Don’t Throw Out Those Dead Christmas Tree Lights

Welcome to the 202nd Metamorphosis Monday!

Georgia is a crazy place to live, weather-wise.  If you have a convertible you’re pretty much guaranteed a few days every single month, even during the wintertime, when you’ll be able to throw down the top and enjoy the warm breezes. We’re in one of those periods right now.  This was the scene in my kitchen yesterday.  The door to the porch was wide open and it felt like spring had arrived.

Beautiful Sunny Day in December 2012


Doesn’t look like springtime outside, though.  The beautiful fall foliage is almost all gone now.  The porch is so sunny this time of year with most of leaves gone from the trees.  This warm spell won’t last long and winter will return but we’ll enjoy it while it’s here.

December in Georgia


This is what my handy, dandy temperature thingy read on Sunday and today is suppose to be 74º. Time to get busy with all the outdoor decorating before the cold returns.

Temperature on 12-02-12


I was out of town last weekend and on a Christmas home tour with friends yesterday, so I’m running a bit behind on my holiday decorating.  Before I left to go out of town, I hung one of my fave wreaths on the door to the porch.



I’m going to take advantage of our 70 degree weather today and hang my Pottery Barn (knock-off) garland.)  I’ve used it two years now and love how it looks, so I’ll be using it again this year.  (You’ll find the full tutorial to make your own here:  Pottery Barn Knock-off Garland: Make Your Own)

Hanging Garland


For this Met Monday, I thought I’d share a practical “before and after” in case you run into this issue while you are decorating.

Easy Repair for Dead Christmas Tree Lights


Notice anything wrong in this picture below?  See the big dark spot there in the middle?  Waaaaaa!   The tree comes apart in three sections and fortunately the “outage” was in the small top section.

So I took the top part off, brought it over to the kitchen counter, plugged it in and examined each bulb to make sure it was still tight and in place.

Tree with strand of lights that's out


The bulbs appeared to be in place so the next suspect item on my list was a possible bad fuse.

Light plugs fuses for Christmas Tree


Fuses are hidden behind a tiny, secret door located on the male part of the plug.  See where it says, “open.”  The little door can be tricky to open so I usually use a place knife or a flat-head screw driver.

Plug Fuse



Once you slide it open, sometimes it’s obvious which fuse is blown.  It will often appear dark.   If not, you’ll need to remove them one at the time, replacing each with a good fuse to see which one is the blown one.

Plug Fuse


I’ve found the best way to get a fuse out, at least on the trees I have, is to pry it out with a small, pointed object.  I usually use an ice pick but you may want to use something less pointed to avoid accidently stabbing yourself.  If you have a tiny screwdriver, like the kind you use for eyeglass repairs, that would probably work well.  Tweezers would probably work, too.  Not sure a toothpick would work because if your fuses are like mine, the toothpick would break.  Mine are in there REALLY snug.

When you’re prying away on the fuse to get it out, do that on the metal part at the end of the fuse, not the glass part.  Probably be a good idea to wear safety goggles, just in case it breaks.  I’ve never had that happen, but just mentioning it for extra caution.

Plug Fuse


Once I pry the end of the fuse upward like you see below, it still will not budge.  Those babies are really wedged in there.  So I use my needle nose pliers to grab the metal end and pull it on out.  Then just pop a spare fuse back in, say a little prayer and plug it back in to see if it worked.

If your light section is still out, repeat this process for the other fuse.  Oh, the spare fuses and bulbs on my tree came in tiny plastic bags, taped to the light strings deep inside the tree near the trunk.  So if you aren’t sure where yours are, check deep inside the tree.  My trees are about 6 years old, so not sure where they hide the spare parts these days.

Plug Fuse


Houston, we have lift off!  Yay!  Light, beautiful light!  Now on to the serious decorating.  There are trees to decorate, wreaths to hang, beads to string, garland to swag, presents to wrap…………………….

Repaired Christmas Tree Lights


Looking forward to all the fabulous Before and Afters for this Met Monday!

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  1. Susan,
    thanks so very much for hosting each week!


  2. Thank you for hosting , have a wonderful week!

  3. Susan,
    Thanks for hosting! Have fun decking your halls this week.


  4. Thanks for hosting! Have a wonderful week!

  5. Hi Susan. You are truly the smartest one! This is exactly what happened to us this year. My hubby fiddled and fiddled and couldn’t get them to work. We’re going to try this.
    Thanks for hosting this party.
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia 🙂

  6. Lucky you to have such warm weather! It’s going to be 60 here today so I’ll be outside putting up lights!

  7. Thank you for that tut……I didn’t know about those fuses!!! The middle section of my tree went out….gonna fix it now…..!!

  8. Your tree looks beautiful Susan! Great tip on the fuses! I have actually done this myself and it is very easy to do! I always keep those little bulbs and fuses.Thank you for hosting have a great week!

