Leaving on Vacation

Inevitably, summer travel time is when things go wrong in your house. From a burst pipe to an invasion of ants, here’s how to minimize your chances of Murphy’s Law taking over while you’re relaxing on a beach.

The big things:

• Shut off the main water supply to your house. This will likely disable your sprinkler system as well, so weigh the pros and cons of having your lawn watered versus a broken toilet leak in your house.

• Set your hot water heater to the “vacation” setting, or turn the temperature down. This will save electricity while you’re away.

• Set your thermostat to 82 degrees. This, too, will save electricity. Setting any higher than 82 may allow too much heat and moisture to accumulate in your house and could cause other problems, such as warping of wood floors and cabinets, spoiling food contents in your pantry, and could even damage electronics.

• Clear out your refrigerator as much as possible and turn the setting one notch warmer. Since you won’t be home opening the door, the unit will stay cooler and with fewer contents it won’t have to work as hard to keep things cold.

• Put a hold on your mail. If you will be gone for more than a few days, ask the post office to hold your mail. An overflowing mailbox or packages left on your front doorstep are sure signs to potential intruders that you’re away.

• Contact the local police department and ask them to keep an eye on your house while you’re gone.

The little things:

• Water all of your houseplants before you go.

• Vacuum your house, especially areas where you’ve eaten, including windowsills and corners of countertops to get up any crumbs that could invite ants or other bugs. Wash counters and tables for the same purpose.

• Hire someone to mow your lawn if you’ll be gone for longer than a week. Another sure sign of an empty house is an unkempt yard.

• Unplug electronics – the TV, power strips, computer, toaster oven, etc. This will help prevent an electrical short, potential fires, and damage to these appliances.

• Set a timer on one or two lights to help your house look “lived in” and ask a friendly neighbor to park their cars in your driveway occasionally.

• Take out the trash – the kitchen, bathroom and office cans should be empty. Again, to prevent pests but also to prevent bad smells.

Talk with a trusted neighbor about your travel plans and ask them to keep an eye out for any unexpected package deliveries or issues with your house while you’re away. Leave them with your emergency contact information and travel itinerary. You’ll have peace of mind that your home is being watched so you can relax and enjoy your trip!