New swimsuit: check.
A friend to watch your dog and pick up your mail: check.
Your work projects done and delivered: close enough.
One week of leisure is just around the corner and You. Are. Ready. You’ve earned this.
Now imagine you’re sitting on the beach, drink in hand, the world far away, when you have visions of a sudden, shocking rainstorm back home, flooding your basement with dirty, smelly water. Or a leaky faucet that is drip…drip…dripping away dollar after dollar while you’re 1,000 miles away. And did you even turn off the stove? How can you relax now?
Knocking out a few quick and easy items on a before-you-leave checklist will give you the confidence to trade your daily routine for a big, floppy straw sun hat. You don’t have to worry about wasting money, acts of nature or the places where mold can secretly flourish. You can concentrate on more pressing issues, like the college boys talking to your teenage daughter or why your son has decided to stop wearing pants. These are the essential ways of preparing your home for vacation:
Turn off the water
Close the valve on the main supply line of your water system to prevent leaks or drips that have the potential to cause flooding and damage. Who wants to re-enter reality by mopping up water? Not you, that’s who.
While you unplug in your sunny oasis, let your small appliances and electronic devices do the same. There’s no reason to let microwaves, TVs, washing machines and computers run up the energy bill. Even if they’re not turned “on,” they still use power. It is wise, however, to leave a lamp or two connected. Set a timer or use a phone app to turn them on for a few hours each day at random times, orchestrating the illusion that someone’s home.
Regulate the A/C
You may be tempted to shut off the air conditioning while you’re away. Big mistake! Mold can start growing in the right conditions, like the inside of your warm, dark, humid home. Turn up the thermostat as high as a steady 80 degrees. The temperature is safe for your belongings and will generate some energy bill savings.
Put your sump pump to the test
Make sure your sump pump is up to the job if a summer storm slams your neighborhood with torrential rains. Dump a bucket of water in your sump pump pit. The pump will activate once the pit is full, and the water should drain quickly. If it doesn’t, schedule a sump pump repair appointment before you leave. Regularly run clean water through your pump to rid it of clog-causing debris.
Shut down the water heater
Your water heater is constantly doing its job. While that is admirable, it is also a huge energy waste when no one is around. If you do shut down your water heater while you are out of town, make sure the tank is full before turning it back on – you could create a pricey problem otherwise. Keep in mind that when traveling during winter months, the water heater should be set to vacation mode instead, preventing frozen pipes.
Check the downspouts
This easy tip is another proactive way to stave off a flooded basement. Help protect your home’s foundation by ensuring downspouts extend at least five feet away, directing runoff rain water away from the house.
These little steps can help make sure you come home without finding any unnecessary surprises in your house or your utility bills. When you're planning your trip, remember this checklist for preparing your home. Enjoy your vacation!
This guest post was provided by John C. Flood. John C. Flood is a group of trained professionals providing the finest in plumbing, heating, cooling and electric throughout Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. Join John C. Flood on Facebook and Twitter.