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Have you noticed that vacations have been getting shorter and less frequent? I have coached many a friend and neighbor on how to prepare your home for vacation. The information contained here comes from the school of hard knocks. The odds of having a home problem while you are away are better than winning the lottery. Ever notice how those fire & water restoration company guys are always driving around in those big new trucks? Most of this article relates to water issues but be vigilant about fire hazards too, even a small light bulb can generate a tremendous amount of heat. If left against curtains for many hours ignition is likely. Taking these few steps will help you to relax when away and have a far more enjoyable time.
1 Turn off the water to your house.
If you use a recirculating pump turn it off too. Flooding from a domestic source is a very frequent occurrence. Washing machine hoses, Refrigerator water lines, Toilet supply lines, Water heaters, even frozen pipe can rupture and not let any water out till it thaws. You name it. If you were home you would catch it. A refrigerator water line can spray a tremendous amount of water if you are talking about seven days in this one case. According to one source a 1/4 inch line can let out 60 GPH, even a fraction of that on your hardwood floors and you can see what I mean.
Find the internal water shut off, it might be a Ball Valve or a Gate Valve turn it off. Verify you did it correctly by turning on the cold water (because you might have a pressure tank on the hot side). Ta Da. There are also commercially available automatic water shut off devices out there and special supply lines. They only stop catastrophic leaks, a fine spray or leaky fitting can go undetected. I find that hoses can leak slowly for a long time before they rupture.
2 Leave the heat on during the winter.
Leave it on low say 65 degrees. Less than that and you could easily freeze the pipes or the water in the toilet tank or what have you. There are those that suggest using antifreeze in toilets and draining tanks etc but I think leaving a little heat on is easier and more cost effective
3 Let the mail man & News paper boy know you will be away.
Nothing says “burgle me” like piling up mail and papers. They have a cool service where they will hold your deliveries until you return. This prevents the obvious sign of mail building up at the home. You will probably need to ask a neighbor to hold your UPS deliveries.
4 Have some timers or photo eye sensors turn on and off lights.
This keeps the home from being totally dark over night and therefore less obvious. Remember lights generate heat and can catch things on fire.Unplug unnecessary things especially ones with clocks because they are drawing energy and could potentially malfunction. Although rare, it is worth mentioning.
5 Lock the doors and Windows
The best security is having good site lines to your home from the neighbors place. Locking your doors makes sense. Crooks are generally lazy, the more difficult to get in the less likely they will bother. More criminals are caught by alert neighbors than patrolling cops or security systems.
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