If left unchecked, these green Benedict Arnolds will grow to reveal our absence, and invite the less scrupulous to have a look. Unless you have a house sitter coming to water them, you would come back to a house full of dead plants! For many, there’s nothing better than reading a physical newspaper, magazine, or book. It’s something to consider. Clearly, developing and maintaining good relationships with your neighbors is key to preparing for an extended trip. If you can’t empty out your refrigerator and freezer, here are a couple of hints to help you avoid disaster. This is often called “vacation mode” and can be set with a dial under a metal panel on the front of your hot water heater. There are many old-school analog and new digitally programmable light timers on the market. Some folks wouldn’t consider leaving their house to go grocery shopping without setting the alarm system, while others haven’t locked their front doors ever. If they are intact, stuff stayed frozen. While this is certainly true, you also should take pictures of your home and possessions prior to leaving. If you are going to be gone long term, arrange for your mail to be forwarded. 110 posts. 11. Long-term: Set on vacation mode. This one seems a bit counterintuitive — right before you leave, you clear … For a more complete discussion, there are many additional tips to leaving a car behind which are covered in an excellent article by Edmunds titled, “How to Prep Your Car for Long-Term Storage”. One way to do this is to run the water heater until it is empty and let it refill again. Most of these items (like turning off your house water) take seconds and will become instinctual every time you leave for a long trip. I also turn off the water heater. Every degree you turn up the thermostat will save you 2 percent on your cooling costs, according to Salt River Project. Short-term: Turn off all lights except the ones you want as security measures. -- Leaks: Check for water leaks before you leave. All Rights Reserved. Use a towel to chock the door open. Here is a golden tip for extra safety: Do not post that you are leaving on an extended vacation or business trip on Facebook! The important exception to this would be if you’re using an internet web cam or other security system that requires an internet connection. Avoid telling the world your home is going to be empty. When you’re away from the house for an extended period of time – for example, if you leave on a vacation or the property is a summer home or rental property that is vacant – there are additional factors that should be considered when deciding whether to heat or cool the unoccupied house. First, check your insurance coverage by calling the insurance company or talking to your insurance agent. A good electrical storm can knock out everything from computers to televisions to small appliances. Short-term: Check your pool-pump settings before you leave to make sure they are where you want them to be. Don't leave the gutters clogged. As you can see, you are relying on your trusted neighbor(s) or home-watching friends quite a bit to help keep your home safe and intervening in any disasters. Perhaps it’s the last thing you want to do in the midst of packing, but you’ll thank yourself when you arrive back home. It’s always better to come home to a clean and uncluttered house. Also, have the friend flush toilets and run the dishwasher. No matter how long you'll be gone, whether a few days or several months, here are steps you can take to make your house safer and lower your utility bills. After the first six months, you can extend for another six months. Unplug and reset the thermostat: Temporarily adjust the thermostat so the air-conditioner or heater won't waste energy by running in an empty house. Water leaks while folks are away are one of the most common and costly damage claims for insurance companies. The thieves know about these products and tricks and look for these easy access vulnerabilities. That same lighting strike will also travel through coax cable, so anything – modems, computers, televisions, etc. Many home owners have experienced a plumbing leak at one time or another. Don't leave the gutters clogged. Use a solution of one tablespoon of baking soda in one quart of water, in order to neutralize food soils and prevent odors. If you have a spa, turn off the heat. It’s a nearly universal phenomenon — that moment of panic in the middle of the night before leaving home for an extended period of time wondering what loose ends you’ve forgotten to tie. If your home is on oil heat, have the tanks filled. Reply Reply Author. Figuring out how to balance the budget for a home that remains empty can be tricky. Be aware that there are concerns that web cameras of any kind could get hacked allowing not just you to see your house and home, but anyone on the planet. Details: No one wants to come home from a relaxing vacation to a