Whether you’re visiting relatives for the holidays or making a pilgrimage to warmer climes for the winter, here are some tips on how to make your home safe while you’re away and pleasant to return to.
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. Turn your water heater to its low or vacation setting if it has one.
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.
Be Wise About Water
Water causes millions of dollars’ worth of damage to homes every year, and if it occurs while you’re away, the result can be disastrous. Shutting off the main valve to your house is the best insurance, but it’s not always practical, especially if your home is heated by hot water or steam. You may also want to have running water for house and pet sitters.
In that case, turn off the supply valves to appliances like washing machines, icemakers, and dishwashers that have supply hoses that could burst while you’re away. And be sure to keep your house warm enough to avoid frozen pipes—55-60°F is the minimum. If you have water pipes on an exterior wall in the kitchen or bath, leave the sink and vanity cabinet doors open to let warm air reach the pipes.
Put vacation holds on mail and newspapers and have a reliable neighbor check for flyers and packages. In snowy climates, hire a snow removal service. It not only keeps the house looking lived-in, but may save you fines for not keeping sidewalks clear. Put photoelectric cells or motion detectors on exterior lights. You might even ask a neighbor to park their car in your driveway occasionally.
If you haven’t already, check your gutters and downspouts for blockages to avoid ice dams and other drainage problems. And be sure all your hoses are disconnected and faucets are turned off, preferably inside the foundation.
Make for a Happy Return
Clean 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 furnace and water heater are working well and set to your vacation settings. It’s a good idea to test your sump pump, too, especially if you’ll be gone during the spring thaw.
Check that outdoor lights function properly and add automatic switches 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.
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 since 2000 and are top-rated by the BBB and Angie’s List.