Most of us that live in the Midwest just suffered through the polar vortex, so we are aware of the kind of damage winter can inflict. Severe weather like this effects everything it touches: car batteries, water pipes, and even outdoor lighting. No matter how strong and reliable your outdoor lighting system is, there will come a time where mother nature wins out. Thankfully, Erickson Outdoor Lighting has multiple dedicated service technicians that can come out to your property and solve any and every issue that arises with your outdoor lighting. Nevertheless, there are some instances where something that appears to be a major problem actually turns out to be nothing at all. This is why it’s crucial for homeowners to have a basic understanding of how to troubleshoot their outdoor lighting system before calling us.
Imagine this situation: you’re preparing for a big weekend house party with friends. You’re running all over your house trying to clean up and set out food, when all of a sudden you notice a big dark spot on your elegant stone wall. All the lights on the wall are lighting up except for one.
Without checking the fixture you assume this is a burnt bulb, so you reach out to us for a service call. The technicians here at Erickson Outdoor Lighting are definitely quick to respond to service calls, but odds are we aren’t going to be able to get to your house on a weekend night before your party starts for a single bulb. However, if you took the time to further investigate the issue instead of assuming it’s a burnt bulb then you may realize you can fix the issue easily yourself.
As shown in the photo above, once the vegetation was pulled back we found the fixture was simply knocked out of it’s stake. It was still emitting light, but it was aiming it directly into the mulch. All our technician had to do was reattach the fixture into its ground stake, which is easy enough for homeowners to do themselves. Therefore, if you had some basic knowledge of how to troubleshoot outdoor lighting issues then you could have solved this problem yourself before any of your party guests arrived. So what exactly should homeowners know about troubleshooting outdoor lighting?
First, you should be able to identify the issue. Is the issue effecting the entire system, a group of fixtures, or one specific fixture? Is the issue steadily reoccurring, or is it sporadic? This may sound self explanatory, but it’s very easy for us to make assumptions before taking the time to dissect the situation at hand. Once the issue is fully spelled out homeowners can begin to investigate the source. More often than not, the source of the issue can be identified by the number of fixtures malfunctioning. If the whole system is out, the issue is probably with the transformer. Sometimes transformers can be flipped off from an electrical surge, so you can try flipping the inside switch back on. Also, make sure to check that the outlets’ GFI was not tripped, and reset that as necessary. Finally if both of those don’t work, check that the timer inside the transformer is set up correctly. If there appears to be no timer inside the transformer then it’s because you utilize a photocell timer (usually located on the exterior side of the transformer). If none of this fixes the issue, then it’s a larger problem that our service technicians should handle.
If only one or two fixtures are not functioning, then investigate the fixtures directly. Re-bury the fixtures into the ground if they fell out of place, trim vegetation that may have grown over the fixture, and if possible check to make sure the bulb/bi-pin did not get knocked loose from its socket. If these all check out okay then the issue is probably a burnt bulb, wiring issue, or a damaged fixture, all of which our technicians should handle. There’s also a chance that multiple fixtures grouped together could all be out. If this is the case, then it would be wise of you to just call us right away rather than try to investigate it yourself. This is typically a sign of a larger issue that is out of the homeowners control.
Don’t misunderstand us; everyone here at Erickson Outdoor Lighting is always happy to come help you with any and every lighting issue that may arise with your system. However, it never hurts for homeowners to have the ability to troubleshoot minor issues on their own in case of a last-minute emergency. If you have any questions about outdoor lighting in general, or if you’re experiencing any concerning issues with your current system then call us at 952-474-4536.