All your bags are packed and you’re ready to go, but what’s that nagging feeling in the pit of your stomach? It’s not last night’s lasagna. More than likely, your brain is trying to decide if you missed something critical like properly securing the house. The Federal Bureau of Investigation reports that property crime is on the rise, as much as 4.7 percent in some areas. So, you can be assured that the nagging feeling you have may be a valid concern.
Security is just one home maintenance issue to consider when leaving the house empty for a couple of weeks. Save yourself the heartburn and think ahead when planning a big trip.
Conserve, Conserve, Conserve
Conservation is an area that’s easy to miss, but critically important. No one is going to be home to use the computer or take hot showers. One way you can help the environment is to anticipate the electricity drains in your home and shut them down.
- Unplug stereos, televisions and computers. This will also protect them from power surges. With everything unplugged, you can switch off any power strips, as well.
- GE recommends you turn the refrigerator off if you are going to be away longer than a month or if the house temperature will drop below 60 degrees. During the summer, you can just empty it out and turn off the ice maker. If you are feeling generous, bag up your canned goods and ship them off to the local food bank. Feeding America can point you to one in your area.
- Change the water heater to the “vacation” setting.
- Set the digital thermostat to around 52 degrees during the winter or set it to “away” in the summer.
Clark Public Utilities offers more of these conservation tips to homeowners getting ready to leave town.
Ask your security company to come out and evaluate your home for vulnerable spots. For example, most break-ins involve the front door, especially when there isn’t a solid deadlock, according to This Old House.
While you are securing your home, lock up jewelry, titles and deeds, insurance papers and other valuables in a local safety deposit box. This removes them from your home in case of fire or break in. CBS News suggests you take vital documents like birth certificates with you when you go.
Go around and pick up all those spare keys hidden under rocks and flowerpots, as well. Leave at least one key with someone you trust, preferably a neighbor within eyesight of the property.
Continue Pool Care and Landscaping
Burglars and squatters look for signs that a home is empty, and that includes an overgrown lawn or a green pool. Make sure to pay the service companies in advance to keep the work going or set up an automatic payment through your bank.
Since you are going out of town anyway, it is a good time to focus on pool care. Having a pool company install a new liner, for example, will give it a bright new look. The job is relatively inexpensive; PoolProducts.com liners for pools run around 380 dollars, but it does take time.
Stop the Mail and Paper
It is not necessary to rely on another person to pick up your mail or newspaper. The postal service offers a convenient online form that will hold delivery until you return. You can schedule the stoppage up to 30 days in advance using this form.
It is better to cancel your newspaper subscription instead of stopping it. This way you don’t send out an alert that you are away and the house is empty. The fewer people who know you are out of town, the better.