Outdoor Decorative String Lights Not Working

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Old 06-07-20, 06:10 PM
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Outdoor Decorative String Lights Not Working

Here's what I know:

- I've had these lights for years with no issue
- A few years back a squirrel chewed off one of the light bulbs leaving the wire exposed. It did not affect the rest of the strand. I taped up the useless wire and no issue since.
- A couple days ago the lights didn't turn on. I replaced the cartridge fuse and instantly blew. Bought another fuse and again it blew right away. I bought a delay just to make sure the lights did in fact turn on. They did before the fuse blew.

I'm at a loss. I feel like that has to be related since I don't have any issues elsewhere but if that's the case is it essentially causing a short all of a sudden? If so, could I connect the two wires that should have fed that bulb that's missing? I'm fairly handy but electricity is not my jam.

Thanks in advance!
 
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Old 06-08-20, 05:39 AM
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Hi, if you have had them for years I would check the entire string for shorts, Ultra violet sun light and do a job on insulation, are these plugged into an outside receptacle? if so unplug them and see what happens, find the short before replacing anymore fuses, post some pics of the squirrel damage.
Geo
 
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Old 06-08-20, 06:00 AM
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The instantly blowing fuses sounds like there is a short somewhere in the string. You can use a multi-meter set to continuity and go down the string wiggling and moving everything until hopefully you can get the short to open. Or, string lights are inexpensive. After three years it's time for a new string.
 
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Old 06-08-20, 08:42 AM
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Here's a picture showing a comparison of chewed off bulb vs normal light bulb. It is on an outdoor receptacle but I've already checked to make sure that's ok. How would I do a continuity test if the two ends are 50 feet apart? The expense of switching out the lights is no big deal. It's more about process.
 
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Old 06-08-20, 08:56 AM
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Hi, to do a continuity test you would have to remove all of the bulbs, one must have a plug on it, how is the other end terminated ? make sure that end is open neither conductor touching then put the Ohnmeter leads between the 2 blades on the plug, it should read an open circuit , if not find where 2 conductors are shorted, are those sockets molded onto that cable or are they clipped on by screws?
Geo
 
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Old 06-08-20, 09:12 AM
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The sockets are molded on and they are all screw-in light bulbs. It's essentially a heavy gauge extension cord with one male (plugged in) and one female at the end of the strand.
 
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Old 06-08-20, 09:23 AM
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OK, so all you really need to do is remove all the bulbs and use an Ohmmeter on the end with the male plug.
itís hard to tell from the pic what is going on with that Squirrel damage.
Geo
 
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Old 06-08-20, 11:08 AM
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I apologize for being an electrical moron but why do I have to take the bulbs out first? Could I not do the test with them still in? One other thought I had was to setup my phone on slo-mo and replace the fuse, plug in the lights, and see if any lights don't go on. I would use a delayed fuse then go back and look at the video. Thoughts?
 
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Old 06-08-20, 12:21 PM
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Hi, if you donít remove the bulbs you will show continuity through the filaments. Your choice on the SLO Mo camera, I wouldnít suggest it.
Geo
 
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Old 06-08-20, 12:39 PM
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Got it, thank you! I will keep you postd.
 
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Old 06-09-20, 10:10 AM
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Alright so I had one delay fuse sitting around so I tried my video. Every single light turned on before the fuse blew again. Does that tell me anything?
 
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Old 06-09-20, 10:35 AM
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Hi, are these glass fuses you are using, what type of fuse ? Post a pic. there may be another way to TS this.
Geo
 
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Old 06-10-20, 06:27 PM
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Here's a picture of same size and type. The cartridge fuse blows and is dark cloudy every time. These are the instant but I was using delayed. Light strand says 8A max.
 
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Old 06-11-20, 05:58 AM
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Hi, so that fuse is inline with the string, this maybe a long shot but is there any water leaking into any of the sockets, this happens on occasion with underground conductors when water leaks into the conduit and after a period of time the insulation fails and causes the breaker to trip, did this start after the Squirrel damage? try removing a few bulbs and see what happens.
Geo
 
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Old 06-25-20, 08:17 AM
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After being out of town for a bit I did some further investigating based on your suggestions and wanted to give you an update. I took down the lights and pulled every bulb. There was some moisture in a few of the sockets. Plugged the strand in and fuse blew. So I tested continuity between every socket and found a number of them that were either showing no continuity or a very high resistance. Some of the sockets had some corrosion so Iím wondering if over time it just became too much. $150 later I have a new 100 ft set on the way.
 
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Old 06-25-20, 12:23 PM
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Thanks for letting us know, Hi resistance will contribute to the issue.
Geo
 
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Old 06-26-20, 08:32 AM
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If the lights go on nearly full brightnes before the fuse blows then you have a "medium resistance short."

Most likely the short was still there with all the bulbs removed namely in the wiring as opposed to in a bulb.

Debugging strand of lights is usually a tedious time consuming process particularly with miniature Christmas lights. Hence it is very common to just discard the old strand and replace it. Especially when you go through many fuses just trying things out.
 
 

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