The holiday season is in full swing, and for many families, that means lots of time away from home, possibly even a trip out of town to visit friends or relatives. Before you become too busy with packing up presents, you should take some steps to ensure your home stays in good working order, whether you’re around or not. Here’s a handy checklist of things that can help your home be comfortable and safe during the holidays:
- Get an HVAC inspection – You should always have your system inspected before colder temperatures creep in, but it’s never too late to have your unit checked. Regular maintenance can prevent smaller issues from becoming large ones and provide peace of mind when you know you won’t be home.
- Change furnace filters – Replace the filters in your air handling unit to cut down on the possibility of system breakdowns and to improve your home’s air quality.
- Adjust the thermostat – If you’re planning on holiday travel, leave the heat on to prevent pipes from bursting, but lower the temperature to keep energy costs down. Adjust the thermostat to about 50 to 60 degrees. If you have a programmable thermostat, activate the vacation settings.
- Move flammable objects to safe places – Keep items like blankets, wrapping paper and toys away from any heating systems. Always do a quick check for these items before traveling.
- Unplug appliances that aren’t in use – Electronics that are plugged in consume electricity, even when they aren’t being used. This also will help prevent fire hazards when you’re away.
- Prepare for winter storms – Clear the yard of any low-hanging tree limbs, overgrown shrubs, and other debris that could possibly restrict air flow to the outside unit. Check to make sure your gutters are securely attached to the house – heavy snow or ice can pull gutters off the roof and potentially lead to extensive damage.
- Take care of pipes – If a pipe bursts or leaks when you’re not home, it can cause a lot of damage. When you know you’ll be away for several days, turn off the water supply to your home and turn on one of your faucets to help drain the lines. Keep your home’s furnace running at about 55 degrees to prevent pipes from freezing. You might also want to shut off water to your washing machine and dishwasher.
- Make sure your detectors work – An important HVAC safety measure any time of year is to have working fire and carbon monoxide detectors. These can provide peace of mind that your HVAC system is not a hazard.
- Get rid of the stink – The holidays seem to bring an influx of food, but most of it will spoil within a few days. Go through your refrigerator, and throw away any food or condiments that won’t survive your absence. Also consider cleaning out sink traps to minimize the possibility of bad odors while you’re gone. And don’t forget to empty the trash in your house, bringing the cans to the curb if you’ll be gone on your designated trash day.
- Tell a friend or neighbor – If you’ll be away for more than an overnight trip, it’s a good idea to let a trusted friend or neighbor know that you’ll be out of town. Ask him or her to check on the house and even bring the mail in, so that your absence isn’t as noticeable. Tell your friend the steps you’ve taken to prepare the house for your time away – it can help him or her realize if something is amiss and report it to you right away.
Water damage, electrical fires and many more disasters can cost thousands to repair. By taking these easy steps, you can help protect your home from damage and enjoy your vacation knowing your home is safe.