When you get ready to go out of town, you always plan your trip. However, what about your home? Make sure you take the right steps to prepare your home for vacation.
We do not travel very often. Or, if we do, it is a weekend away here or there. However, I always make sure that I have our home prepared for our travels. The last thing we want to do is come home to damage or burglary. We also want to make the transition back home as seamless as possible.
Before we ever leave our home for vacation or an extended period, I have a list things we always do! Make sure you do these too!!
GETTING YOUR HOUSE READY TO LEAVE FOR VACATION
It may seem really strange, but if you clean your home before you leave, it can make it easier to come home. When you walk into a clean, organized space, you only have to focus on unpacking your suitcases and settling back in.
There is no clutter. There are not dirty dishes waiting. You also don’t have to try to squeeze in cleaning after you’ve returned from a relaxing time away.
Turn off the water
If you are going to get a leak in your pipes, it seems it always happens when you are not at home (Murphy’s Law). It takes a tiny leak to cause major damage to your home.
Make sure you close the water main to your home. This will cut off the water flowing into your house, but will not prevent sprinklers from working.
However, if you are leaving during the winter months, do not shut off your water as that could lead to freezing pipes. During this time of the year, turn on one faucet so that there is a small amount of water running, which can prevent this from happening.
Place a hold on your mail
Don’t forget to place your mail on hold. When you return, you will need to stop by the post office and pick it up. You can set up your mail hold on-line with the post office.
If your mail comes to you in a lock box or you have a locking mailbox, you may be able to skip this step.
Check the thermostat
Make sure you adjust the thermostat setting while you are away. You do not need your house to be “comfortable” if no one home. That is a waste of money.
When you run your air conditioner, increase the temperature to 85. But whatever you do – do not turn it off! Keeping the unit running allows air to circulate, so it doesn’t have time to condensate. It also keeps the house from turning into an oven, which can affect flooring, windows and more.
On the flip side, when running your furnace, make sure you lower the setting to 62. You do not want the house to be too cold, which can also have adverse effects, such as freezing pipes.
One simple way to manage your heating/cooling settings is with a programmable thermostat. You can set the temp to be higher until the day you will return, and you can lower the setting, so it is comfortable when you get home. You can even look into a NEST thermostat, which you can control with your smartphone.
It seems this is one that many people forget. Take a minute to unplug any and all electronics which are plugged directly into the wall. Make sure you do this for small appliances, televisions, chargers and even computers. If any are plugged into a surge protector, you can just flip the switch to cut the power to the device.
The bonus is that this saves you a little on your electric bill as those items do not pull power, even when sitting unused (called vampire voltage).
Put your lights on timers
You want to protect your home from potential burglaries as well. One simple way to do this is to use a timer for your lamps. Set the light to come on at dusk and then turn off at your usual bedtime.
One additional thing you might want to use is a FakeTV light. It is an LED light which gives the illusion of the television being turned on (but uses the same power as needed to power a nightlight). You can deter theft as it appears you are home.
These do have timers built in, but they are just 4 or 8-hour settings. You might want to consider plugging yours into a wall timer so that it will turn off and on at the time you would like.
Double check the sump pump
The last thing you want is for your sump pump to fail while you are away from home. If you have heard it running recently, you should be in good shape. However, as an added precaution, it is good to test it.
Fill it up with water until the pump kicks on. That way, you know it is working, and you won’t come home to water backed up in your basement due to a failed pump.
Stop the newspaper
A stack of newspapers in the driveway is a signal to a thief that you are away from home. Stop them from being delivered or ask a neighbor to pick them up for you every day.
Another way a thief can tell that someone is not home is when the law and landscaping are not trimmed. Take the time to do this right before you leave so that it is not overgrown. If you are gone for an extended period, consider hiring someone to do this for you.
Put antifreeze in your toilet (winter months)
During the winter, this is an important step to prevent your toilet from freezing (in the instance where your furnace stops working). Turn off the water and then flush the toilet. That will drain the water out of the tank. Pour some marine antifreeze into the bowl (this is non-toxic). When you get home, turn the water back on and flush the tank and you’ll be back in business.
Let your neighbors know
Have a chat with your neighbors (as long as you know and trust them) to let them know that you will be leaving town. Ask them to remove fliers that may be stuck in the door and just watch for any activity that may be out of the norm.
Double check the locks
It may seem simple, but even one unlocked window could be an open invitation to thieves. Check all of the windows and the doors – even those on the second floor of your home.
Consider a security system
There would be nothing worse than someone breaking into your house without anyone knowing. You may want to consider adding a security system before you leave.
If that is not an option, you can purchase a ring doorbell or camera system. If someone comes to your door, you will see it on your phone, no matter where you are in the country.
Park the car in the garage
If a car stays put and does not move, thieves will notice. Keep your vehicles parked inside your garage.
Clean out the fridge
You certainly do not want to be smacked in the face with the smell of spoiled food. Clean out your refrigerator before you leave. Don’t forget the veggies and the milk as these can sour rather quickly.
Take out the trash
Once you clean out the fridge, make sure your trash is taking out as well. If you will be gone during your regular trash pick-up, ask a neighbor to take it to the curb for you. You do not need spoiled food trapped in a hot garage waiting for your return.