Updated: Jul 28, 2021
How to secure your biggest investment
Between the warming weather and increased time away from home, the spring season can be particularly dangerous for homeowners. Disasters like floods, leaks and burglaries can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars to resolve - and are sure to total even more in stress. Fortunately, there are quite a few safeguards you can implement to prevent both security breaches and the wrath of unpredictable spring weather. If you’re slipping away for spring break, follow these ten tips to secure your home before leaving town, so you can truly relax while you’re away.
1. Set the HVAC Leaving your home too warm could cause mold or mildew, while setting your AC too low will leave you with some pretty unhappy houseplants. While you’re away, consider setting your thermostat slightly warmer than usual, and, per Consumer Reports, certainly no lower than 55° F, to properly maintain your home’s humidity levels. Or, you may want to invest in smart automation for your heating and cooling for customizable settings while you’re away.
2. Invest in a home security system Home security systems are rising in popularity, and for good reason: a small financial investment now is well worth peace of mind and safeguarding down the road. According to U.S.News & World Report, Frontpoint, Vivint Smart Home and Ring Alarm are among the best this year, but do some research to determine which system fits your needs and budget. If you’ve already chosen and installed a home security system, double check for any low or dead batteries.
3. Protect your pipes A busted pipe can damage walls, floors and belongings, particularly if left unattended for long periods of time. According to Consumer Reports, you can purchase pipe insulation for 50 cents per linear foot at most hardware stores, “So for not much more than the cost of the aspirin you’d need, you can avoid the headaches of cleanup, loss of precious keepsakes, and the cost of your insurance deductible.” If you live in an area prone to late-spring freezes, consider confirming your pipes are protected before taking off.
4. Install an outdoor sensor light Sometimes all that’s needed to deter an intruder is a little light. Many modern motion-sensor flood lights are affordable, customizable and DIY-friendly. Survey which corners of your yard are most in need of illumination, and choose a model that checks all your boxes.
5. Switch your water heater to vacation mode Another great way to prevent frozen plumbing, for those who live in areas prone to cold snaps, is to set your water heater to vacation mode. Vacation mode automatically drops the water heater’s temperature to conserve energy while maintaining water flow. Depending on your water heater, check for a ‘Vacation’ or ‘VAC’ setting. Otherwise, you can manually set the temperature to the lowest setting your heater allows, and, if you’re interested, consider prioritizing that vacation mode setting next time you’re in the market!
6. Install Timers on Electronics If anyone is staking out your neighborhood, dark windows for a week straight is a dead giveaway. Outlet timers allow you to set on and off times for lights, radios and TV’s, spoofing the fact that someone may be home. Find a model that fits your budget while offering enough customization capabilities for your taste.
7. Safeguard against power surges If your town is prone to springtime storms, you’re likely aware of power surge risk during a lightning storm. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, “One lightning strike has enough energy (~1500 MJ) to power a 100W light bulb for almost half a year!” To protect against that kind of overload, consider either disconnecting any non-essential electronics, such as your computer, toaster and microwave, or safely plugging them into a surge protector before your departure.
8. Lay low on social media In the age of social media, it can be hard to refrain from advertising vacations, but one of the biggest safety tips is simply keeping your travel plans to yourself. Avoid posting photos of your home, which can be geolocated through a reverse image search, as well as your phone number, which can be researched and tracked back to your address. Also avoid posting adventure photos in real time, just in case any of your Facebook friends are, in fact, not real friends, and decide to investigate your empty home! Those beach-front selfies can wait for their debut until you return from your spring break vacay.
9. Clear storm drains and gutters Poor drainage can put your home at risk of serious water damage. Clear storm drains and gutters are always important, but they become critical when you won’t be home to respond in real time. Before you leave, clean and repair gutters, drains and downspouts. HGTV recommends a pre-clean, assess and deep clean process, to ensure things are flowing smoothly.
10. Ask for Help If you’re still a little worried, consider providing a friend or trusted neighbor with a spare house key. They may be able to stop by periodically, turning lights on and off, running water and ensuring nothing is amiss. Neighborhood watch groups and local law enforcement agencies may also be able to keep an eye on things, or even conduct periodic safety checks. While checking some items off this list will require a little more investment and forethought than others, taking any action now could save you major stress down the road. Just a few safeguards mean you can fully relax while you’re away, and you know what they say: better safe than sorry!
Article by: Motto Mortgage
Apr 25, 2021
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