  9. Enjoy your warmer weather, perfect for getting the outside decorations done. We are warmer than usual here today, great day to be outside. Thanks so much for hosting! Hope your week is amazing.

  10. Hi Susan,
    Won’t let me link up. It says I don’t have a backlink, but I do.

    • Cindy, right click on your link and check it. Click on inspect element. It’s probably for the old blog address and will say Just redo that link to say and it should let you link up.

  11. Isn’t the outage always in the ‘top’ section Susan? Some call it ‘karma’. Ha! Seventy-something degrees, how lucky you are. I’m clomping around in my winter coat and boots. As they say, ‘welcome to Canada’. HAVE FUN DECORATING. Warm hugs -Brenda-
    P.S: Thank you for the light tip BTW, will definitely pass it on to my daughter who has a massive tall tree and has a section that isn’t working.

  12. Good info there,gosh I didn’t even realize that,I just went and looked at my lights and lo-and-behold,there is that thingy..thanks for hosting I always enjoy reading here and looking at your photo’s.

    Merry Happy Christmas

  13. You know what Susan, I enjoy your posts as much as I adore your porch! Thanks for hosting.

  14. you are right about this crazy georgia weather. glad I put my tree up last week when it was cooler.

  15. Thanks for another great party! I can’t believe it’s December already….crazy. Thanks for the great post. I’ll have to try that.

  16. literally had no idea that little fuses were located inside these plugs! i’ve probably thrown away countless lights. great tip! haha

  17. Amazing!!! Great post, I will be using this technique for sure.

  18. Well, shoot. NOW you tell me! 😀 Oh well, I guess the garbage needed those lights more than I did. Definitely pinning for next year!

  19. It is warm here in Michigan too mid 50’s. where is the snow!! Thanks for hosting, Laura

  20. God bless you for this post!! I have the same problem you did with my tree and wasn’t looking forward to this year’s plugging in ceremony. I’m getting out my pliers and praying the manufacturers gave me spare fuses.

    • Sandy, my spare fuses and spare bulbs are in tiny plastic bags attached near the trunk of the tree on the wires. So check there for the spares. There’s usually a few fuses and some spare bulbs. First check to make sure all the bulbs are pressed all the way into their sockets. If it still has a dead section of lights, it could be a fuse.

  21. Thank you so much! I did not know there were little fuses in there. Now my dark spot can be returned to the light! Awesome tutorial!

  22. Great info, Susan!!! Now I will know what to check if a section of my lights go out;(:( I have my tree in my morning room now and LOVE it there!!! I will be posting that soon. I have posted 2 Christmas posts so far:) XO, Pinky PS, thanks so much for hosting each week.

  23. Your warm and sunny porch looks so inviting right now! Thanks for sharing and for hosting your fun link party! Have a wonderful week!

  24. Thank you for hosting Susan and great tip on the lights. Wish I would have thought about that before I threw ours out yesterday!

  25. Jen @ Four Marrs & One Venus says

    Wow..look at all those amazing link ups! Can’t wait to shuffle through them all! Heard about you from Mom 4 excited to be here today!

  26. That warm front made it to New Jersey today! It’s supposed to get up to 63 degrees so I already opened a couple windows. Thanks for hosting!

  27. Thanks for the great info and hosting! Have a wonderful week! 🙂

  28. Dear One, Your wreath is so pretty! A nice touch to adding Christmas Spirit to your lovely Home. The way you speak of the weather I would easily think I’m back in Kansas, Dorothy. It is the way Kansas is as well. There’s a saying that if you don’t like the weather….wait 5 minutes, it’ll change. Having an convertible would be like heaven to this old lady. May you have a delightful Christmas Season and God richly BLESS u.
    Thank you for hosting Met Monday!
    Always a treat to visit and see all the ideas,

  29. Thank you for hosting! Wishing you a beautiful week. Toodles, Kathryn @TheDedicatedHouse

  30. Thanks so much! Am I the only person that didn’t know this about the lights?!! Hubby wanted to check the bulbs; we need to check the fuse!

  31. What a beautiful tree you have! Christmas lights…gotta love ’em ;).

    Happy Holidays Susan, and thank you for hosting an awesome party each week!

  32. Thank you so much for hosting again this week. Glad you got your tree fixed without any major surgery.

  33. Thanks for hosting! My first time linking up!!

  34. Susan, you are so smart! I had no idea that fuses were in the plugs!!! You are right-today is convertible weather! Once upon a time I had a convertible and I lived for these days in the 70s to put the top down. Otherwise, it was too hot or too cold! I’m going outside now to finish some decorating on the porch. I’ll come back later to visit!

  35. Thank you so much for hosting!!! I ended up throwing away several strands of lights…thank you for the info about the fuse! Have a great week!!!

