Going on Vacation? Do This!
These quick, simple tasks can help prevent coming home to a disaster.
Turn Off the Main Water Supply
Closing the valve on the main supply line cuts off water to the house but still allows outside sprinklers to work. If you do spring a leak inside, the line will be under some initial pressure, but it will not continue to spray water. “Instead of thousands, literally thousands, of gallons of water, you might have 50 gallons from the hot-water tank leak,” Spaulding says. “There is no downside whatsoever [to turning off the water]. It takes a little bit of time, and it can save thousands of dollars in potential damage.”
Check the sump pump
Another type of water—rainwater—can also be a nightmare. If your sump pump fails while you’re gone and a major storm comes around, you could return to a flooded basement.
So make sure the sump pump is working before you leave town. Dump a bucket of water in there so you don’t get that kind of surprise when you come home.The pump should turn on when the pit fills with water.
Turn Up the Thermostat—But Don’t Turn Off the A/C Unit
If you have a programmable thermostat, Spaulding says, you’re golden. “You can set and hold the temperature to have the house at 85 degrees while you’re gone [in the summer], then the day before you get back, get it down to 72,” he explains. If you have a manual thermostat, it’s still worth turning it up while you’re gone to avoid wasting energy. You’ll just have to deal with a hot house when you get back.
If any of your televisions, computers, stereos, and other electronics are plugged directly into the wall rather than into a surge protector, pull the plugs in case a power surge happens while you’re away. If you do have them all run through surge protectors, you can simply flip the switch to power them off.
Light rooms with timers
To make your house appear occupied while you’re gone and a less appealing target for burglars, put timers on lights in different rooms of the home. The timers turn on and off the lights at different times of the night, as if someone in the house were flipping a switch. Timers are available at home centers for less than $10 a piece.