Problems With Christmas Tree Stands

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It's the day you wait for all year: You've pulled out your tree lights and other holiday decorations, and you're ready for the holiday season to officially begin. All that's left is to put the tree up—but your tree stand isn't cooperating.

Whether you're a real tree household or a pre-lit artificial Christmas tree household, use these tips to troubleshoot one or more common tree stand problems.

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Then, you'll be ready to transform your living room into a holiday wonderland!

The tree stand is old or damaged

Christmas tree stands, like everything else, wear out over time. Give the stand a thorough checking over before putting the tree into it.

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  • Check the legs and the joints‌. If the stand has multiple legs, make sure all legs are solid and that the legs don't move around easily. You may have a stand where the legs slot in; if these now slide in too easily and there is any movement at all, it's time for a new stand.
  • Check the screws‌. If it has a tree stand key or other screw mechanism to tighten the stand, ensure that the holes have not stretched and that the screws are still a tight fit.
  • Check online for a tutorial‌ from the tree stand's manufacturer or from reviewers. If you're concerned that the legs of your tree stand aren't inserting correctly, or have some other assembly or operation issue, a video tutorial demonstrating your model of tree stand could help.

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The stand leaks

Christmas tree stand problems end in January; floor problems don't. If you have expensive wood flooring and a live Christmas tree, a faulty stand that leaks water can cause devastating damage to your flooring.

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Thoroughly test your stand outdoors first so you can avoid damages from leakage. If there is any water escaping at all, ditch the stand and buy a new one. Stands designed especially for wood floors are available, and they cost a lot less than getting your flooring replaced.

If your floors aren't wood and the stand leaks only a little bit, lay down a piece of plastic sheeting and a towel before setting up the Christmas tree. That should help prevent damage to the floors until you're able to get a replacement stand.

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Is your tree stand's water reservoir a problem too?

Allowing a live Christmas tree to dry out is a major fire hazard, so it's absolutely critical that trees have adequate water. The rule of thumb is to expect a live tree to need 1 quart of water per inch of its diameter per day. So if your tree trunk is 4 inches across, the tree needs 1 gallon of water per day. If you're too busy or gone too often to replenish the water every day, you need a tree stand with an extra-large reservoir that holds at least a few gallons.

The tree won't stand up

To keep your Christmas tree standing proud, the stand needs full contact with the floor. If you find that, for example, two legs are tight on the floor, but there is a gap under the third one, get rid of the stand.

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Do not be tempted to try to pack something under the third leg to give it stability; this may work with a table in a bar, but that isn't bearing the load of a fully decorated Christmas tree. (That said, it's probably a safe DIY solution if you're using a lightweight artificial mini tree covered with lightweight, unbreakable decorations and it wouldn't be the end of the world if your tree fell over.)

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DIY your own Christmas tree stand!

If your floors are uneven, or you just want to try a slightly unconventional approach to Christmas home decor, make your own Christmas tree stand using a galvanized bucket or other vessel – no tree skirt required. A DIY Christmas tree stand is perfect for displaying fake Christmas trees, mini Christmas trees and/or kitschy plastic Christmas trees. And this is one of those easy DIY projects you can do while you have one eye on a Hallmark movie.

A rotating stand won't rotate

Revolving stands are becoming increasingly popular to show off Christmas trees, but they are not without problems. The heavy duty rotating Christmas tree stand of the 50s and 60s is a thing of the past, and modern versions aren't nearly as sturdy. A heavy 7- or 8-foot tree might be too big for your stand to work properly.

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The girth of the trunk needs to be taken into consideration, too, as it must slot in tightly right to the bottom. Weight and measurement are key with these stands. If the tree is too heavy, it won't revolve properly, if at all, and if the girth is wrong, it will just tip over.

Troubleshooting your tree stand might delay your decorating schedule, but it's well worth the effort. Once the tree is up and you're confident that it's stable, you're ready to start the fun part—tree decorating!—without worrying that it's going to topple over.

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