  36. Hi Susan: Thank you for hosting the party! What a great tutorial for fixing those fuses on the lights. I have two strings that are only partially lighting up, so I’ll have to try this and see if I can get them working again–thank you!

  37. That’s goood information! I can’t imagine how many sets of lights went in the garbage because of that! We just replaced a fuse the other day on an old light set we were putting outdoors.

  38. Hi Susan, thanks for hosting another great party, and sharing your helpful tip about the fuses. Have a great week!

  39. Susan, I have yet been able to open those little doors to change out my fuses~ LOL I ended up giving away an entire grocery bag of them to the husband’s warehouse guy. I think he fixed every last one of those suckers that refused to light for me! I use approx. 3000 clear lights on one of my trees and before I smartened up and stopped wrapping them in and out of the branches so they wouldn’t show, it was an absolute nightmare to try and remove a strand of 1oo. Now, I just lay the strand under and over the branches, which makes it easier to remove them. BTW, this tree is not getting put up this year~ there aren’t enuf hours in the day to get everything done. I’m behind enough as it is. 🙂 Sue
    P.S. How’s your son doing these days here in Dayton- Is he still in that same neighborhood?

    • Sue, they don’t make it easy! Some of the little doors open easier than others. Getting the fuses out was the hardest part for me, but once I did a few times, I got better at it. That’s amazing he got them all working. That takes patience! I use to just lay them in there when I had a real tree, but all the faux trees have them tightly wrapped around the branches so I probably would have done the same thing if I had to replace them. I like your idea better! 🙂

  40. Linda Page says

    Great info! I never knew about fuses! This old dog learned a new trick! It is also warm in East Texas. Was in the 80’s yesterday and in the upper 70’s today. But a cold front is on the way and we will be in the 60’s towards the end of the week! Brrrrrr!!! Well, as they say in Texas, if you don’t like the weather, wait a few hours and it will change! As always, love your posts.

  41. Better late than never! Thanks Susan, you were right!
    We are warmer than usual here too! We are supposed to hit 60 today and I am in Wisconsin!!
    But I haven’t seen the sun in days.
    Thanks for hostessing!

  42. Great suggestion, Susan! I never knew you could change the fuse! Thanks for hosting!…hugs…Debbie

  43. Thanks so much for hosting! Life to the full, Melissa

  44. Thanks so much for hosting, Susan! You are always such a wealth of knowledge — truly appreciate all that you share. The tree looks lovely, but I have to comment on your ceiling. The texture design is so pretty. My hubby put himself through college working for a drywall crew. Even though it wasn’t what he wanted to do with his life, it’s a skill that has certainly served us very well. He has done beautiful ceiling and wall textures in several of our homes. I’ve just never seen one like yours, so I’ll have to be certain to share it with The Man.

    • Carol, that makes me feel better these ceilings. I would much prefer smooth ones but it’s a pain in the you-know-what to try and scrape them down etc… A contractor told me what they usually do is add a sheet of sheet rock or something that’s thin over it, when folks want smooth ceiling. I’d have to have all my crown molding removed and redone to do that, so I just live with the flowers. I’m glad it’s not the blown in kind or whatever they call that. I think these are called stippled ceilings. They’ve been in every house I’ve lived in so it’s very common here in Georgia. To create the pattern, they squish something into the ceiling. That do a pretty good job of keeping the rows pretty straight, but I’d still rather have smooth ceilings. Now when they build new houses here, they do have smooth ceilings. The stippled ceilings have been out of style a while here.

      • Regarding your ceilings Susan, I must agree with Carol. Yours are not only beautiful but are unique. Reason why ceilings like yours are out of style is namely because of the cost as application can be labour intensive. Also at one time they were a difficult to paint, however with all the new products on the market it is not so much the case so I do hope you will keep them. IMHO ceilings that have an appealing texture adds character to a home.

  45. Thanks so much for hosting Susan. And thanks for the great tip on light fuses! I may have thrown away one or two strings of lights that didn’t need to be tossed 🙁 Always so many inspiring links here…have to go check them out!

  46. You are my hero!!! franki

  47. I’m pulling my half-working lights out of the garbage as we speak! Thanks, even my husband didn’t know about this.
    I told him right away and had him read your post. To think all these years we didn’t use those fused. I still have all the little bags saved inside one of my tennis cans so I’m all set! Thank you so very much! Love a good tip! I’ll have to pass it on too.

  48. Great reminder of things to check before we throw something away! I love your coo coo clock. Brought back memories of when I was a kid. We would run in to look at the clock when the bird would come out. Every 15 minutes 🙂

  49. We have really simplified our Christmas with very limited use of lights. I know……It works for us!
    Thanks for hosting!

  50. Thanks so much for hosting, Susan! It’s been so warm here in Texas this past week that the kids have been wearing shorts. I love our mild weather but I do miss having snow for Christmas.

