If you’re like many families, you travel a lot during the holidays to spend time with family and friends. In the process, you leave your home for often days at a time, and sometimes weeks. In order to avoid having problems when you get back, make sure to prepare your home for while you’re away. Our tips should help you avoid frozen pipes and pests, and a variety of other potential issues.
Insulate Your Plumbing
If your plumbing isn’t already insulated with pipe sleeves or other types of insulation, make sure to get it done. Under sinks, in crawl spaces, basements, and attics aren’t heated as well as other areas in the house leaving pipes exposed to the elements. Pipes that freeze could burst causing thousands of dollars worth of damage. You should:
- Detach any hoses from outside faucets and drain them. Store hoses in the garage or shed.
- If you don’t have frost-proof spigots, close the interior shut-off valve leading to that faucet, open and drain the spigot, and install a faucet insulator.
- Check for under-insulated areas of the house and beef up them up.
- Have a water flow sensor and low temperature sensor installed on your main water supply pipe and hooked into a constantly monitored alarm system or your smart phone.
Save On The Electric Bill
No need to spend extra on your electric bill while you’re away. Save by doing the following:
- unplug all unnecessary electrical devices: toasters, computers, TVs, tablets and clocks draw power while plugged in and unused.
- Keep the refrigerator running
- Unplug everything else
- Turn down the thermostat: Keeping the temp at 50 degrees will prevent frozen pipes
Check Seals on Doors and Windows
Make sure windows are tightly shut and that air isn’t seeping through cracks under doors. If necessary, install weatherstripping to both. If your walls are under-insulated, consider adding insulation to walls and spending the extra money to do so.
Perform Routine Maintenance
- Have your heating system inspected and serviced before winter. Have your fuel tanks filled before you leave, and ask someone to check on heat and fuel levels regularly while you are gone.
- Be sure to maintain electrical power if required to keep the heating system running. If electrical service to the home is to remain on, consider having a licensed electrical contractor inspect your main electrical panel, wiring and outlets, if necessary. This way, they can repair or replace anything that may be defective.
- Have your roof inspected before you leave and clean your gutters to help prevent ice from building up.*
- Remove dead trees or large overhanging limbs that could damage your house.
- Unplug all unnecessary appliances before you leave. Make sure you can retrieve messages on your home answering machine or voicemail so it does not indicate FULL or unattended when someone calls.
Be Ready For Emergencies
Make sure your house is safe and protected if you’re away for extended periods. You should:
- Leave a phone number with a family member or neighbor.
- Let the local fire department know you’ll be away for and extended period of time
- Make sure any house pets or plants are cared for and maintained
- Check all smoke alarms and other detectors and make sure they’re working
That should do it! Enjoy your vacation and don’t worry for a second about the house.