This time of year is prime time for traveling in Lancaster County. People all across the county – from Manheim Township to Mount Joy – find themselves traveling to visit friends and family, escape the winter temperatures, or just take a much needed vacation. This ends up leaving their home sitting vacant for days or weeks. We’ve had our share of phone calls from clients who have been away only to come home to find a burst pipe or toilet that’s been running for weeks on end. Below is a list that we compiled of six helpful tips for keeping your home secure when you’re away. Whether you have a single family home, townhouse, or condo – these are great things to keep in mind!
Turn off your water
Nearly every home has a main water shutoff valve. This is often located in your basement or near your water meter. It is a great idea to shut off your main water supply while you’re away. If you’re interested in protecting the house even further, consider shutting off the water source to all of your sinks and toilets. Most have shut off valves directly underneath them. By shutting off your water supply, you’re insuring that if a pipe were to burst while you’re away, or a leak were to start, the water that will leak into the house is only water that is currently held within the plumbing. If your water main is on – that burst or leak can continue endlessly!
Turn heat down – NOT off!
Many people want to turn their heat off when they know they’ll be gone for a long time. You won’t be home so why pay to keep your furniture warm? Well, despite the fact that there is a little cost involved, turning your heat off completely is not the way to go. If temperatures drop below freezing, the water in your pipes can freeze as well. This can cause pipes to burst or rupture which can cause damage amounting to much more than paying a few extra days of heat. If you’re like to save a few bucks, we recommend just lowering your thermostat to around 55-60 degrees while you’re away.
Stop your mail delivery
Alert your postman or the post office directly that you’ll be away and give them the dates. They’ll typically hold your mail for the time you’re away. This will help ensure that your mailbox doesn’t get overfull and none of your confidential mail will be sitting unattended for days or weeks on end. Additionally, mail that has piled up is a sure sign that the owners aren’t home and a welcome sign for thieves looking for an easy target.
Alert a trustworthy neighbor
Contact a neighbor who you trust and let them know you’ll be gone. Ask them to keep an eye on the home and alert you if anything looks suspicious or out of place.
Secure the home
Make sure that all doors, windows, and other entry points are secure. If you have additional locks that aren’t used on a daily basis, be sure those are engaged as well. Perhaps you have a security system. Make sure it is armed and that they security company has a local contact who can check the house if something were to occur.
Contact a nearby friend or family member and let them know the dates you’ll be away. Give them a key to the home and ask them to check in once or twice. Line up someone to take care of any lawn or snow maintenance that may need to happen while you’re away. Un-shoveled driveways and walkways are another red flag that owners are not residing in the home.
By taking these simple steps you’ll be able to protect your home more securely and enjoy a more worry-free time away!