I just got back home after a quick vacation, and initially everything at the house seemed fine. It was only later in the evening when I tried to get some ice from the freezer, did I realize that we had narrowly missed a huge disaster while we were away. My freezer door was frozen shut, but after a few good tugs it opened up. For the first time ever, I saw a giant block of ice in the freezer. Apparently, the shut off valve to the ice maker failed, allowing water to continue to run into the freezer and not stop, quickly filling the back and bottom of the freezer, with several inches of solid ice.
I say that a disaster was averted because before leaving town, I shut off the water to the house by closing the valve located in the front yard. Although I often laughed at myself while doing this and considered it paranoid, it definitely paid off this time. Had the water not been turned off, my ice maker would have continued spewing water for days eventually leaking onto and ruining the hardwood floors, cabinets, and possibly more. I will never again consider this task paranoid, but an essential part of my vacation preparations.
Before leaving town, here are a few other things I do to prepare the house:
- Turn down the temperature on the water heater to “vacation” or as low as possible.
- Program the thermostat to rarely turn on the heat / ac while we are away.
- Unplug all unused electronics, like TV’s, DVR’s, computers.
- Lock all doors and windows.
- Arrange for mail and newspaper pickups with a neighbor, or suspend them completely.
- Mow the yard, and arrange for it to be mowed if gone for extended periods of time.
- Be sure a neighbor has a contact number to reach you in case of emergency.
Many others recommend setting timers for lights or even a radio to give the appearance of being home, and even leaving curtains or blinds open, and installing a security system if you don’t have one. I personally am less concerned with security than I am with the fact that things can happen while you are away and would simply prefer to prevent as much damage as possible. By taking a few simple steps, like turning off the water, I saved myself (and my insurance company) thousands of dollars and weeks of frustration by preventing a flood in my kitchen.
Now, go on vacation, relax, and enjoy yourself. Your house will be fine when you get home!