If you plan to go on a month-long cruise or spend the winter in a warmer climate, your home will be empty for a long time. If you don’t plan ahead, you could come back to problems like burst pipes, mold, insect infestation, or even burglary.
There are some things you can do to prevent these disasters. Here are five things to do before leaving for an extended vacation.
Turn off the Water Supply
Shut the outside water supply off when your house will be empty for a while including turning off your water pump and water heater. You’ll need to drain the pipes too. Any water left in the pipes can freeze during cold weather, causing pipes to crack or burst.Photo by John Loo
Open the faucets to run out any water in the pipes. Winterize your toilet by adding antifreeze to the tank. Flush the toilet, then empty the water out the bowl.
If you’re away during warm weather or have a pool or spa, you may choose to leave your water supply on. Keep the pool and spa pump and filters on to prevent algae from growing. You can turn the spa’s heat off to save energy.
Change Heating and Cooling Settings
You’ll need to decide whether to lower the heating and cooling settings or turn these systems off. If you leave any water on in the house, you’ll need to heat the house enough to avoid frozen pipes.
The temperature in your house can be set lower than when you’re at home. In the summer, you can turn your air conditioner down or off.
You should always perform regular maintenance on your heating and cooling systems. Proper maintenance keeps your systems running efficiently while you’re home and away on an extended vacation.
Set Timers for Lights
Houses that are dark every night for a while can make your home a target for burglars. You want to make it look like someone is home at night. Set various lights to turn on and off at different times and days of the week. Outdoor motion-activated lights can deter burglars also.
Suspend Mail and Newspaper Delivery
An overflowing mailbox is a sign that no one has been home for a while. Have the post office hold your mail while you’re gone. Stop the newspaper delivery too. Piled-up newspapers also alert would-be thieves that the house is vacant.
Clean out the Kitchen
Your kitchen is a breeding ground for problems when you’re away. To stop insects from taking up residence, throw out any open food items, and clean out the sink and garbage disposal. Empty the kitchen trash and take it outside. Ask a neighbor to take your cans to and from the curb on trash day.
Don’t come home to stinky appliances. Clean the food out of the refrigerator. Leave your dishwasher and washing machine doors open until they are completely dry. Any moisture left inside will allow mold and mildew to grow.
Take these precautions to help protect your home while you’re away for a long time. You can relax during your vacation knowing that your home will stay clean and safe.