Use This Checklist To Keep Your Home Safe And Sound While You’re Away

Summer is here, and if you are like many Americans, that means it’s time to plan your summer getaway. As you book your travel and accommodations, make your packing list and perfect your vacation itinerary, don’t forget to make time to prep your home for your absence.

No matter how long you plan to be gone — whether a few days, a few weeks or longer — leaving your home vacation-ready will help ensure you have a safe, clean and same-as-you-left-it place to return to. Here are our top tips:

Set Your Air Conditioner

Although you might be tempted to turn your A/C off to save money while you’re gone, heat and humidity in your house will not only make things stuffy, it can also cause mold and mildew to grow. Rather than shutting your air conditioner down completely, turn the temperature up to about 85 degrees Fahrenheit to help keep your home cool and dry. Turning up the thermostat will still save you money on your electric bill, and in the long run.

Clear Your Gutters

Check your gutters, downspouts and drains to be sure they are clear of leaves and other debris. A heavy rain while you’re gone could cause major problems, such as water damage or flooding, especially if gutters and drains are backed-up. If you have a basement with a sump pump, check to be sure it’s running properly before you leave to avoid coming home to a flooded basement.

Secure Your Garage

Before heading out of town, be sure to lock the door from your house to the garage. If you are leaving any cars parked in the driveway, pull them close to the garage door to block access to potential intruders and remove any garage remotes from vehicles left at home. To ensure the garage door can’t be opened while you’re away, go ahead and pull the plug on the electric door opener – it’s a quick, easy way to disable access using remote controls.

Unplug Appliances and Electronics

Protect expensive electronics like your computer, TV and sound system from being damaged by a power surge by purchasing a surge protector. Unplug any appliances that aren’t plugged into a surge protector. This includes any small appliances in your kitchen, such as your coffeemaker or toaster oven.

Double-Check Plumbing

No one wants to come home from a relaxing vacation to water damage from a long-term plumbing leak. One preventative measure is to turn off the water supply to household appliances, such as the washing machine and dishwasher. If you plan to be gone more than a month, have a neighbor or friend turn the water on and run the faucets, flush the toilets and run the dishwasher once a month to help prevent sewer gas from entering the house while you’re gone. This can also prevent drying out or cracking of plumbing parts. Pour half a cup of chlorine into your toilet bowls to prevent bacteria from collecting, which can cause stains.

Shut Down Your Water Heater

No need to run up your electric or gas bill by heating water when you won’t be there to use it. Set the temperature on your water heater to “vacation” mode, so it will run occasionally, but not regularly as it does normally. When you return from a long-term vacation, consider flushing out your water heater by running it until it is empty and letting it refill.

Maintain Your Swimming Pool

If you have a pool, keep your pump running to be sure algae doesn’t develop and turn the water green. Double check pump settings before you leave, and if you’ll be gone more than a few days, have a friend, family member or pool service check in on your pool to be sure the pump is running properly.

Notify Your Security Company and Neighbors

If your home is equipped with a security system, make sure it’s working and notify your security company that you will be on vacation. Give a trusted friend or family member your alarm code, the phone number for the security company and your contact information. Let your trusted neighbors know you will be gone, that way they can keep an eye out for unusual activity such as delivery trucks or service vans.

Lock Your Windows and Blinds

Before leaving, go through your house and be sure all windows are shut and locked. Leave blinds slightly open and a few lights on inside to make it appear someone is home. Consider buying a timer for some of your lights so that lamps will turn on and off each day.

Clean-out Your Refrigerator

Coming home to a fridge filled with spoiled, smelly food is not ideal. Throw out all perishables (think milk, eggs and produce) that will expire while you’re gone and toss any leftovers. If you’re taking a longer vacation (more than a month), consider cleaning out your fridge and freezer completely, unplugging it and leaving the door open to prevent odor, mildew or mold.

Tidy-Up Your Pantry

Just like your fridge, go through your pantry and toss any opened boxes or bags of food (or give them to a friend) and clear out any unopened food items that will expire while you’re away. This will help deter pests and prevent a call to the exterminator when you return.

Keep Up Your Lawn

An unkempt lawn is a signal to potential intruders that no one is home. Mow your lawn before you leave and arrange for a lawn care service to take care of your lawn and landscaping while you are away. If you only plan to be gone for a few days, ask a friend or neighbor to water your plants for you.

Stop Newspapers and Mail

Contact your local newspaper and U.S. Postal Service to put paper and mail delivery on hold while you’re gone. If you’re planning a long-term trip, arrange for your mail to be forwarded.

Make a List for Your Helper

If you plan to have someone check in on your home, plants and/or pets while you’re away, be sure to make a detailed list of instructions including a feeding and watering schedule and emergency contact information for both yourself and your family veterinarian (if you have animals).

Be sure a trusted friend or loved one has a copy of your itinerary and contact information and never post vacation dates and plans on social media. Though it can be tempting to share photos of your vacation on outlets such as Facebook and Instagram, you are also sending a clear message that nobody is home. Instead, wait to share vacation photos after you return.

Taking time to prep your home for your absence will not only help you be able to enjoy a relaxing vacation, but can help prevent you from returning to problems at home. We hope you’ll have a restful and relaxing time while on vacation. If you find yourself house hunting during the summer season, contact a PrimeLending home loan expert to learn which loan options are best for you.


From the PrimeLending blog, by Mandy Jordan