Going away on vacay? Here's how to prep your home so it stays safe and sound
Contractor Darren Voros shares his top tips to help you come back to your home exactly the way you left it.
Being ready for a vacation means more than packing your bags — you also have to make sure that your house is ready for the trip! Whether you're headed away for a long weekend or an entire season, there are some simple steps you can take to ensure your house stays safe and sound while you're away. And since there are so many smart home inventions out there, it may be time to reconsider your standard light timer. So for some added peace of mind, contractor Darren Voros stopped by The Goods with his travel-ready tips so that you'll come back to your home exactly the way you left it.
For the long weekend trip
Secure your windows and doors
The obvious first thing to do is to make sure that the whole house is secure. Try putting a dowel in the slots of windows or doors. Locks can sometimes be easily opened so this helps make it more secure. In fact, most built-in sliding door locks are usually a simple latch system, so the dowel is a great secondary security measure if a burglar bypasses the lock. Vorros even suggests painting the wood insert a bright colour to help deter would-be burglers before they even try to break in.
Put a padlock inside the garage door
You may not know it, but garage door tracks have built-in holes along the track. A simple way to keep these doors more secure while you're out of town is to attach a padlock with an extra long neck to the inside of the garage. This will keep your door from rolling up and it's especially important if you use your garage to store any valuables or expensive vehicles.
For the one week trip
Turn the water off
For a week-long trip, Voros likes to shut the water off through the main valve shut off. Your main water shut off is generally in the basement near the outside wall at the front of the house. If you don't have a basement, you might find it near the water heater, or sometimes it's located outside in a street box. He recommends shutting it off and then turn a fixture on, like a toilet, at the top and bottom point of the house to drain the water out of the system. This is a great precaution because if the pipes freeze while you're gone there will be far less water damage to the property.
Let your water heater go on vacay too
Voros also suggests that you put your water heater on vacation mode. This reduces its energy consumption, while powering it with just enough energy to keep pipes from freezing. You'll also save energy while you're gone so it's a win win!
For the two week trip
Install a smart home device
Smart home devices are great for efficiencies, security and convenience. You can do everything from controlling lighting and temperature to monitoring alarms and even surveillance.
Install Wi-Fi enabled light switches
This is a great option if your smart home does not control lighting or if the smart home is not for you. Voros says do not rely on light timers that turn your lights on and off at the same time every day! Instead, program a Wi-Fi enabled light switch for random times throughout the weeks you're gone. He says you want to be a little smarter than any potential burglars, and tools like this can help.
For the one month or longer trip
These tips are for the snowbird who heads south for winters or someone who may have a secondary property or cottage. Voros says that doing all of the above is probably suffice, but here are two additional considerations for added peace of mind.
Make sure your attic is well insulated
A well-insulated attic will keep ice dams from forming on your roof and help ward off potential problems that may be waiting for you when you return in the spring. Ice dams are caused by warm air escaping through the roof. If you are going to be away all winter, inspect your attic before taking off, and Voros says that if you see any issues, insulation sprays can be an efficient way to keep your house safe and sound.
Invest in a motion sensor light with a built-in camera
Voros recommends investing an outdoor bulb with a built in Wi-Fi enabled camera. If the light senses motion it will turn on, and then the camera starts recording simultaneously. The brilliant part is that you can get the footage delivered directly to your phone! A fixture like this is pretty inconspicuous and it's the same size as a regular light fixture. Try to place it up high so that you can get the best view of your property, and consider installing more than one so you can have surveillance in multiple areas around your property.