Whether you spend a lot or a little on vacation, the last thing you want on your return is to be greeted with a costly repair problem. Even a simple mistake, if left unchecked, can lead to major repairs.
That’s why we recommend taking these 10 important steps to help ensure your property is protected and secure.
1) Program your thermostat correctly.
Never turn off your heating or cooling system. Instead, set the heat no lower than 55 degrees when you leave for winter vacations, to prevent pipes from freezing. And for summer vacations, set your thermostat to 78 degrees, to keep humidity down while saving energy while you’re away.
2) Check your water outlets.
Make sure your toilets are not running and ensure that no faucets are leaking. Check your hose bibs and if you can, turn them off from the inside to prevent any possible issues with freezing in the winter or leaking in the summer. You may even want to turn off the main water supply, though this is not recommended unless you have your home professionally winterized or you’re familiar with the winterizing process. If you do choose to turn off your water, be sure to also turn off your water heater (and your boiler, if you have hydronic heat). (Also see #6)
3) Check your sump pump.
If you have a sump pump, check to ensure that it is working properly and is free of debris. You may even want to install a battery-backup system. Power failures, frozen pipes or excessive rain can all spell disaster for your sump pump and your basement. If your area experiences a major storm while you’re away, it may be a good idea to call a friend to verify that your pump remains in good working order. (Even if you haven’t left a key, you may be able to grant access through your garage door, or with a digital security system.
4) Check your windows.
Make sure that all of your windows and doors are locked, weather tight, and shades are drawn closed.
5) Unplug everything that you can.
Save yourself some money and reduce energy consumption while you’re away by unplugging everything but your timed lights and your security system. Don’t unplug your refrigerator, of course, but try turning it to a slightly higher setting.
6) Water your plants.
Indoor plants need to be watered once every 7-10 days. Considering asking a neighbor to do this for you, or find a house-sitting service. For outside landscaping, you can install a soaking hose on a timer, especially if you live in a dryer climate – but do so judiciously, as any water bib left on could become a leak. If you opt to turn your water off, many landscaping services offer watering trucks that can water your yard or gardens for you.
7) Put baking soda in your drains and toilet to prevent any unwanted odors.
There’s nothing worse than being welcomed home by odors that aren’t very welcoming!
8) Take steps to keep your home secure.
If you have an alarm system, notify your alarm company of the dates that you will be away. If you do not, inform your trusted neighbor(s) that you are away and ask them to keep an eye on things. Be sure to remove any outside spare keys from the “usual” spot and put the key in a new place that only one or two people know about. Additionally, to make it not so obvious you are out of town, we recommend that you invest in a timer for your outside lights and perhaps one living room light that turns on for a few hours each evening.
9) Take out all your garbage.
Empty your trash cans to eliminate odors and to make ants, rodents and other pests less likely to move in when you temporarily move out.
10) Stop your mail service.
Visit the USPS website to fill out a simple form that requests that they hold your mail for the dates of your stay. Your local post office will hold your mail for up to 30 days. If you will be away longer than that, you can schedule monthly deliveries of your mail to your temporary address. You can also notify other delivery services and ask that packages be held until your return.
With a little bit of preparation, you should be able to rest assured that your return will be no more stressful than your time away!