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Inspecting and Upgrading Existing Lighting

If you have lights in your landscape, at some point you might consider upgrading (or even replacing) your current installation. Here’s why.

If your landscape lights were not professionally installed, it’s possible that the wiring wasn’t properly buried, if it was buried at all.

Low-voltage cable is still a wire and electricity runs through it. Exposure to the elements, especially water from rain or irrigation systems, can cause shorts or other electrical problems.

Unburied wiring is exposed and can be tripped over, cut by gardening tools when plants are being trimmed or replaced, or inadvertently pulled out of the wire connectors. Your landscape lights will cease to function, and you may not easily be able to determine exactly where the problem is. All you’ll know is one or more of your lights are no longer lighting up.

Light fixtures require some maintenance. They need to be inspected regularly and the lamps and fixtures may need to be cleaned. In some older fixtures, the lamps may have burned out. Some lamps are not removable from the fixtures, and once the lamp stops working that fixture becomes dark and useless.

Fixtures get moved. Raking leaves and debris, weeding, or changing mulch and seasonal color in the flower beds can affect the positioning of the fixtures, which affects the target area of the light. In other words, the light may no longer be lighting what you intended it to and may in fact be lighting something else, like a window where the light can shine inside. It’s also possible these fixtures weren’t placed correctly in the first place and aren’t targeting the proper landscape and architectural elements.

You may not even notice that parts of your landscape lighting system are not working unless you’re out looking at your landscape in the dark, and some people rarely do that.

The good news is that a professional can inspect your existing landscape lighting system and troubleshoot things that aren’t working as they’re intended. And they can fix them.

A professional landscape lighting technician can check the functioning of your transformer and verify that it still has the appropriate wattage available to handle the load from your downline lights.

They will trace the wiring and be sure there are no nicks or cuts in the cable and the power is available at the correct strength at each stop all the way to the end of the line. They can clean the fixtures and check to the lamps. If the lamps are removable, they may be able to replace them. If they’re integrated and not replaceable, you’ll likely need a new fixture.

At the end of the inspection they’ll tell you what’s wrong, what they can fix, and what it might cost to get your system working correctly.

They may suggest a full replacement, particularly if your lighting system is solar (see our blog post “What’s Wrong with Solar Landscape Lights?”).

It’s a good idea to have your landscape lighting system checked at least once a year, just like you have your heating and air conditioning components checked and maintained regularly at the change of seasons.

There is a nominal cost for the inspection, as well as parts and labor for any repairs. It's pointless to have elements of landscape lighting in your yard that don't work.

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