Planning On Leaving Home For The Holidays?
When you leave your home for the holidays or upcoming winter months, you want to make sure you do a few things to keep your home safe and secure. Your vacation should be relaxing and free of worry. Prepare your house today! Let’s start with keeping your plumbing in check.
1. Protect your pipes
- Before you go on holiday vacation, make sure you have sturdy plumbing throughout your house by checking your entire plumbing systems for wear and tear on the rubber, particularly if there’s been a considerable amount of snow and ice.
- Avoid water damage by turning off your water supply. Shut off necessary water valves so that there’s no damage to these water systems. Consider completely turning off your water supply if no one will be in the home for an extended period of time. But, if your home is protected by a fire sprinkler system, do not turn off the water to this system.
- If a pipe leaks or bursts while you are away, it could cause severe damage. Water taps, such as your dishwasher and washing machine, are typically left on at all times. Turn off valves to all sinks and these specific taps. Once you’ve shut off the valve, make sure there’s no water running when you turn back on the taps.
- Switch off your hot water system will keep gas bills lower in your absence. Consult with your heating professional to determine if it’s safe to turn off the water supply for your particular heating system, especially if your home is heated by an older steam heating system.
- Drain your indoor and outdoor pipes by flushing your toilet to clear water from your tank and bowls and opening your faucets. Also, pour non-toxic antifreeze rated for plumbing systems in toilet tanks and bowls to prevent any remaining water from freezing and cracking. Contact a trusted plumbing professional to confirm that your pipes have been drained. Your plumber can blow compressed air through your pipes.
In fact, it’s wise to establish a preventative plumbing plan at the top of each year. Your plumber can replace your old system to stainless steel braided hoses early on before trouble strikes. Durable hoses and new piping as needed will last longer and will allow you to have peace of mind while your away for the holidays.
“When I leave my home for the holidays, I want to be sipping cocktails and walking on the beach, not worrying about potential plumbing problems at home due to snow and ice.” —Julie Jankins
2. Keep your home and roof warm
- If your water supply stays on and you decide against draining your water pipes, keep your furnace running to help ensure your house stays warm, preventing frozen pipes.
- Your floors and walls are where your water piping is likely located. By setting your internal home temperature above freezing levels—at 55°F or higher—you’ll keep your interior floors and wall cavities warm. Also, by keeping your room and cabinet doors open, you’ll help heat circulate and warm areas where your main pipes are located.
- Inspect your roof is one of your fall checklist items. Before you leave for the holidays, make sure you’ve cleaned your gutters to help prevent ice build up. Dead trees or overhanging limbs can damage your house, especially during winter months.
- If the weather turns frigid, have a trusted family member, friend, or neighbor inspect your roof for ice dams and any possible leaks inside. Provide them with your contact information and a list of local dependable contractors, if repairs or service are needed.
3. Review sump pump and water heater
- Place more water into sump pit to increase its water level and continue to check that your pump is pushing out adequate amounts of water. Ensure that your system is ejecting water properly before you leave your home. Before a problem arises, contact a plumbing professional that services sump pumps for advice.
- Set your water heater on “vacation” mode. This will prevent your water heater from working overtime. However, maintain electrical power if it keeps your heating system running.
- Or, if you’d prefer, turn off your heat source and water supply to hot water heaters, if it’s separate from your boiler. You can install a water flow and low temperature sensor on your main water supply pipe which connects a sensor to a monitored alarm system or your smartphone application.
4. Implement safety measures
- Make your home look occupied. An empty house is an invitation for burglars. Always make sure that you have timer lights. Burglars are deterred by outdoor lighting. Leave at least one light in your house on a timer and install a motion-activated sensor with fluctuating times and install an outdoor floodlight.
- Varying lights in the interior and exterior of your house or owning a device that simulates a flickering TV will make it appear as if someone is inside often. A lived in home is one that few are likely to try to break in.
