Many of us are travelling away for the holidays or escaping our cold winters and heading south for the winter.  Ensuring homes are protected during our travels is a worrisome task but following a vacant home checklist is an easy step to protect our homes from theft, water damage, heating or electrical system failures while away for any length of time.

 

 

A few tips to protect your home during winter travel:

The Appearance of a Continuously Occupied Home is Essential

  • Set motion sensitive exterior lights and interior lights on timers & vary the on/off times
  • Stop newspapers, have mail forwarded or held at the post office and ensure flyers are removed from your mailbox
  • Have driveways/walkways cleaned after snowfalls 
 
 Protect Your Home from Thieves
 
  • Do not post your travel plans on social media
  • Remove all valuables you are not taking to an outside location
  • Ensure all exterior doors & windows are secure. Install deadbolts on doors, sliding locks on French or sliding doors. Ensure all door/window frames can’t be separated
  • Confirm your alarm systems are working and being monitored

Turn off Your Water Supply – Protect Your Pipes

  • Drain your pipes of water by opening all faucets, and flush toilet to drain water from the bowl and tank. Consider using plumbing antifreeze in toilet tank & bowl to prevent freezing
  • There are instances where shutting your water off is not recommended i.e.: your home is protecting by a fire suppression system.
  • Having a pipe burst anytime can cause significant damage. Please consult an experienced plumber to determine if it’s safe and the best way to shut off your water supply
 
Keep Your Home Warm
 
  • Set your furnace thermostat at 12° minimum to keep pipes from freezing (if you choose to not drain water system), to keep interior walls warm and prevent wood floors from warping
  • Shut off water supply to washing machines & dishwashers
  • Shut off water supply to hot water tanks
  • Shut off water supply to exterior water faucets
  • Consider a water flow sensor and low temperature sensor to monitor your main water supply pipe. Having it connected to your smart phone or monitored is an excellent idea
 
Perform Routine Maintenance Before Leaving
 
  • Consider having a licensed electrician inspect your main electrical panel, wiring & outlets
  • Remove dead trees or large overhanging limbs that can damage your home
  • Have your heating system inspected and ensure all fuel tanks are filled
  • Have your roof inspected and clean gutters
  • Unplug all non-essential appliances. Plug major appliance & computers into a power bar and turn off master switch. Consider surge protectors for sensitive electronics
  • Remember to retrieve voice mail so it does fill up
 
Protect Your Home from Unwanted Pests
 
  • Clean your home to discourage critters from moving in. Consider unplugging your fridge, freezer leaving doors open to prevent milder
  • Inspect your home for openings that animals could enter in. A dime size hole is all a mouse needs to get into the warmth
  • Close fireplace flue and consider having your chimney inspected prior to leaving. 
  • Check weather stripping around doors & windows
 
Be Emergency Ready
 
  • Install smoke & carbon monoxide detectors – regularly confirm these are working
  • If you are in high wind areas consider storm shutters. Properly anchor exterior personal property
  • Notify police department that your property will be vacant, and provide emergency contact numbers
  • Have a trusted friend or family member regularly monitor your home, and its heating, electrical and water systems. Provide an emergency contractor list if repairs or service is needed

Download your vacant home checklist here from The Travelers Companies 

 

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