Planning for your family’s annual summer vacation? Besides remembering what to pack, there are some things you should check in your home before you leave. A lot can happen while you’re away, from power surges to leaks, so it’s important to establish a checklist a few weeks before leaving to prepare the house for your absence. Having a relative or a friend to check in on your home is always a good idea, as well.
Here are a few things to check before leaving home:
1. Turn down the temperature. Don’t make your thermostat work so hard while you’re on vacation – let it take a vacation, too. There’s no need to keep the air conditioner (or the heater, during winter trips) going full blast when you’re away. Keep the thermostat set at 78 to 80 degrees during the warm months and 60 to 65 degrees during cold months. A programmable thermostat will allow you to change the temperature back to normal before you arrive home from vacation.
2. Lower the set point on your hot water heater. There’s no reason to heat water while you’re away from home. Newer units allow you to set the water heater on “vacation mode," allowing the water heater to only run occasionally while you’re gone.
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3. Shut off water valves to prevent any water damage from occurring. Turning off the water at the main shut-off valve will help prevent any possible plumbing leaks. However, if you need to keep a water supply on tap for automatic lawn sprinklers or for someone checking on your home, at least turn off the water supply to washing machines, dishwashers, ice-makers and toilets.
4. Unplug unnecessary appliances or electronics to save energy. Unplugging appliances, toasters, water softeners, computers and other technical equipment not only saves energy, but it also protect these items from a power surge from a storm. Unplug anything that’s not a requirement.
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5. Clear your storm drains of all debris. Heavy summer storms that dump a couple of inches of water in a short period of time can cause damage if water backs up around your home.
6. Make sure your sump pump is functioning properly, so you don’t come home to a basement full of water from summer storms.
7. Lock all windows and doors. This seems obvious, but it can be easily overlooked in your haste to get on the road.
8. Leaving some lights on while you’re away also can be helpful in protecting your home from intruders. Set timers for lights or purchase day/night sensors that you can add to flood lights to switch them on and off.
9. Close blinds and shades to keep the sun out and keep your home cooler. They also prevent would-be thieves from seeing your home isn’t occupied.
10. Get smart. It never hurts to embrace the newer technology that is currently on the market. There are all kinds of apps you can download on a smartphone that allow you to monitor your home. Install smart locks on the front door for additional monitoring. Purchase a wireless thermostat that you can control from your smartphone.
By following the items on the checklist, you can enjoy your time away from home knowing that your house is protected.
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