- Consider recruiting a trusted neighbor to come in and out to check on your home from time to time. When you have frequent company at your house, your home will look attended to and lived in for opportunists.
- Either stop newspaper and mail service, or have a trusted neighbor pick up your mail or solicitation notices that may be thrown on the porch.
- Make “Beware of Dog” signs visible, even if you don’t have a dog. Watch dogs discourage robbers from coming around your premises.
- Notify the police department that your property will be vacant, and provide emergency notification numbers to trusted individuals. Ask your local authorities to conduct frequent drive bys along your street.
- If you have a vehicle and garage, be sure to park your car inside garage. This precaution will eliminate potential automotive break-ins.
- Plan for snow removal service, make sure your snow is shoveled in a timely manner. Ask a relative or neighbor to walk and drive up and down your driveway to leave tracks in the snow. If your prefer, invite them to park on your driveway so there’s perceived activity at your home.
- Please don’t post your vacation or travel plans on Social Media sites. Potential thieves often prey on that information to learn that your house is vacant.
- Confirm that your alarm systems are activated and in working order. Secure external doors and windows with deadbolt locks, sturdy door frames, and security-type hinges that can’t be pried open. Install slide locks or other security locks on unique or sliding glass doors.
- Store valuables in a safe deposit box or other offsite secure location.
5. Take emergency precautions
- Check electrical and battery operated devices and place monitored fire alarm smoke detectors on every floor. Test detectors for proper function on a regular basis and notify your fire department.
- If your keep your electrical service on, consider having a licensed electrical contractor inspect your wiring, outlets, and main electrical panel. This way, they can repair or replace defective equipment, as needed.
- Install storm shutters ( 5/8” marine plywood) to secure windows in higher wind-exposed or coastal areas. Anchor personal property that will remain outdoors.
- Avoid needless and costly expenses by shutting off appliances while you’re away. To avoid fire hazards, unplug all electronic devices and small appliances.
- Set your thermostat to a temperature closer to outside temps (warmer in the summer, cooler in the winter) but which still protects your plants, pets and furniture.
6. General home preparation
- Contact your insurance company to make certain you are aware of your home policy coverage.
- Consider taking out an traveler’s insurance policy. The cost to be covered for the unexpected is a peace of mind. Insurance is valuable in the event your travel plans change, especially if you’re leaving to go out of the country
- Pay bills in advance if there will be an extended amount of time away
- Inform your credit card company to keep your account on alert, especially if you’ll be out of the country
- If you have a home security company that monitors the house, let the company know you’ll be out of town
- Leave your emergency contact information with friend, family, and neighbor
- Clear out refrigerator and dispose of food that could go bad
- Take out trash, you don’t want unnecessary stink
- Pour half a cup of vinegar and water down your garbage disposal to keep fresh
- Make your home unattractive to pests by cleaning your home thoroughly. Eliminating food remnants will help discourage critter “residents” from moving in while your away.
- Make sure your fireplace flue is closed, as squirrels, birds, and bats are notorious for entering your home from undetected openings.
- Inspect your chimney to ensure that you’re chute is free from obstructions such as nesting birds. Install chimney screen guards help prevent this infestation.
- Check weather caulking, attic insulation, exterior doors, and windows to ensure no major deficiencies are present. Insects, as well as water, can enter through these openings.
- Clean your oven and purify, defrost, and unplug refrigerators and freezers. Wipe these appliances dry and leave doors propped open to prevent mildew.
- Ensure that you can retrieve messages on your home voicemail so it does not indicate “FULL” or unattended when someone calls.
7. Pack light and have fun!
Contacting a reliable plumbing professional for a thorough maintenance plan throughout the year is always a good idea. If you plan ahead prior to leaving town for the holidays, you’ll be that much closer to easing your mind while you’re away.
Need a dependable plumber in the Metro Detroit area to assess your seasonal plumbing needs? Consider WaterWork Plumbing! Call us today: 248-542-8022 to schedule an appointment.