There’s a lot to do before you go on vacation: All the planning, packing, and double-checking. Maybe you have a precise checklist of every item you need, or you’re more of a throw-everything-in-a-bag type of person. Either way, it can be overwhelming! Remember when the McAllisters were so busy getting ready to go that they forgot their own son in Home Alone (then forgot him at the airport once again in Home Alone 2)? The point is, it’s easy to drop the ball with so many in the air before a big trip.
On top of all that, it’s important to prep your home before you leave for a long vacation. Trust us, we just want to help prevent you from having a “KEVIN!” moment once you’re already long gone and can’t do much about it. So here is our list of home checks to do before you go so you can relax knowing all is well with your home while you’re gone!
1. Turn Off the Water Supply
Not to bring up Home Alone again (sorry, it’s a classic!), but you don’t want to come home to a “Wet Bandits” flooding situation. So make sure you turn off your main water supply. It’s definitely worth the extra effort to prevent a pipe from bursting or another plumbing issue rearing its ugly head when nobody is home to catch it. If you’re going to be gone for a month or more, it might be a good idea to have a friend or family member stop by the house and occasionally run the water to ensure you don’t come home to a plumbing issue, like frozen pipes during a cold season.
2. Unplug Appliances and Electronics
Nobody is going to use your appliances or electronics when you’re gone, unless you have a house sitter. So it’s always a good idea to shut off all appliances: Toaster, coffeemaker, washer, dryer, etc. Plugged in items actually still use energy so unplugging them will save you money on your electric bills, as well as eliminate fire hazards.
3. Adjust Your Thermostat
During summer months, make sure to turn your thermostat up to the mid 80’s, and while you’re gone in the winter, turn it down to about 50 degrees so you don’t come home to frozen pipes! There’s no reason to make your AC or furnace work harder than it has to while there’s nobody home, and you’ll reap the benefits with lower energy bills. However, don’t turn off your air conditioner or furnace completely. You want air to continue moving through your home so it doesn’t condensate or freeze in the winter. If you have a smart thermostat or a programmable thermostat, it will do all of this for you when you enable an “Away” setting. This is handy because you can disable the “Away” setting before you arrive back home so you can walk into a cool home in the summer and warm home in the winter.
4. Check the Sump Pump
Your sump pump protects your home from flooding during major rainstorms. It’s always a good idea to test your sump pump before you leave for a trip to make sure it’s doing its job. You can do this by dumping a bucket of water into the sump pit. If it doesn’t kick on, the safest solution is to call a plumber to look into it before you leave so you don’t come home to a flooded basement.
In addition, it’s nice to have a sump pump with battery backup so if a major storm causes a power outage, the sump pump will still work when you need it most!
5. Do Some Preventative Landscaping
Before you leave, to inspect your yard to ensure tree roots aren’t obstructing your sewer line. Tree roots are naturally drawn to water so this can happen from time to time, but it can also cause blockages and potential sewer backups while you’re gone, which is not a fun mess to come home to, as you can imagine!
6. Make a Small Investment in Light Timers
Warning: We’re bringing up Home Alone again. Remember the scene where Kevin scares off the burglars by creating a party scene in his home, complete with lights on and fake dancing figures? We’re not saying you have to do that, but it would be a good investment to make it appear like you’re still home while you’re gone to ward off potential burglars. You can purchase timers for as low as $10 that turn your lights on and off at different times during the night to create the facade that you’re home. There are even more expensive smart timers that allow you to control your lights in your home from your phone these days! If only Kevin had a smartphone…and his parents (would the movie plot even work in 2021?).
7. Stop Your Mail
Your mailman won’t know you went on vacation unless you stop by the post office and pick up an Authorization to Hold Mail form to stop mail from piling up when you’re gone. The mail you missed can either be delivered to your mailbox on the day you return, or you can just pick it up at the post office when you get back. Another option would be asking a nice neighbor or family member who is checking on your home to take care of your mail for you while you’re gone.
8. Clean Out Your Refrigerator
You know what is a fun surprise to come home to? The smell of spoiled food. Make sure you empty your fridge of perishables and anything that may expire during the time you’re gone. When it comes to expiration dates or uncertainty, if you don’t know, the food has to go!
9. Lock it Up!
Sometimes the simplest things are the easiest to forget. Make sure your doors are locked and windows are shut tightly and locked to prevent anyone from breaking and entering. Lock up your valuables in your safe at home or safety deposit box, and if you have a security alarm, make sure your alarm company knows you’ll be gone for a while.
In the same vein, make sure your car is locked and windows are closed, preferably inside your garage. Also, tell your neighbors you’re going on vacation and to call your cell phone if they see anything that needs your attention.
Hitting the Road and Have Questions?
If you notice anything that needs a professional’s attention regarding your plumbing, HVAC system, or potential electrical issues, we have experts that can come out to your home and do a check before you go on vacation. It’s a lot of work getting ready to leave, but it’s even worse to come home to a big problem as a result of your home being unoccupied for a long period of time. Last but not least, if you’re getting out of Southwest Michigan this summer, have fun and make the most of every moment!