plumbing leak. These are readily available on the internet and are designed to have the bad guys looking for easier targets. Step one, stop the green traitors. Drain any remaining water from the faucets, long shower head extensions and such. Whenever possible, use deadbolt locks. Lock pet doors and any other external entry ways into your house. Short-term: Mow your lawn and trim shortly before your trip. If there’s a fire, your insurance company may challenge your claim because your fire detectors were not functioning. This not only kept the turncoats cut, but it also brought a trusted person to my property on a regular basis. This is exactly what we do, and it works well. Adjusting your thermostat to 85 degrees or less is recommended. For the rest of us, it’s stop and hold. Turn off the electricity to your hot water heater. Leaving your home for 2 or 3 months is one thing.. To defeat these scanners, disconnect the receiver and use a manual garage door lock. Lock your back door. Coming home to the rotten smell of a dirty garbage disposal that has sat for weeks or months on end is not exactly pleasant. The only other option is to move out and leave the place empty so he only pays the mortgage and minimal bills on it. Never Post Travel Plans or Events on Social Media. That said, you can buy and install a web camera system in your house and property that will let you see your den from Denmark and your lawn from Louisiana. Some folks also recommend putting a little baking soda in sink drains and toilets to further avoid the stagnant water stink. Thanks. If you did you would come back and have to replace large amounts of dry wall. No more worrying about water in the basement. She enjoys the money and we don’t look unoccupied. For two or more months, you may need a house sitter. Some people leave for 3 months and some leave for 7 months. Canadians have a similar mail forwarding system but pay a minimum of $52.95 CAN for four months of mail forwarding within their province. Discussion. There is no sense in maintaining a hot tank of water for months when you’re away. Still trying to sell your home? 9. 12. -- Disposer/drains: Run the disposer. Needing extensive medical treatment requiring them to spend weeks or months in hospital. Lock All External Doors, Windows, and the Garage. Don't keep anything that is likely to go bad during the … If you’re on well water, turn off the pump when you leave for a long trip. If necessary, you might purchase an endorsement to your policy to provide coverage for your home while it's vacant. You want to do what is best for the house but hate the idea of paying for unnecessary service. Take care of your yard. Drain spouts should be secured to take heavy rain away from your house. Include the names and contact information for your plumber, electrician, yard service, pool service or other contact should a problem happen while you are away. On many occasions we have shortened or extended mail forwarding based on changing road plans. People usually leave their primary residence unoccupied for various legitimate reasons, some of which may well not be their choice. If there is frost in your freezer, you'll want to wait until that has melted and been cleaned up before you leave. And don’t forget to make sure that all of your windows are also locked. Editor’s Note: Thank you, Steve, for this very informative article. Just imagine what your kitchen trash will smell like after a month or two of warm summer air. We were lucky. I was wondering if we need to do anything to the plumbing to prevent water empty house for 4 months - any plumbing precautions (rental, appliances) - Sarasota - Bradenton - Venice area - Florida (FL) -Manatee and Sarasota Counties - City-Data Forum Postal Service to put your mail on hold. One exception to the main water shut-off rule is if your heating system works off hot water or steam radiators, and you are leaving the heat on while you are away. You want to do what is best for the house but hate the idea of paying for unnecessary service. They're going to Florida for the rest of the winter and their toilet will not be used for 3 months. You can use this service for as short as fifteen days or as long as one year. Turning off the main water supply to your home is the best defense against flooding caused by a burst pipe or other plumbing failure. If you have friends and family who are willing to help you with this, you’re in luck. Make sure you find your main water shut-off valve, and that it works. No worries about home burglaries while boondocking. closing up your house for an extended trip. All kinds of weather could happen in your absence. Hiding a house key under the mat, in a fake rock, or inside a magnetic house … Long-term: Do the same. Check out these 9 tips to ensure you're home is safe next time you leave town. A trusted neighbor can check and answer these questions instantly. Copyright © 2007-2020. When