Note: Homeowners are encouraged to work with their installers to maintain their lighting systems.
Maintenance Check List:
- Ensure that all lamps are working, Optional: Replace all system lamps every 18-24 months.
- Clean allo fixture lenses (a CLR solution works well) and remove dirt and debris from inside and outside all fixtures. RainX™ or similar hydrophobic treatment may be applied to lenses.
- Trim or prune plant material as needed.
- Check that all fixtures are positioned and aimed optimally.
- Remove debris from around Spide Splice® junctions to ensure ongoing access.
- Check that no buried wires are exposed or damaged.
- Confirm that timers and photocells are operating properly. Clean these units and trim plant material (if needed) to ensure photocell exposure.
- Replace timer battery (Model CTDTC only) once a year.
- Tighten all screws in transformer terminals.
- With system powered on, confirm that primary amerage matches the amerage recorded at installation. If it does not match, troubleshoot system to determine cause.
- Lamp Replacement: If a lamp is not working, turn off power then (if needed) remove shroud, cap, or body to expose lamp. Using a clean cloth, grasp lamp and make sure it is firmly seated in socket. Turn power on to check again. If the lamp still fails, replace it with a good lamp.
- Cleaning fixtures: Bronze and copper fixtures that still have their natural un-coated finish should be wiped with a cloth to remove dirt and other detritus. If persistent stains are present due to bird droppings or other causes, then a wire brush or coarse steel wool can be used to remove the stain. Complete the cleaning process with a damp cloth being careful to remove any steel particles. Note that excessive use of the wire brush or steel wool will remove the surface patina.
If needed, a mild soapy solution can be used on the fixtures, but any kind of detergent or cleaning solution may cause changes to the colors of the surface patina.
Each fixture should be opened and inspected. Dirt, insects and other foreign material should be removed. If insects have invaded the fixture, then an appropriate insecticide can be applied inside the fixture to prevent future infestation.
- Cleaning lenses: Convex lenses in CAST fixtures reduce precipitation of solids on lens surfaces, but some precipitation still occurs. The most effective cleaner for lenses is CLR® solution. This solution is applied to the lens and wiped dry with a cloth. Persistent stains may be removed with a scrubbing pad. Rain-X or similar hydrophobic solution may be applied to help prevent future precipitation on the lens.
- Inspection of Spider Splices and wire run: Locate each Spider Splice junction and remove any material that may have obscured it. Open the junction, pull out the splice bundle, and clean the enclosure if needed. Visually inspect all areas where wire has been run. If wire has been exposed, re-bury wire.
- Transformer and Electrical Maintenance:
Unplug transformer from the GFCI receptacle. Remove the cover from the transformer.
Using a flat-head screwdriver, tighten the set screws at the top and bottom of each terminal block.
If needed, wipe the inside of the transformer to clear away dirt and debris.
Plug in the transformer (set the timer to manual and cover photocell). Using a CAST clamp-on amp/volt/ohm meter, apply the clamp to each common wire. Note each reading and compare with the initial system readings as recorded on the inside of the transformer lid. Values should not differ by more than about 10%. If the amp reading for a wire run is significantly different than the recorded reading, then test the voltage at each fixture on that run. If the voltages are not within 10.5V to 12.0V, then troubleshoot the problem.
The CAST landscape lighting system is composed of the highest quality components designed to function optimally for an unlimited length of time. To ensure this longevity of operation and to maintain the system integrity, we recommend a schedule of ongoing maintenance.
This maintenance is required to keep components clean; to relamp fixtures and adjust their placement; to check the operation of transformers, timers and photocells and to check on the integrity of wiring and electrical connections.
Ideally, the installer will include a maintenance agreement with the initial contract. The terms of the agreement may vary according to the size and complexity of the system and other factors relating to the relationship with the homeowner.
What Determines the Maintenance Schedule?
Typical maintenance intervals range from once every 6 months to once every 18 months. The optimal service interval depends on climate, complexity, and vulnerability of the system, plant material, budget, and relationship with the homeowner.
Extremes of temperature can shorten life expectancy of system components. High heat and humidity may accelerate socket and wire corrosion and shorten lamp life through an increase of operating temperatures and deterioration of lamp pins and contacts. CAST lighting components are designed to minimize such corrosive damage but it is likely that some electrical components may need replacement after an undeterminable number of years.
Extreme cold temperatures may also affect system performance. A drop of 40º F can result in a decreased wire resistance leading to a voltage increase of as much as 0.5 volts at the fixture*. This may be enough to significantly decrease lamp life. The cold temperature also increases the thermal shock imposed on lamp filaments during start-up, contributing toward early lamp failure. The CAST No-Surge Soft-Start Technology minimizes this shock.
Some Northern regions are also prone to frost heaves caused by the expansion, contraction and displacement of soil. Frost heaves can move fixtures and break wire.
- Complexity and Vulnerability
The bigger a system is, the more likely that maintenance issues will surface. For this reason alone, more frequent maintenance visits are advised. There are also many factors that make a system more vulnerable. In such cases the maintenance schedule should have shorter intervals.
Factors that increase vulnerability of a system:
1. Use of higher voltage taps. While it is sometimes necessary to use higher voltage taps, this increases the vulnerability of lamps to successive burnout (one lamp burnout leads to premature burnout of other lamps on the run.)
2. Fewer numbers of fixtures on a single wire run. Risk of successive burnout is also increased by fewer numbers of fixtures on a run.
3. Landscaping work. Despite the installer's best efforts to bury and protect wire runs, landscape workers may damage wires.
- Plant Material
As plant material grows, fixtures may need to be repositioned and re-aimed. Lamp types may also need to be changed.
- Budget and Relationship
It is often a hard sell to add a maintenance program on top of an expensive lighting system (especially when it’s sprung on the homeowner at proposal time). A common approach that works well is to give one-year free maintenance, after which a billed maintenance schedule begins.
Some installers decline to take on a lighting project if the homeowner refuses the maintenance program. The wisdom in this is evident when you consider that a great initial installation (without ongoing maintenance) can turn into an eyesore and damage the reputation of the installer.
Successful contractors sell the project up-front as an ongoing relationship rather than a one-time design and installation.
The Importance of Documentation
System maintenance is greatly facilitated when the installer records system data in the following places:
- Fixture Record Tags - For fixture/Lamp-specific data
- Transformer System Record Forms (Located inside the transformer lid) - For Transformer-specific data
- Spider Splice Caps - For wire-run identification.