If you are traveling this summer, there is more to do to get ready than just pack your suitcase. Here are important tips for leaving your house for summer vacation.
When you leave your home for an extended period of time, like a summer vacation, there are things you need to do to ensure that your home remains safe while you’re away. Here are some tips from Golden Rule Home Watch & Concierge you can employ the next time you leave.
Turn off the water
Unless your lawn relies on a sprinkler system, locate the water main in your home and turn off the water. “Statistically, your chances of having a water leak at a toilet valve or icemaker are pretty low, but billions of dollars of water damage happen each year—and it has to happen to someone,” said Dan Lender, owner of Golden Rule Home Watch.
Set your HVAC system
Don’t waste energy and money to excessively cool your home when you’re not there, but don’t turn your HVAC system off. You’ll want air circulating throughout the home. Set the temperature higher than normal (78°F) and let it do its work filtering out humidity and maintaining a constant environment to prevent mold and mildew from forming.
Check ALL windows and doors
Ensure that all windows and exterior doors are securely closed and locked, and don’t forget garage or basement doors. “You’d be surprised how many times we find a window or door left unlocked or even open when we check a home,” Lender said.
Remove valuables from sight
Remove electronics, computers and other valuables from areas where they might be seen through windows or doors. Place small valuables inside drawers or cabinets. Close the curtains or blinds on the sides and rear of your home, but leave the front curtains and blinds as you normally would have them.
Put interior lights on timers
Think about your normal patterns and set lights in rooms you use regularly on timers. This gives the appearance that someone is at home and performing their usual routine. Consider adding a radio on a timer to provide an additional presence.
“Nothing indicates unoccupied house more than cards, flyers and door hangers at the front entrance, or numerous newspapers in the driveway. Cancel regular deliveries, hold your mail, and have someone clear your home on a regular basis,” Lender advised.
Remove fresh foods
Don’t leave fresh foods on your countertops or perishables in your refrigerator. Dispose of them prior to leaving your home. You don’t want to come home to a moldy mess!
Plan for lawn or storm care
If you’ll be away for an extended vacation, hire a lawn service. An overgrown lawn is a sure giveaway that nobody’s home. Likewise, summer often brings strong storms. Line up someone to check for storm damage like downed limbs, torn shingles or debris in your yard. If storm damage does occur, have arrangements for someone to clear the debris and contact you on how you would like to proceed.
Don’t post your trip on social media
Resist the temptation to announce your trip or post vacation pictures while you’re away. Wait until you return home to post those fabulous travel pictures. Don’t tip off potential criminals to your absence.
Don’t hide a key
Criminals know where homeowners hide keys, or they may spot a friend or neighbor accessing or replacing a hidden key. Place your key with a trusted family member or neighbor if you must leave one, or leave it with a bonded Home Watch service. “Golden Rule offers KeyWatch where we will hold a key to your home in order to provide access to those persons you authorize to enter your home. This may include a family member, neighbor, or in case of emergency, firefighters, police, or repair professionals,” said lender.
Hire a Home Watch service
“Say something goes wrong, like a pipe bursts in your home,” Lender described. “You’ll want to 1) be aware of the problem, and 2) get it fixed as quickly as possible to mitigate damage to your house and its contents. With our Home Watch clients, we visit the home on a predetermined schedule, and notify clients if we discover anything out of the ordinary. If we find something like a burst pipe, we’ll offer to line up repair services on your behalf. We can enable access for the repairperson and remain with them to monitor and approve their work, and report the results back to you. It provides that extra peace of mind that can help make your summer vacation more enjoyable.”
A Home Watch service can perform specialized or concierge-level tasks, like feeding fish, monitoring your pool, or starting and maintaining cars left behind. “Each client has a set of unique requests,” Lender said. A Home Watch service can also put your house into “home watch mode” after you leave, and prepare it for your return by arranging cleaning, changing linens, setting the temperature or stocking the refrigerator with the basics.
If you think having technology is the answer, think again
“People tell me all the time they have a security camera or a Ring doorbell. While we encourage use of these technologies, keep in mind that they only provide data points like an alarm or photo. If you’re miles away, what can you do with this information? No technology or sensor replaces human eyes, ears and feet on the street. You will still need someone to check your home and report back with what is going on,” Lender explained. “That’s where a Home Watch service is useful.”
Use these tips the next time you head out of town to secure your home and ensure your peace of mind.
Golden Rule Home Watch & Concierge uses the latest in technology and detailed personal inspections to watch your home while you’re away. It serves home and business owners throughout Northern Virginia.