday-ready before you begin decorating. With the information above, you can test your electrical switches, test your electrical outlets, and hang your Christmas lights with confidence.

At Ambassador Home Maintenance, we understand the importance of home upkeep. That’s why we’re happy to offer fast and comprehensive maintenance services. To find out more about what we can do for you, contact us today!