Life often takes us on journeys that require us to be away from home for extended periods. Whether it's a long vacation, a work assignment, or other commitments, leaving your home unattended for an extended period can expose it to potential risks. From plumbing issues to security concerns, there are various aspects of your home that demand attention before embarking on an extended absence. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore practical steps and tips to help you prepare your home and minimize the risk of unexpected damage.
Securing Your Home
- Locks and Security Systems:
- Before leaving, double-check all doors and windows to ensure they are properly locked. Consider upgrading your locks to high-security options. If you have a security system, make sure it's active and inform the monitoring company about your absence.
- Smart Home Technology:
- Invest in smart home devices that allow remote monitoring and control. Smart doorbells, cameras, and sensors can provide real-time updates on any unusual activities, giving you peace of mind while you're away.
- Exterior Maintenance:
- Trim any overgrown bushes or trees near windows and entrances. A well-maintained exterior not only deters burglars but also prevents potential damage from fallen branches during storms.
- Water Supply:
- Turn off the main water supply to prevent leaks and water damage. If you live in a colder climate, consider draining the plumbing system to avoid frozen pipes. Insulate exposed pipes and leave cabinet doors open to allow warm air circulation.
- Unplug non-essential electronic devices to prevent energy wastage and reduce the risk of electrical fires. Ensure that major appliances like stoves and ovens are turned off. If possible, turn off the main circuit breaker.
- Heating and Cooling:
- Adjust your thermostat to a temperature that conserves energy but prevents extreme temperature fluctuations. In colder climates, keep the heating system on at a low setting to prevent frozen pipes.
Appliance and System Maintenance
- Refrigerator and Freezer:
- Empty and clean your refrigerator and freezer to prevent unpleasant odors upon your return. Consider donating perishable items or plan meals to use them before you leave.
- HVAC System:
- Schedule a routine maintenance check for your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system. Clean or replace filters to ensure optimal performance and air quality. This will also reduce the risk of system malfunctions.
- Water Heater:
- If you'll be away for an extended period, consider turning off your water heater or setting it to the lowest temperature. This not only saves energy but also reduces the risk of malfunctions.
- Seal Entry Points:
- Conduct a thorough inspection of your home for potential entry points for pests. Seal cracks and openings to prevent unwanted visitors during your absence.
- Dispose of Food Waste:
- Ensure all perishable food items are disposed of before leaving. Clean kitchen surfaces and empty trash bins to minimize the attraction of pests.
- Arrange for Pest Control Services:
- If your area is prone to specific pests, consider hiring professional pest control services. They can provide preventive treatments to keep your home pest-free.
- Bills and Mail:
- Set up automatic payments for essential bills or schedule payments for the duration of your absence. Alternatively, ask a trusted friend or neighbor to collect your mail to avoid the appearance of an empty home.
- Notify Financial Institutions:
- Inform your bank and credit card companies about your travel plans to avoid any issues with transactions flagged as suspicious. This step can prevent unnecessary freezes on your accounts.
- Neighbors and Friends:
- Inform trustworthy neighbors or friends about your absence. Share your contact information and a spare key with someone you trust. This person can keep an eye on your home, pick up mail, and address any emergencies.
- House Sitters:
- If possible, consider hiring a house sitter. Having someone stay in your home not only provides security but also ensures that any unexpected issues are addressed promptly.
- Review Policies:
- Before leaving, review your home insurance policy to understand coverage limits and any specific requirements during extended absences. Consider additional coverage if necessary.
- Document Belongings:
- Take inventory of valuable items and document them through photographs or videos. This documentation can be crucial in the event of a claim.
- Create an Emergency Kit:
- Prepare an emergency kit with essential supplies like flashlights, batteries, first aid items, and contact information for local emergency services. Make sure your house sitter or a trusted neighbor knows the location of this kit.
- Water and Food Storage:
- Store an ample supply of bottled water and non-perishable food items in case of emergencies. This ensures you have basic necessities if you're unable to return as planned.
- Check Appliances:
- Verify that all appliances are turned off and unplugged. This includes small appliances like coffee makers and toasters.
- Garbage Disposal:
- Empty and clean your garbage disposal to prevent unpleasant odors upon your return.
- Secure Valuables:
- If you have valuable items like jewelry, important documents, or electronics, consider storing them in a safe or a secure location.
Preparing your home for an extended absence requires careful planning and attention to detail. By following these comprehensive steps, you can significantly reduce the risk of unexpected damage and ensure the safety and security of your property. Whether you're embarking on a long vacation or facing an extended work assignment, the peace of mind that comes from knowing your home is well-prepared is invaluable. Take the time to implement these measures, and you'll return to a home that is just as you left it, welcoming you back without any unpleasant surprises.
At the Voss Law Firm we strive to help you get back to normal as fast as possible after an insurance denial or “low ball” offer. If you feel you have been unfairly treated by your insurance company, please call (888) 296-1986, input your information for a Free Claim Review or chat with us today.