If you’re leaving home for an extended period – maybe for a winter retreat at a second home in Florida, or to return to your primary residence – have you thought about how your house will fare while you’re gone?
Problems can arise in a house whether you’re there or not. Before you leave, keep the following suggestions in mind to ensure you don’t return to any unexpected surprises.
Preparing to Leave Your Home
Take the following steps to make sure your home is ready to be left unoccupied.
- Finish any maintenance work that needs to be done. Don’t let an issue sit and fester while you’re gone.
- Test smoke, carbon monoxide, and gas alarms. Be sure they’re functioning, and replace the batteries if needed.
- Inform the police department. Tell your local police department that you’ll be away so they know to keep an eye on the property.
- Enlist a family member or neighbor. Line someone up to check in on your home while you’re gone.
- Stop deliveries, mail and trash pickup. Or, arrange for your house-sitter to take care of these things, if convenient. You should also arrange for snow removal while you’re gone, if needed.
- Install or update your security system. Empty homes are easy targets for thieves. Consider a home security system or smart doorbell.
- Turn off the water heater and set the furnace lower. Don’t turn the furnace off entirely in the winter, or pipes could freeze. Four to eight degrees cooler than normal should do the trick.
- Unplug any appliances. If it’s not necessary to leave plugged in, better to unplug it (even if it means resetting it when you return).
- Clean out your cupboards and fridge. Remove any perishable food and give your fridge a good scrub to avoid attracting pests.
- Adjust your blinds and consider timed lights. Allow natural light in, but keep prying eyes out. A timer system that varies the location and timing of lights is best.
- Lock all doors and windows. Check doors and windows in unused areas of your home to be sure they’re secured.
- Secure any valuables. Use a safe, safe deposit box or another secured area to store jewelry, cash, and other small valuable items.
- Call your plumber. If you’ll be leaving for an extended period, you may want to contact your plumber about turning the water off to your home to prevent potential flooding.
Finally, be sure to talk to your insurance agent. If you’ll be away for more than 30 days, you’ll need to let your insurance agent know so they can add this information to your homeowner’s insurance file.
More Safety Tips For Your Trip
As you’re preparing to leave, and while away, don’t make public posts or announcements about being gone. This tells people that your home is unoccupied!
If you have smart systems for your home, like a doorbell, thermostat, or other appliances, check in on them regularly to make sure everything looks normal. If needed, have your house-sitter check on the situation.
If you still use a home phone answering machine, check it often and make sure it’s not full – another clue to callers that no one is home.
Do I Need Insurance For an Unoccupied Home?
Yes! If you’ll be away from your residence for 30 days or longer, your homeowner’s insurance will need to reflect that. If you aren’t sure about your coverage or need to talk to us about adding more, give us a call – we’re happy to help.