in doubt, replace the batteries, and test the detectors. This will help prevent sewer gas from entering the house while you are gone and can keep parts of plumbing fixtures from drying out or cracking. Needing extensive medical treatment requiring them to spend weeks or months in hospital. It’s also not a good idea to change your answering machine message to anything implying your absence. If you want your mail forwarded, you request a temporary mail forwarding for $1 USD. • Unplug and clean the refrigerator interior. Provide the dates you will be gone and where you are going. One is to unplug the refrigerator and leave the door open to prevent mildew, odor and mold. The other is to keep the refrigerator running. My partner doesn't have a copy of the Mortgage Deeds (The Nottingham BS) so we can't check - any help will be gratefully received. What won’t fit in your camper’s refrigerator can be offered to your friendly neighbor as part of maintaining the friendship. While you will hopefully not need these images, having evidence of this information can make or break travel plans. The water will … Should your temperature monitors register temperature approaching freezing, your neighbors – who have a key – can enter your home, verify the situation, and take corrective action before your pipes freeze and burst. Just be sure to put a black X on the saran wrap to prevent an accident. 5. It’s no good to be programming your light timers for the first time moments before locking the door and then wonder during your trip if you programmed them correctly. Another example (un-related) is the A/C. While the technology exists to watch television from home via the internet, most of us do not watch our home cable television or use our home cable internet while we’re traveling. If you live in a warmer climate, you may need to leave your air conditioner and humidistat on to prevent mold, mildew, and other heat and humidity related issues. Any dead trees that could fall on your home or property should also be removed. Second, clean the refrigerator. Just kidding! An empty fridge would have more start and stops then one with something in it. In general, folks want to close their blinds to prevent the unsavory from peering in and seeing unprotected valuables. Garage doors with electric garage door openers are vulnerable to thieves with garage door opener scanners. Leave the air conditioner on, but crank the thermostat up to around 88 degrees. You could even put a “Beware of Dog” sign or sticker on your door. Make sure your security lights are outfitted with CFL bulbs, which save on energy and are long-lasting. -- Emergency contact: Leave your contact information with a friend or neighbor. Here are 11 precautions you might not have thought of for keeping your empty house safe while you’re away. Precautions for leaving a house empty over winter please? On the other hand, there are companies that sell do-it-yourself kits including the web cameras, digital hubs, and software that allows you to install, set-up, and use such a system. There are certain things you must do in order to property protect you and your family, and minimize risk while you are away. The tank won't empty completely, so sponge out what's left in the bottom and transfer it to the bowl. Don't let it sit empty, however. In addition, our neighbors have keys to our home and garage. We have an outside faucet that comes off our water line just after the main enters the house and before it goes on to the remainder of the building. Consider Call-In Temperature Monitors. There are many stories of folks leaving a house and forgetting this critical step only to return to broken pipes inside their walls. A vacation requires preparation, including arranging flights, reserving hotel rooms and finding things to do. Never leave wet clothing in your dryer or they will likely mildew, mold, and ruin long before you get home. In case of a fire, flood, or other disaster, these photographs will prove what you had, and in what overall condition it was in. 20. Turn off ceiling fans, indoor and out. Sources from the Phoenix area: Tom Hines, APS energy-efficiency expert; Kathleen Mascarenas, SRP energy-efficiency spokeswoman; Nathan Morey, SRP senior analyst, energy efficiency; and Linda Stanfield, owner of Ben Franklin the Punctual Plumber. It’s a minor detail, but closing a fireplace flue will prevent bats, bird, squirrels, and other critters from entering your home. The last thing … This keeps the house well above freezing and prevents the pipes from freezing and bursting. The ideal way to do this is to leave your car parked in a garage, out of the elements, and have a neighbor start and drive the car every week or two. KITCHEN AND LAUNDRY • Clean each appliance thoroughly. If your electrical items are plugged into surge protectors, there’s no sense in leaving them plugged in and risking the damage. This will prevent algae and mildew