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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

7 Things to Do Before You Leave for Vacation

9/21/2016 (Permalink)

7 Things to Do Before You Leave for Vacation

These quick, simple tasks can help prevent coming home to a disaster.

Turn Off the Main Water Supply

If you're going to have a leaking supply line, it's going to happen while you're away. And a major leak could be catastrophic if there's nobody around to deal with it.

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. 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, 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. 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.

But don't turn off the air conditioner or furnace during your vacation. You want to keep the air circulating so it doesn't have time to condensate —it keeps the house from turning into an oven, which can impact wood doors, cabinets and flooring. You can have tremendous heat buildup, which can have an effect on surfaces like wood floors. Since wood expands when it's warm, excessive heat could cause the flooring to expand and buckle, and doors to not close properly.

The same goes for winter travelers, but in reverse. Turn down the thermostat while you're at Aunt Betty's for the holidays, but don't turn off the furnace completely, which could put your pipes in danger of freezing.

Keep Flowers Alive With a Soaker Hose

If you'll be gone for several days and don't have an in-ground sprinkler system (or a neighbor kid who can water your garden), use a soaker hose to keep the flowers or veggies watered. You can to set up your hoses on a timer to turn them on and off at preset times.

Unplug Electronics

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 protects, O'Grady says, you can simply flip the switch to power them off.

Plus, unplugging electronics or turning off the surge protector can save you some coin. All of these electronics are drawing power, even when they're not in use. And that vampire voltage adds up. The Department of Energy estimates that the average U.S. family spends $100 annually to power devices that are turned off or in standby mode.

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. You want to leave the house looking like it's lived in.

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