Landscape Lighting Maintenance Tips (How To Avoid Costly Repairs)
Proper cleaning and maintenance can extend the life of your landscape lights and keep your system functioning properly. While little maintenance is needed, there are some tasks that should be performed once or twice a year, or as needed, to avoid more expensive repairs later.
This list provides the basics for landscape lighting maintenance. Some maintenance needs may be particular to the type of outdoor lights you have, so be sure to check the manufacturer’s website or talk to your outdoor lighting installer about specific maintenance requirements.
Always remember to disconnect your landscape lights from the electrical source before cleaning or performing maintenance tasks.
How Do I Maintain My Landscape Lights: 8 Steps to Clean and Maintain Outdoor Lights
1. Cut back plants and branches.
The first step in maintaining landscape lighting is to cut back any plants, shrubs or trees that are on the fixture, too close to the fixture or blocking the light. Clearing these obstructions will help avoid damage to your fixtures, allow for proper illumination, and make it easier to perform other cleaning and maintenance tasks.
2. Remove debris from fixtures.
The next step is to remove debris from your light fixtures. This may include mud, dirt, fallen leaves or debris left from insects. This step can improve illumination, make your outdoor living areas look cleaner, lengthen the life of your fixtures and, in some particular cases (such as with older fixtures that give off heat), avoid fire hazards.
3. Look for exposed or damaged cables.
Even if your landscape lights were professionally installed, it is possible for cables to become exposed, which can then also lead to damage to your electrical wires. This can occur if you have dogs or kids who like to dig in the yard, from harsh weather over time or in high-traffic areas.
If you have exposed lines, be sure to check them for damage before burying them. Once you have determined there is no damage, rebury them to avoid damage and tripping hazards. If you are not sure if the lines or damaged or are not comfortable checking them for damage, call in a professional electrician to take a look at them and rebury them for you.
4. Check fixtures for damage.
Check each of your landscape lighting fixtures for broken lenses, dented metal, corrosion or other damage. You may need to order parts or replace some of your fixtures if damage is present.
5. Replace bulbs.
Many homeowners are now opting for LED landscape lighting, which virtually negates the need for changing bulbs. However, if you have older styles of light or your LEDs are not shining quite as bright as they used to, you may need to periodically replace some bulbs.
Some folks prefer to bring in an electrician to change the bulbs, particularly since he or she can also check for corrosion within the socket and make any necessary repairs.
6. Clean metal or plastic components.
Now that your landscaping lighting is in working order and has had the proper maintenance, it is time to clean the fixtures. Before cleaning the glass on your outdoor lights, clean any metal or plastic components. You can likely accomplish this with a soft rag and soapy water, but there may be times when you need to take your cleaning to the next level. If you choose to use stronger substances, be careful that you do not damage the metal and test an inconspicuous area first. For example, while distilled white vinegar can be helpful in cleaning rust off of some metals, it can cause visible damage to other metals.
In the case of most metals, it is best to use a polish specifically formulated for that kind of metal. For some metals, it can be helpful to apply a coat of wax (like you would use on your car) once or twice a year to provide better protection from the elements. However, you should check the manufacturer’s website or discuss this with your landscape lighting installer first.
7. Clean glass lenses.
Once the metal and plastic components are clean, it is time to clean the glass lenses. You may be able to do this with water and a soft cloth or soapy water and a soft cloth. If you need a stronger solution, one of our landscape lighting vendors recommends using CLR and a Brillo pad to clean glass lenses.
8. Check and adjust fixture positions.
Now it is time to check the positions of all of your fixtures and make sure they are illuminating your outdoor living areas as desired. While your installer will have, of course, positioned your fixtures at the time of installation, it is possible for some fixtures to be moved or to need adjusting. For example, ground fixtures may have been jostled by a lawn mower or knocked out of position by one of your dogs — or when you were just cleaning them.
You may also need to adjust outdoor lights to accommodate your changing landscape. For example, highlighted trees or shrubs may have grown, you may have replaced plants with other options or you may have moved statuary.