Preparing to leave for vacation can be a lot of work. There’s all the planning, packing, and preparations. And then all of a sudden you realize you’ve not prepared one of your most valuable investments: your home. What if a pipe bursts while you’re gone? Imagine the potential damage when you return a week later. Will your home appear empty and be an easy target for burglars? Returning home to a burglary would ruin the whole vacation. Thankfully, you don’t have to learn these lessons the hard way.
Before heading out of town, whether for two days or two weeks, here are 10 steps you should take to help ensure your home is safe and sound, so you can rest easy on your vacation.
Why run the risk of leaky pipes, a running toilet, or burst pipes while you’re gone? Find the water main - usually by the road in front of your house, and turn it off. This will keep water from running to your sinks, water heater, toilets, icemaker, dishwasher, washing machine, and any other water supply.
Before heading out of town, play it safe and turn off any running appliances, especially any that are gas. Don’t leave the washer, dryer, or dishwasher running. You never know when your appliances will malfunction and cause possible catastrophe. Also unplug anything else electrical to save money and energy.
Why waste money and energy by heating or cooling your house when no one is there? Set your thermostat to 55 degrees in the cool weather to prevent the pipes from freezing and 85 degrees during the warm months to prevent possible damage from humidity. For long absences, turn down the temperature on your hot water heater as well.
Contact your local post office and newspaper carrier or visit them online to place your mail and newspapers on hold. An overflowing mailbox and yard full of newspapers are telltale signs that a house is vacant.
A great way to make your home look lived in is to install timers on your exterior and interior lights. When lights, television, or radio come on in the evening, it makes the appearance that someone is home. It’s best to have them come on at different times each day. If you don’t have timers, just leave a few lights on.
While you’re away, have a trusted friend or neighbor keep an eye on your property. Have him or her regularly check on things to make sure everything seems safe and secure. If you have a home security system, contact the security company to let them know of your absence. And if you feel it necessary, let your local police know you’ll be gone as well.
In case of an emergency, make sure a relative, trusted friend, or neighbor has your contact information. It is also a good idea that you leave behind a spare house key with a trusted family member or friend.
Well in advance of your departure, it’s important to line up care for your pets. Many people choose to board their animals at a kennel or with a professional pet sitter. Others pay a neighbor to stop by and feed and water their pets. However you choose to do it, just make sure your furry friends are taken care of in your absence.
Pets aren’t the only living things at your house. If you have houseplants or a garden that needs tending, arrange for someone to water them. It may help to gather all your houseplants into one area to make for easier watering.
If you don’t trust your neighbors or those that drive by, then don’t pack your car where everyone can see. Otherwise they’ll know you’re heading out of town. If you have a garage, pack inside. Or perhaps pack at night or over the course of a few days.
Following these 10 simple tips will help to keep your home safe and will set your mind at ease as you leave it behind. Now go enjoy your vacation!