It’s understandably frustrating when your landscape lighting stops working.
Finding the Cause
The first question you need to ask yourself is why aren’t my lights working? I completely understand how silly this sounds to ask: there's a good chance if your lights weren’t working, you wouldn’t be here reading this right now.
However, humor me for a moment: think back to when you first noticed an issue with your lighting system. Have you had work done around your property recently? Was your gardener working in the yard the day before you first noticed your lights stopped working?
Sometimes the reason a lighting system experiences issues can be a direct cause and effect from work that’s been done around your property. I have two examples from times I’ve personally seen this happen to our clients.
(Path lights in the grass are NEVER a good idea!)
Example 1: Recently, a client I was assisting had two lights that weren’t working. It turned out that a wire run was damaged by their tree removal service providers. An established tree had been cut down and when the large stump was ground out the landscape lighting wire came into contact by the grinder. An honest mistake that our service tech easily remedied for our client.
Example 2: Another time someone called us because the downlight over their back patio had gone out. When we investigated, it had turned out the wires to this light had been cleanly cut and completely removed. We asked the owner if he knew anything about why his wire was missing. Turned out he had just had new heat tape installed for his roofline the week before. For some reason, the handyman who did the heat tape had cut out and completely removed our wires instead of working around them. We went ahead and ran new wire for him and it working again.
I know, frustrating. But luckily these sorts of issues are relatively easy for a low-voltage lighting technician to troubleshoot and repair when compared to bigger issues we’ve seen with some lighting systems out there we didn’t install.
If you don’t just have a light or two out, if your system has lots of exposed wire, if many of your fixtures are broken or corroded, then we are talking about a something completely different. We are talking about something that can’t be simply fixed with the wave of a magic wand.
When a system is built from poor components and not engineered properly, it’s set up for failure. It’s something we unfortunately see more often then we’d like.
(If you’re interested, check out THIS ARTICLE to learn more about why systems out there aren’t being built and engineered correctly)
Don’t get me wrong.
With a team of expert lighting technicians, it is 100% possible to get a decrepit lighting system working again. The real question is whether or not it’s worth having a lot of expensive work done if the work can’t be warrantied and if you might find yourself back where you started a year later.
How Do You Know What Shape Your System Is In?
Here are some things to look for when trying to self-evaluate what condition your system is in.
When your fixtures are damaged or in serious disrepair, it should be pretty obvious. Are the top hats to your path lights broken off? Are the posts to any of your path lights bent? Are any ground stakes cracked or broken are your lights laying on the ground/ do your lights need help to stand up straight? Do some fixtures spin in place when you try to reseat them to their ground stake? Are any fixtures leaking or filled with water? Do any fixtures look like they are flaking & corroded? Are some of your directional up lights half buried in mulch? Do your fixtures look like they are supposed to?
If you have composite fixtures then it’s almost guaranteed they are going to fail. Plastic just doesn’t stand up well in the outdoors. The fixtures we see break down and fail the most are consistently built from aluminum and composite.
It can be difficult to be objective when you are close to your system and see it every day. But if things don’t look like they are supposed to, if things look broken and damaged, then you may want consider your other options.
Wire can be a little more difficult to evaluate since it’s buried underground. But if your fixtures all look damaged and corroded, then why assume that your wire is going to be in better shape?
More often than not, the wire will be exposed in multiple places in a system that’s in rough shape. In addition, there could be frayed/cut wires hidden underground.
Wire connections are the weakest point in any given landscape lighting system. If the connections aren’t waterproof (greased wire nuts aren’t waterproof), then the wire will have been introduced to moisture. Not good.
The transformer, the box that powers your lighting system and converts your 120v down to 12v, tend to be pretty reliable.
However, we’ve seen transformers in older systems that have completely and utterly failed. When a transformer fails, there is no repairing it. It will simply need to be replaced.
Is it Time to Replace?
Sometimes repairing a landscape lighting system can be done quickly and effectively when it’s just a light or two out. But when the entire lighting system is fundamentally flawed and set up for failure, the only way to fix your landscape lights, really fix them, it to replace your system with a new one that is built to last.
Landscape lighting systems require regular care a maintenance. The outdoor environment is a brutal place for your lighting system. If it isn’t looked after or if it’s allowed to fall into disrepair, then repairing it can be like putting band aids on bullet holes: it might help for a second, but you’ll just end up back where you started.
If your lighting system is falling apart/in a state of disrepair, don’t let it get you down. Try looking at it as an opportunity to start over and have your system done the right way.
Landscape Lighting Pro of Utah has been providing people with quality lighting systems that are built to last for the years to come. With our lifetime warranty and beautiful designs, we set people up for a successful experience.
Landscape Lighting Makes All the Difference
At Landscape Lighting Pro of Utah, the art of outdoor illumination is a real passion we work to perfect. Designing elegantly bespoke landscape lighting systems is simply all we do. For over 15 years, our award winning team of designers and craftsmen have striven to bring the best outdoor lighting experience possible to people’s homes and businesses across the Wasatch Front and beyond.
Located in Midvale, Landscape Lighting Pro of Utah installs, maintains, and repairs lighting systems throughout Utah's residential areas, including Salt Lake City, Park City, Draper, Davis & Utah Counties.
If you have an upcoming project you’d like help with, call us at (801)440-7647 for more information, schedule a free consultation, or feel free to simply fill out a contact form.