from building up in your toilet bowl and basin. To avoid this situation, run a half-cup of vinegar and water in your garbage disposal. Remove and clean the defrost pan at the bottom of your refrigerator. Inviting them for a nice dinner before and after your trip will serve to reinforce the relationship and build your friendship. The best part of the above recommendations is the peace of mind they’ll give you if you’re away from home. Details: Don't come home from your trip to a refrigerator filled with spoiled food. If the property is your main home and you’ve let us know that it’s empty for 31-180 days in a row a year, you’re covered so long as the water is turned off at the mains stopcock, or the property’s central heating system is left on continually to maintain a minimum temperature of 15 degrees Celsius/60 degrees Fahrenheit between 1 October and 1 April inclusive. The answer may not be as clear-cut as you think. You’ll be paying for that hidden draw while you’re away. The house is decently insulated, but probably only averagely-well sealed (R-19 walls, but some small drafts). If you live in an area that’s prone to hurricanes and other tropical storms, it’s wise to put up storm shutters. 15. Never fear my fellow truck camping friends. For example, in the state of Florida, Comcast will turn off their services for $5 a month. Some of the items in these checklists might not apply to your house, and there may be other items that you’ll need on your checklist that other people don’t have to consider. No matter how long you'll be gone, whether a few days or several months, here are steps you can take to make your house safer and lower your utility bills. Long-term: Do the above. Most newer water heaters are equipped with such a setting. Take any live plants you have with you. Put the security lights on variable timers. Short-term: Turn up the thermostat to about 85 degrees. Even if you have your newspapers stopped, newspapers, circulars, and phone books may be dropped at your house. First, clear out all of the perishables. On the topic of garbage, you may need to arrange to have your household garbage taken to the street, or have the cans pulled back to the house. While you’re at it, make sure the dishwasher is empty. Left unchecked, mail will likely accumulate beyond your mail box capacity and potentially announce your absence. While that may be the official limit, our small town post office has held our mail for three months at a time. Naturally you might think taking pictures is what you do once you’re on the road and exploring new places. Clean enamel exteriors with sudsy water, rinse, and dry. Details: Toilets can collect bacteria, which can cause stains. The water heater will run occasionally but not nearly as often as it does normally. 1. Before leaving your seasonal home, perishable items should be eaten, given away, or discarded. Add contact names and numbers for any professional services that you annually use. Some people leave for three months, and some leave for seven months. Empty, wipe down and unplug the refrigerator. To create the illusion that you have a huge, hairy, and hungry guard hound inside your home, put a big dog bowl and chain (preferably beat up and warn) outside your home. You may be able to do something similar with a hot-water heating system. Stop the Mail and Newspaper Deliveries. Before our last trip, I installed a shut-off in the section between the line to the outside faucet and the continuing supply to the house. To supplement your fake Fido, you can install faux alarm signs and stickers. Turn off your gas at the meter. Other items, like not hiding house keys, are just tips that you can immediately incorporate into your travel habits. For more information about mail forwarding in Canada visit CanadaPost.ca. Did you remember to lock the sliding doors? Apply a coating of appli-ance or car wax to enamel exteriors to protect scratches Figure 1. So much of this process is second nature to me as I have an antique pickup truck that gets put away every winter. If your hot water heater is like most, all you’ll need is a Philips screwdriver. Also, have a neighbor, friend or pool service check the pool periodically to make sure the pump is operating properly. It also involves preparing your home for your absence, Your California Privacy Rights/Privacy Policy. If you post that you are leaving your home empty for a few months, you may be sending strangers an invitation to burglarize your home. If you’re interested in purchasing an alarm system and paying for a security service, I highly recommend reading articles devoted to that topic. No fretting about flooding fifty miles down forest service roads. Outdoor floodlights with built in motion sensors are available at Home Depot, Lowes, and Amazon (among others) and do an excellent job at detecting and deterring would-be thieves. 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