Summer is when many of us have the time (and the sunny weather) to take a family vacation. Before you leave town, we suggest you consider the following safety tips to prepare your home for being unattended. Not all these tips are plumbing specific, but certainly would apply in case of a plumbing emergency, like a leak or a burst pipe.
- Leave a key with someone you trust. Whether it's a neighbor, a friend or relative that lives nearby, make sure someone local has access to your home in case of emergency. Make sure they have multiple ways to contact you -- for example, cell phone, email and Facebook instant message.
- Schedule A Walkthrough. If you're going to be gone for more than a few days, consider having your trusted person visit your home and do a walkthrough once a week to make sure everything is undisturbed, nothing is leaking, and everything that should be shut off is still turned off.
- Let your neighbors know you'll be gone. Talk to one or more neighbors before you leave and let them know what your plans are.
- Make a local emergency contact list to leave with your trusted person and neighbors. Particularly if you are going to be out of communication range, make sure your friends and neighbors have the name and phone number of the person who has a key and access to your house, and a list of contractors they can call if there is an emergency. For example, put your plumber, electrician, and yard maintenance contractors on the list.
- Keep your house looking like someone is there. Burglars are always looking for easy targets, like unattended homes. When all the cars are gone and newspapers are piling up on the front porch, it's a sure giveaway that no one is one. Either stop your newspaper and mail delivery, or be sure to have a friend or neighbor pick them up every day. It's even a good idea to have neighbors park their cars in your driveway so that it looks like someone is home. Leave your irrigation system running on a timed schedule, and make sure your outdoor security lights are working. You can even put a light or radio in your house on a timer, preferably one that randomly alters the time the device turns on and off so there isn't a fixed pattern.
- Check all your faucets, water spigots, fixtures and toilets for drips and leaks. It's easy when you're rushing to leave on vacation to leave a faucet dripping because your kids didn't shut it off all the way, or forget to check that toilet that sticks once in a while after you flush it. Shut off the water supply to your washing machine at the spigots. To be extra safe, we recommend shutting off the water supply to your toilets, because sometimes they can start leaking after you leave.
- Take a walkthrough of your house and be sure everything is shut off securely or turned off. Also, UNPLUG (don't just turn off) appliances. It'll save you energy, and reduce the risk of electrical shorts and fires.
- Turn off your A/C. There's no reason to keep your house cool when no one is in it. If you have concerns about excessive heat effecting anything in your home, reprogram your thermostat so that the temperature is maintained at a higher setting, like 85 degrees. Many programmable thermostats have a vacation or away mode for this purpose.
- Finally, one thing we recommend you do NOT do: do NOT turn off your water heater. Because it is an insulated tank and water isn't being used, the water will stay hot for long periods and the tank will not use much energy. However, if you turn it off, there is a risk of sediment building up at the bottom of your tank and affecting the performance later on. If you're unsure about this, contact M&M Plumbing for your specific situation.
By following these tips, you can rest easy while you're enjoying your vacation, knowing that your home is protected and others know what to do in the event an emergency arises.