5 'Must-Do' Projects Before You Leave for Vacation (and a Checklist)
1. Inspect water hoses and fittings.
The clothes washer is by far the biggest culprit when it comes to anguished homeowners dealing with water damage. The easiest solution when you leave for vacation is to simply turn off the water supply to the washer, but there are always times when it is on while we are away from our homes, if even for just a day. When water is under pressure it only takes a few minutes for a broken water line to create a lot of damage.
Perform the following check at the clothes washer, sinks, and toilets:
- Replace any hoses that feel dry or brittle.
- Inspect fittings to make sure they are fastened tightly.
- Check for rust on any metal items that could indicate impending failure.
Important: Are any of your water line connectors made of plastic? If so, they are much more likely to fail than those that are made of stainless steel or nylon-braided hose, such as the one pictured here. Surprisingly, even in higher end construction some sub-contractors will install the cheaper plastic connectors. They are such a common source of problems that it's worth going through your entire home to see if you have plastic connectors, and replacing any that exist.
2. Clear debris from the roof, gutters, and downspouts.
A heavy downpour while you're gone can cause debris to block gutters and downspouts, forcing them to overflow. Over the long term this results in decay at soffits and eaves, but a significant rain event can also cause a sudden water backup that intrudes into your home.
- Check gutters to make sure they are clear of debris that could cause downspouts to clog.
- If it rains before you go on vacation, do a quick perimeter check to make sure all downspouts are flowing freely.
- Install splash blocks to divert downspout water away from your home's foundation, if necessary.
3. Check for fire hazards.
Most of us are not experts when it comes to electrical issues, but every year some electrical fires start because of problems that anyone could have easily detected. With that in mind, be sure to do the following:
- Look for frayed electrical cords.
- Make sure that outlets are not overloaded.
- Do not use regular extension cords for air conditioners. Air conditioners use so much energy that they often cause standard extension cords to overheat.
On another fire-related note, did you know that piling moist lawn clippings too close to your home is also dangerous? Large quantities of moist grass in stacks or lawn bags can create a chemical reaction that produces enough heat to eventually start a fire. (If you've ever worked on a farm you already know how dangerous it is to stack moist hay bales in a barn, for that same reason.)
4. Create additional home security.
Even if you don't have a security system, you can make your home less of a target to criminals. The key is to keep things 'under the radar' by not making it obvious that you are gone.
- Arrange with a friend or neighbor to pick up pamphlets and packages left at your door.
- Ask someone to move your garbage bins away from the curb after collection day.
- Put your newspaper subscription and mail on hold.
- Buy timers for interior lights, and set them so that they are on during the evening and early night hours.
- Make sure that valuable items such as laptops or expensive TV screens are not easily visible from windows.
- If possible, have a neighbor park a car in your driveway occasionally.
- Arrange to have the lawn mowed and landscaping tended to while you are gone.
- Remove spare keys that may be hidden outside (most burglars know where to look).
5. Do a last-minute sweep.
Taking care of these final items will help ensure that you have a pleasant return.
- Discard any perishables still in the refrigerator.
- Take out all trash.
- Run the garbage disposal.
- Unplug appliances such as the toaster, coffee maker, television, stereo, and dryer.
- Check that all windows and doors are securely locked, including the door leading from the garage to the home.
- Turn off the main water supply. If you need to keep it on in order to water exterior plants, turn off individual supplies at the washer, sinks, and toilets.
Tip: When you turn the main water supply back on, open up one or two faucets first in order to not create too much pressure in the system.
Print out this handy checklist!
All of the information above and quite a bit more is contained in the 2-page checklist linked to below.
Just click on the image, or here, to open up this printable pdf version, which includes a packing list of often-forgotten items.
Do you have questions about any of this information? Please call me, or just click 'Reply' to this email. I'll be happy to give you my take on our local real estate market, or provide you with any other real estate advice that you may need.
(What the lawyers make us say: The information in this newsletter is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Please always consult a qualified expert before making decisions based on this content. Nothing in this article is meant to be taken as expert legal, financial, or medical advice.)