Protect Your Home While On Vacation | Vacation Preparation Tips
Are you leaving home for July 4th weekend or another vacation in the coming months? As homeowners are getting ready for their summer vacations, it's important to make sure your home is ready for the trip as well.
Not only is it important to secure your home from would-be thieves, but it's also necessary to check your plumbing, electrical, and HVAC systems before you head out for vacation. This way, you can spend your money on more souvenirs or vacations rather than fixing a preventable problem when you arrive back home.
How to Prepare Your Home for Vacation
Learn how to protect your home and save money and energy while you are away from home with these pro tips. In addition to the tips provided below, seriously consider having a professional inspect your plumbing, electrical, and HVAC systems for a long vacation. This will make sure that your home is fully protected while you away and that all of your manufacturer warranties remain valid.
- Turn off the main water supply to prevent any water damage from leaking pipes and other plumbing problems. Learn where your main water meter is and how to turn it off for vacation. The water meter will also have a leak detection dial, informing you if you have an existing plumbing leak or not. If you are leaving for vacation during the winter months, learn how to prevent pipes from freezing while you are gone. Also for winter vacationers, after turning the water supply off, flush your toilets to drain any water from the tanks. You will still have water left over in the bowl - pour some antifreeze into the bowl before you depart to avoid any possibility of broken toilets from freezing and expanding water.
- Inspect sump pumps and test to see if it is working properly or not. If there is a storm while you are away, a working sump pump gives you peace of mind by taking care of any water in the basement while you are away. You can do this by calling a professional (which should be done annually anyway), but you can also quickly test its functionality by pouring a bucket of water into the sump pump container. The motor should turn on and the water should clear out of the sump pump basin to an outdoor drain. If it's not running, make sure it is plugged in and the circuit has power. Check sump pump drainage by inspecting if the discharge pipe is properly draining the water outside. Learn more basement waterproofing tips here.
- Improve drainage and downspout systems to prevent basement flooding. Clean the gutters, check basement for leaks (interior and exterior foundation), extend your downspouts, inspect sewers and drainage, and consider back-flow valves for your sewage drainage lines. Learn how to improve drainage around your home here.
- Turn down the water heater dial to "low" or "vacation" mode. Your hot water tank will continue heating a huge amount of water while you are away, wasting money since there is nobody home to use it. Use the vacation mode, don't turn off the power. When you get home, turn the dial up to 120 degrees, not the standard 140 degrees, since the higher temperature unnecessarily raises your energy bill and causes the potential for scalding. Also, consider purchasing an insulation blanket to conserve even more energy.
- Raise the thermostat, but don't turn it off. While you are away, you will want your HVAC system to turn on every once in a while to maintain healthy humidity and temperature levels. If you have a programmable thermostat, remember to set itto a lower temperature 12-24 hours before you arrive back home. If you have a manual thermostat, however, you can still turn the temperature down while away, but will enter a hot house when you get back. We recommend turning up the thermostat to 80-90 degrees and not any higher. This will protect temperature-sensitive appliances and objects in your home, like your refrigerator. If you have expensive books or art, you may want to speak with a professional about the ideal humidity and temperature for your precious items.
- Turn off lights and unplug electronics. Even when not in use, plugged-in electronics still use up energy. It's sometimes referred to as "vampire energy" and can significantly and unnecessarily raise your utility bill. For this reason, many homeowners choose to plug in their devices into a power strip so that they can easily turn off power to all the plugged-in devices with the toggle switch on the power strip. According the U.S. Department of Energy, the average homeowners spends about $100 a year on the idle energy used by plugged-in devices.
- Consider light timers and sensors. It's a lot easier and cheaper than you may think to install light timers for your home. The purpose of doing this is to make your home appear to be occupied when it isn't. You can buy light timers at most home improvement stores for around $10. If you want motion sensors for your outdoor lighting, you will need to speak with a professional about your options. We recommend updating your security and landscape lighting and having motion sensors installed for the driveway and porches. Motion sensors combined with light timers will add inexpensive safety features to your home while you are away. You can also add light timers to your outdoor lights. If you don't have whole-home surge protection or a backup generator, you may want to consider investing in them for added protection for you home, family, and electrical devices.
- Keep your lawn and garden healthy. If you're going to be gone for more than a couple of days, make sure your in-ground sprinkler system is working (or pay a neighborhood kid to water your plants and garden while you are away). Water timers for hoses can be purchased at your local home improvement story and they are fairly easy to install. Mow your lawn shortly before leaving on vacation to keep the grass levels low. Tall grass, mail buildup, dark homes, and other signs could tip off passersby to your absence.
Other Things to Consider:
- Don't announce your vacation plans on social media. Wait until after your return to tell everyone about your time away.
- Depending on the length of your absence, consider stopping newspaper and mail deliveries for the time being. You can also have a trusted neighbor pick up your packages for you.
- Trim the bushes and trees around your home to provide a clear line of vision to your doors and windows. Burglars love hiding spaces so get rid of as many as you can.
- Lastly, invest in a good home security system.
Gold Medal Service offers 24-hour service and customer support so even if you experience a pipe emergency in the middle of the night, we're there for you. If you need help insulating your pipes or replacing old, deteriorating ones, don't hesitate to give us a call.