Can’t wait to go on vacation but can’t stop worrying about your unoccupied house while you’re gone?
This is a common anxiety producer for homeowners. It’s hard to relax and enjoy your vacation if you are busy worrying about a potential water main break or vandals or even a heavy rainfall or hailstorm.
It’s important to plan accordingly when you leave on vacation. There are simple steps to protecting your home while you’re gone. Most of the scheduling items are common sense, DIY actions; others may involve finding a person to help while you’re gone.
Have a neighbor or friend check on your house.
Whether it’s on a daily basis or every other day, this is a great way to have peace of mind while on vacation. It’s a good idea to have them check the furnace/air conditioning system and hot water heater to make sure they are functioning properly The person should check the hot water heater and make sure it isn’t leaking; same for faucets and under sink pipes. Make sure your lawn and landscaping is maintained while you’re gone. An overgrown lawn is a sign that no one is home and invites potential problems. Finally, make sure your rain gutters and downspouts are clear of debris. If dams form in these channels, rainwater will overflow into your home’s foundation and window wells, potentially flooding the basement. That’s the last thing you want to address while on vacation!
Lights are your friend.
Having your external and internal lights on a timer can be invaluable. Nothing dissuades a potential vandal than seeing lights on in your home. But having lights on 24 hours a day is also a sign you aren’t home. Make sure they are on a timer or at least have a neighbor turn them off and on at appropriate times.
Put your mail and newspaper on hold.
Overflowing mailboxes invite trouble as do piles of newspapers in the driveway. Make the call or go online to get a vacation hold on these items. Also, hold off on online orders. Packages at your doorstep invite theft and and other trouble.
Let the local police know you will be gone.
Many law enforcement agencies are happy to drive by your home to check on your property, and their presence alone can serve as a deterrent to a break-in.
Stay off social media.
Hold off on posting pictures of your vacation until after you’ve gotten home. This is especially true if you have public accounts, have thousands of followers or “friends”, etc. Be “present” with family and friends, and enjoy your time with them; share your experiences online later.
Consider installing a security system with video recording sent to your phone and/or alarm capabilities. Many DIY setups are very affordable and don’t require the monthly service fee. You could get it set up the very week you are leaving. This is arguably the best deterrent you can preemptively set up.
Lock it up
Keep valuables locked in a safe. There is no need to have money, jewelry and other valuables laying out in plain sight or in easily accessible places.
Be smart with your hide-a-key
Don’t hide keys outside. The oldest trick in the world should be discontinued while you’re gone. Give your key to a neighbor or friend and alleviate any chance an uninvited “guest” will disturb your home. Or use a secure lockbox or other locked device if you really must leave it outside.
(Editor’s Note: This blog was originally published in December of 2017. It has been updated to reflect current information and trends).