Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer and this year pent-up vagabonds promise to make this the heaviest travel season in years. If you’re among the millions heading out this summer, keep your home safe and secure during your absence by following these tips before you leave home.
Disconnect Energy-Wasting Electrical Appliances
Modern appliances usually draw some electrical current even when they’re off. This so-called phantom or vampire current can use a fair amount of energy over an extended period unless the item is unplugged. That includes TVs, Wi-Fi networks, computers, microwaves, coffeemakers…anything with a clock, timer, or internet connection. It also protects them against damaging power surges during storms.
Turning off you network router also keeps hackers away while you are. And don’t advertise your trip on social media until you’re back home. You never know who’s watching.
Turn your water heater to its low or vacation setting if it has one, but don’t drain it. And set your thermostat to 80-85 degrees to minimize needless air conditioning use. Or turn it off if you think it won’t get too hot inside.
Keep a Lived-In Look
Burglars are opportunists who look for easy targets. Discourage them by setting timers on lights to have them come on and off at times the rooms would be in use. Set window coverings to make it hard to see inside without giving the house a barricaded look and keep valuables out of sight.
If you have pets, consider a pet sitter—or better yet, a house sitter—rather than boarding them. Barking dogs or other visible pets are good deterrents.
Be Wise About Water
Water causes millions of dollars’ worth of damage to homes every year. Turn off the supply valves to appliances like washing machines, icemakers, and dishwashers that have supply hoses that could burst while you’re away.
Put vacation holds on mail and newspapers and have a reliable neighbor check for flyers and packages. If you’ll be gone for more than a week or so, hire a lawn service to keep the grass trimmed. It not only keeps the house looking lived-in but may save you fines from your HOA. Put photoelectric cells or motion detectors on exterior lights. You might even ask a neighbor to park their car in your driveway occasionally.
Make for a Happy Return
Clean out foods that will spoil from your refrigerator and make sure all trash is emptied. Run a final load of laundry and dishes before turning off the water supply to those appliances. No one likes returning to a dirty house, so give it a good cleaning. Make the beds with fresh sheets and put out clean linens in the kitchen and baths. If you’ll be gone for an extended period, consider hiring a cleaning service to have your home fresh and clean for your arrival.
Anticipate and Solve Problems Before Leaving
Check for leaks and drips in your plumbing and have them fixed. Replace washing machine and other supply hoses that are nearing the end of their useful life. For washing machines, that’s around five years, tops. Be sure your air conditioning and water heater are working well and set to your vacation settings. It’s a good idea to test your sump pump, too.
Check that outdoor lights function properly and add more motion detectors if desirable. Test your indoor light timers for function and set them for the times you want.
If you have any concerns about proper operation or safety with plumbing, heating or electrical systems, call a pro to check them before your leave.
Be sure to make advance arrangements for things like health and trip insurance. Take sufficient prescription meds for you and your travelling companions and check out where you can get them filled in case you lose or run out of them.
Make sure your phone(s) will work on foreign networks and check the rates for roaming and out-of-network charges by your carrier. You may be better off changing plans or getting a phone at your destination. Browse the internet for cell phone travel tips. And don’t forget your chargers.
Foreign Electrical Issues
If you’re travelling in most of the Western Hemisphere, your appliances will probably be compatible with local electrical connections. But Europe, Africa, and Asia are a different matter.
Most locations overseas use 240-volt power instead of the 120 volts common in the West. Fortunately, adapters are readily available at many local retailers and online services. A quick online search will yield many options. Before buying, check out this article for details on what works where.
Help is Just a Call Away
If you have questions or need help with your vacation preparations, the pros at Allstar Electrical Services are just a phone call away. We’ve been serving homeowners and businesses along Colorado’s Front Range for over 20 years.