This is the question we find ourselves having to answer for many of our new clients: Can we repair this old system, or will it be better to simply put in a new one?
When we come out to give customers an assessment, we do our best to be straight and up front about the state of their lighting system. Our clients want straight answers. We want to be honest, sometimes a system is in serious need of an overhaul, but often times a system just needs a tune up. Most of the time it all depends how it's been maintained.
Sometimes a system just needs a few simple repairs. Performing a tune up can do a lot for an older system that has been well maintained. This is especially true when the system was built with quality components and sound installation techniques and engineering.
There is no way around it: every system will require a certain level of maintenance to ensure it is kept in working order.
You may be asking yourself something, "I do have my system maintained, so why have my lights suddenly stopped working?"
There are a number of reasons for this. Here are some reasons you might need to have some repair work done.
- Has work been done on or around your property recently?
It’s possible that your lighting system could have been disrupted while work was being done. For example, a wire could have been cut by a shovel when your gardener was planting that new tree.
I’ve even seen wires get damaged after new heat tape was installed on customer’s roof line. Looking back at recent work that’s been done on or around your home may give you an insight into why your system needs some repair work done.
- Has only a zone or section of lights stopped working?
This is the tricky part. When a zone of lights goes out after years of continuous reliability, it will require some troubleshooting to discover what the issue could be. Any number or combination of things causing the sudden, seemingly inexplicable, failure in your otherwise dependable lighting system.
- It could be that a wire has suddenly become pinched between two rocks after years of freeze-thaw cycles causing the earth to rub against the wire.
- A small amount of moisture could have entered a socket causing an arc to continually trip the breaker inside the transformer.
- That broken fixture that was removed but never had it's lead wire properly capped is now creating a tripped system.
- Something has pierced or cut a wire somehow.
- The transformer's terminals need to be tightened because the wires for a run aren't getting sufficient contact.
- Instead of purchasing and installing 20 Watt halogen lamps to replace the failed ones, a homeowner accidentally brought home 50 Watt lamps and now the system is being overloaded.
We've barely skimmed the surface. The list goes on and on. It could even be a combination of different things that are creating a need for repairs to a lighting system. But in any one of the numerous examples, it will need to have troubleshooting completed to discover the reason if it isn't plainly obvious.
How do we determine when it's time for a system to be replaced? First off, you need to have a professional come in and evaluate the current state of the system. We've seen lots of lighting systems in poor working order. As a homeowner, you see your system everyday, the issues may not be as apparent when you aren't looking at your system from the outside.
The biggest thing to look for is broken fixtures. If fixtures are broken, cracked, corroded, bent, etc., it's already looking pretty bleak. When we also see exposed & frayed wires, bad or ruined wire connections, or even a completely rusted transformer, we know we are looking at something severe.
These types of problems aren't easy fixes. Even though our technicians are highly skilled and could, after replacing many of the components & some intensive surgery to the lighting system, get things back up and running. It would be like sticking a bandage over a bullet wound.
It isn't a permanent solution or fix, and we can't guarantee and of the work we've done. Chances are the system will begin to experience technical issues again sooner or later.
My Experience as a Technician
As a field technician, I experienced something that I think will help demonstrate what I mean. I once came across an aluminum bullet light that looked like it just needed to have a light bulb swapped out. The truth: it was actually internally corroded to the point where the bottom and top of the fixture were completely fused together.
I tried for a half hour to pry, twist and tear at the fixture. I did everything I could to rip the two pieces apart before accepting that the two halves would never separate again without breaking the fixture. It really wasn't worth trying to repair this fixture because it was simply too far gone.
There wasn't any point, it was impossible to repair. Even if I had managed to separate the two pieces, they would have just fused back together later. It would have cost our client more to have us try and attempt to repair this fixture than it it would to simply replace it with a new brass fixture that came with a lifetime warranty.
In some cases, where we are looking at replacing, most of the system will be in good working order. It might only be one aspect of the system that isn't working and needs to be replaced. .
During a consult with a client, I could tell they worked hard to keep their lighting system well maintained. It was apparent to me that their system looked to be in good condition; with the exception with just one thing.
The up lights all looked to be working, there were only minor sections with exposed wire, and the transformer looked to be in great shape. The only problem was the aluminum path lights. Most of them were broken & had snapped off tops. The few with their tops still standing had been duct taped to rebar stuck in the ground to hold them up. These fixtures were finished, there was no repairing them.
Seeing what they had undergone from just everyday use, I recommended that they all be replaced with new path lights built from sterner materials. Instead of aluminum, I recommended fixtures built from heavy duty copper & brass components that would come with a lifetime warranty.
I explained that if anything were to happen to these new path lights, we would repair or replace them. We were able to work out the details, and the client opted to have the rest of the lighting system upgraded to LED while we were there.
Maintaining your lighting system is the key to ensuring it remains in tip top shape. But we understand that from time to time a system just needs a little extra love. Our goal in helping our clients is to see to it that they are happy with a system that works for them. It's just that simple.
To learn more about how to light your outdoor living space, call us at (801)440-7647 or feel free to simply fill out a contact form on our website, www.utahlights.com
Located in Midvale, Landscape Lighting Pro of Utah serves throughout Utah's residential areas, including Salt Lake City, Park City, Draper, Davis & Utah Counties. Our outdoor lighting portfolio includes projects throughout Utah and beyond.