  51. I am reminded of the movie *The Sound of Music*, where the Countess says to Maria “My dear, is there anything you cannot do?” 🙂 This saying is for you Susan, you constantly amaze me with the things you CAN do!!
    Always a wealth of information on your site including the beauty you bring to decorating. Thanks for hosting and enjoy your warm weather. Happy Decorating.

  52. Very ingenious, Susan… very ingenious and clever…
    Hmm… are you sure you haven’t worked at the NASA, in the past?
    Be honest! 🙂
    ~Hugs to you~

  53. Thank you as always for a fabulous party AND teaching me something I didn’t know!

    xoxo, Tanya

  54. It’s the little things. Thank you so much for sharing.

  55. Wow…your porch and breakfast area look so beautiful and peaceful with all the white and the sun streaming through! And I love, love, love the little lampshades on the chandy in the breakfast room. Speaking of burned out lights, I bought one of those light repair guns…and it has saved/repaired several old light strands, too. Thanks for hosting….getting busy on my decor tonight and have seen so much inspiration online!

    • Judi, how do those repair guns work? I saw some light testers online, or maybe they were fuse testers. Thanks! It’s so nice to have this little respite of warm weather adn sunshine. 🙂

  56. I never noticed it before but you and I have the same chandelier! The white ceramic and brass one. It was in our kitchen when we bought the house two years ago and everyone thought I should change it, but I really like it. I’m working towards a French country/shabby chic look and I think it will work for that. Anyway, I was really tickled to see one of my favorite bloggers has the very same one!

  57. Have you seen those light tester things? I got mine at Hobby Lobby – with a coupon – but they are worth every penny! They can even “fix” a broken spot in the wire so the rest of the strand lights up. You can test each bulb without having to move the strand. Very cool – this saved us tons of headaches when I was the student council sponsor at the high school!

    • Cassie, I saw an ad for those on TV. Amazing…wonder how that works? It probably doesn’t work if the fuse is blown. I’ll have to look for one of those. I’d love to know how it fixes a bad wire…truly amazing

  58. I don’t know how they work — just that it does! As for the fuse, if you test the lights and they all test as good … then maybe that means it is the fuse. It might have a fuse tester too. I can’t remember exactly as I didn’t have to break it out this past Christmas…but I used it the year before on a pre-lit tree with a section that wouldn’t light.

  59. Hi, this comment is a year late but with snow just now (February) deciding to fly, I’m still perusing Christmas spots. Two years ago our vacation home was on a holiday house walk. My 15 yr old daughter & I were there a few days early to finish the final setup. We were assembling the final tree when half of the tree wouldn’t light. We checked bulbs, fuses, etc. Nothing. As we were 45 minutes from major stores we had to come up with our own solution. We ended up taking the lights off the ENTIRE tree, branch by branch, by little wire, by little clip. It was horrible! My daughter learned the lesson that ingenuity is a necessity but I also drilled into her head that somewhere someone has the job of assembling these artificial lights…a job she decided she did not want! A good reason to study at school. I’ll never buy a pre lit tree again.

  60. Glenda Niederhofer says

    Thanks for the tip……I have a baggie full of extra bulbs & fuses. Put the coffee on……I’m on my way over to visit & sit a spell on that wonderful porch. If it gets too cool, we’ll just move on in to that gorgeous breakfast room. I love to follow your blog……can’t wait to see your Christmas decorations. Blessings to you & yours for a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  61. Here in Stuart, Virginia the weather is quite crazy, too. We were nearing 70 yesterday and they are call for ice Sunday night; very tricky. Loved your post..Merry Christmas!

    • Thanks, Lynn! it’s been crazy here, too. Last night I thought we were having a tornado the rain and wind was so strong. Our temps have been high, too. Very strange for December. Stay safe.



  63. I will definitely take a look at our trees to see where their “secret fuse compartment” is. I’ve had this problem happen before and just got so frustrated that I went out and just bought another tree!!!

    One more suggestion on how to pry those suckers out of there: my husband is a doctor and keeps several surgical forceps here at home. If you have forceps (especially the size used specifically for suturing in close spaces), they work GREAT on wedged in stuff like that!!!

  64. This is perfect information for me right now! I just put up the tree and I have a couple dark spots. I just turned them to the back cause I couldn’t figure out how to fix them. Now I’ll give this a try!

  65. peter bergquist says

    Do you know anywhere where i can buy a replacement male plug with fuses? I need to replace the whole plug…

    • I just googled and also looked on Amazon and didn’t see anything. You may have luck finding lights in a thrift store/donation store at Christmas and taking the plug from those.

  66. Fabulous post—-a great reminder to REDO and REUSE…our thrift stores are full of expensive-huge trees, with one set of lights out—such a waste, I wonder how many end up in landfills!

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