Seven Tips to Safeguard Your Home While On Vacation
By Vanessa Reed
As a homeowner, there are few things that can ruin your vacation faster than receiving news that a flood has happened at your house, and you’re too far away to personally deal with it. This is exactly what happened to my husband and me when we finally took a long-anticipated honeymoon to Europe.
This article is about the precautions homeowners should take to secure their home before they leave for vacation, and what to do when disaster strikes.
1. Even if you’ve made arrangements for someone to watch the house, tell your neighbors you’re leaving, and how to get in touch with you in case of emergency.
We arranged for family to stay at and check on our home periodically before we left for our trip, and we thought we had our bases covered. Unfortunately, our flood happened during a 48 hour period when the house was not being watched; Consequently, it was only discovered because the neighbors saw water coming from our garage and balcony. Ultimately, our realtor contacted me via Facebook to give me the bad news, but we would have been able to react more quickly if we had just taken this extra precaution.
2. Leave detailed instructions about where the main water and gas meters are located, and how to turn off in an emergency.
It isn’t always obvious where the main gas and water valves are located. When you entrust your home to the care of someone else, in addition to telling them what to do to care for the place, leave behind detailed instructions for where the main water and gas meters are located and how to turn off in case of emergency. We could have saved the fire department a trip, and our neighbors the inconvenience of having the street shut down, had we left these behind for our next door neighbors!
3. Turn off your water main valve.
If no one is actually staying at your home while you’re away, avoid the chance of a flood by simply turning off the main water supply. Things break unexpectedly, and it’s only a matter of minutes before a leak can become a full-on flood, even when a small pipe breaks.
4. Turn water heater off or to vacation mode.
If no one is staying at your home, save yourself money and potential for a burst water heater while you’re away by turning off or turning the water heater to vacation mode.
5. Unplug electronics.
Avoid possible fire hazards and save yourself some money on electricity by unplugging any accessories or electronics when you leave for vacation.
6. Don’t wait to take action when disaster strikes.
Coordinating flood remediation efforts from overseas was frustrating and felt impossible at times with time zone differences. It’s important to open up the house as soon as possible and hire a remediation crew to begin the drying process. The longer the house sits wet, the higher the risk of dangerous mold growth and exacerbated damage. We used ServePro for our remediation, but there are a number of other good companies that will manage the remediation process for you. It helps to have good homeowners insurance and have access to your documents so you understand what your insurance will pay for.
7. Trip Insurance
Fortunately, we did purchase insurance on our trip that would have allowed us to return home early without any penalty. Trip insurance is actually a good precautionary step. You’ll be glad you have it in the unlikely event things go wrong on your vacation.
Securing your home before leaving on vacation is as important as organizing your travel documents, booking your flights, and planning your itinerary. By taking a few extra precautionary steps, you will feel more confident and relaxed knowing you have taken these basic precautions.
Vanessa Reed is part of the marketing team at Talmadge Construction.