Before going on a summer vacation, we all tend spend a lot of time focusing on getting out the door- packing, checking the itinerary, maybe even getting the car’s oil changed or finding a sitter for a pet. But it’s just as important to prepare the biggest thing that gets left behind- your home! Here’s a few small but important things you can do to ensure your homecoming will be just as relaxing as your time away.
1. Turn off the water
Shutting the main water supply to your home off while you’re gone is the easiest way to prevent flooding that could occur due to a burst pipe or any other plumbing issue. Even a minor leak can be a big problem if there’s no one around to spot it and quickly solve the problem, and a bigger leak can be catastrophic. Closing the main supply line’s valve will cut off water to the house, but not to any outdoor sprinklers. This way, if a leak does occur inside, there will only be some initial pressure on the line but it will not continue to spray. If you don’t want to turn off the water to the whole house, make sure to at least close the hot and cold water valves on your washing machine hoses!
2. Check your sump pump
Another potential source of water-related trouble comes from something you can’t fully control- the weather. If the sump pump fails during a major storm or even a few days of continual rain, you’ll return to a flooded basement or crawlspace, which puts a serious damper on your post-vacation relaxation. It’s easy enough to check the pump’s function: just pour a bucket of water into the sump pit (the area around the pump) and wait to make sure the pump kicks on. If it doesn’t, call a plumber ASAP. An extra level of security involves installing a sump pump that has a battery backup. This ensures that even if a storm knocks out the power to the rest of your house, the pump will still operate.
3. Turn the thermostat up- not off
It may seem like the best thing to do with the thermostat when you’re away is turn it off entirely, but that’s not the case, and here’s why: even if it only kicks on occasionally, keeping the air running will ensure that it circulates through the house, which can prevent the buildup of condensation from heat. Too much heat can also cause wood floors to warp or buckle, so setting it to hold around 85 degrees Fahrenheit should do the trick. If your home has a programmable thermostat, you can even set it to automatically lower just before you arrive so you’ll avoid coming back to a too-warm house!
4. Keep flowers alive with a little preparation
If you’ll be gone for more than a few days at a time and don’t have an in-ground sprinkler system to water your plants for you, invest in a soaker hose- especially if you’re traveling during the hottest part of the summer. You can set these hoses on a timer to automatically water your flowerbed, garden, or lawn. Ideally, they should be on twice a day: early in the morning and in the evening, when the ground can absorb the water without competing against the evaporating sunbeams that leech it away.
5. Pause postal service
Unless your trip is a very short one, stop by your local post office and fill out an Authorization to Hold Mail form. You can have the postal service hold your mail for anywhere from 3-30 days, and they’ll begin delivering as normal once you get back. You can choose to have them bring any built up mail in their first delivery back, or you can go to pick it up yourself. This is an excellent way to prevent any packages from being stolen, and also increase the security of your home. Piles of uncollected mail or newspapers are a dead giveaway that no one is there!
6. Turn off, unplug, protect
If you have any electronics plugged directly into the wall rather than a surge protector, pull the plugs in case of a surge while you’re away. If they are plugged into a surge protector (and they really should be) simply flip the switch so they’re powered off. Not only will this keep devices safe, it will also save you some money. Even when fully turned off, electronics that are plugged in still draw some power, so kill two birds with one stone and make sure everything is unplugged when you’re gone.
7. Alert your alarm company
If you use a monitored alarm system to keep your home safe, make sure you contact the company and let them know you’re going to be away, and for how long. This is a good time to confirm that they not only have the cell phone numbers for you and anyone else you’re traveling with they can contact, but also a number for a trusted neighbor or nearby family or friends, in the event that something happens and they can’t contact you directly.
We hope these seven tips help you enjoy your summer vacation a little more and stress a little less! If you have any questions about checking pipes or sump pumps before you go, or any water-related concerns, make sure to contact the Flood Medix. Have a great summer!