Mikes Landscape Lighting is celebrating our 10th anniversary in 2023! We have been asked this question quite a bit over the last 10 years: ‘why aren’t my landscape lights turning on?’. If the person calling is a client that we installed and are performing annual maintenance (see our blog on maintenance), then we know it is probably something simple that is causing the problem and we will discuss this first.
What do our technicians look for when performing a service call for lights not working on one of our maintenance clients that we installed? The very first thing we check is the GFCI outlet that our transformer is plugged into. What is a GFCI outlet? GFCI stands for Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupter. They are designed to interrupt the power when they sense a ground fault. The most common ground fault on a GFCI outlet is moisture. Moisture can be caused by a recent thunderstorm or a sprinkler head out of alignment or even an outlet going bad. GFCI outlets are only designed to last 5 to 7 years. Our technician will check the reset button on the outlet itself to see if it has been tripped. If it has, we will reset the GFCI, and our technician will walk around to make sure all the lights are working and that everything will be working properly.
If the GFCI has not been tripped, then the technician will go on to the next steps. The next two steps will be inside the transformer. First, they will check the timer to make sure it is still set correctly – maybe the lights are on during the day instead of at night and turning on as they should. If they find something wrong with the settings on the timer, they will reset the timer and check all the lights. If the timer is working, they will then check the circuit breaker for the secondary side. The secondary side is the 12-volt side. If the breaker is tripped, there could have been a wire cut or it could have been a lightning strike nearby causing it to trip as well. If this is tripped, they will reset the breaker and begin their diagnosis to find the cause. Some of the things the technician will look for are new digging that may have cut a wire, fixtures not working, newly exposed wires, etc. This process is multiple steps and can take quite a bit of time. We do not recommend that an untrained person perform these steps. Rest assured, the technicians that Mike’s Landscape Lighting will send out are qualified to perform this diagnosis.
What do we do when the person calling in to report a problem is a prospect we have never worked for in the past? Our team starts by asking this person a series of questions like these; How old is the system? Has there been maintenance performed on the system regularly? Did all the lights stop working at once or has this been going on for a while? We will also ask them if they have checked the GFCI or the timer, like above, to help them avoid a service call in the first place. We ask all these questions to get an idea of what we are going to encounter when we get to the service call. When we get to the service call, we will walk the property with the client to get an idea of what we are working with. We will turn the system on, see what is working, and check the status of the fixtures. Was this system designed and installed by a professional or did the homeowner install it, did they use quality fixtures or fixtures from a hardware store, what do the electrical connections look like, watertight, or not? Some repairs can cost thousands of dollars, and we need to help determine if their system is worth that expense and advise them if they should repair or replace it. Our clients have praised us because we usually try to “repurpose” as much from an older lighting system as possible. Sometimes we can just rewire everything because it wasn’t done right the first time, sometimes we just need to replace the transformer, and other times we find a simple wire cut that we can fix immediately. We will do what is right for our clients, every time.
Whether you have a new lighting system or an older system, Mikes Landscape Lighting’s team of Certified Low Voltage Lighting Technicians can help you fix your system. Please click the link here to reach out to our team now.