Prepping Your Home for Vacation

December is a big month for travel as many of us visit family or take advantage of the winter vacation to head out for a special trip. Whether you go for a short weekend getaway, a week, or a long vacation adventure, it is important to make sure that your home is secure. Here is our quick guide to prepping your home against anything from burglary to more common malfunctions.

Look lived-in.

The first precaution most of us know about is to keep our homes from appearing empty. Burglars are getting craftier in these more desperate economic times. If you can, invest in a house-sitter to have a guaranteed pair of eyes on your house throughout your absence. However, we understand this isn’t always practical. For long trips, try to have a neighbor or someone you trust check in on your house once in a while to look out for any signs of trouble.

Before you leave, make sure all windows are closed and locked. While this seems automatic, some people have upper level windows that they leave open year-round. This might be okay if someone is always in the house, but it can be an invitation to savvy burglars who know they have an empty house to plunder. And it’s easy to forget about those always-open windows. Make sure you put it on your final checklist before you leave.

It’s always a good idea if you have sliding doors to put a wedge (like an old broomstick, for example) in the track to prevent the door from being forced open.

It’s handy to have motion-sensor lights around the outside of your house, but if you don’t have time to install those, stop by your local hardware or home goods store and pick up a timer for interior lamps. For extra security, set lamps in different rooms to go off at slightly different times to make it seem more organic, NOT automatic. When you return, invest in an outdoor sensor—those are an extra layer of security to have even when you are home.

Put a hold on your mail and any newspapers, or make sure you have a reliable neighbor or friend who can pick those up daily.

If you have a lawn, make sure it stays trimmed—or give your yard a good, close landscaping before you leave.

Park your car or cars in your garage if you have one.

If you’re driving and won’t have a car in your driveway, ask a neighbor to park a car in yours while you’re gone.

Take precautions to avoid electric malfunctions.

In case of power outages, unplug computers, televisions, and small appliances. With the added threat of a possible El Nino, you don’t know what might happen with electrical shorts or transformer box explosions.

If you can’t completely turn off your thermostat because of plants or pets, set it for the lowest possible heat setting and the highest possible cool setting. You will also be grateful when your water and power bill comes.

Do a test of your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they are functioning properly. If you think your battery is close to needing a replacement, do it early just to be safe.

Watch the waterworks.

If your water heater has a vacation mode, use that—especially for a longer trip.

Also for long trips, turn off water valves to the dishwasher, washing machine, and all sinks.

Take a look around your house to check for any leaks you may not have noticed. If you find anything serious, you’ll need an emergency repair before you leave; for a small leak, know about it in advance so you can be prepared to get it fixed as soon as you get home.

Run your garbage disposal to make sure your drain is completely empty.

If you live in a condo, make sure you throw in a cup of water into your sink or shower to keep the drain trap filled and prevent the odor from the mixed-use drain from filling your home with the delicate aroma of raw sewage.

And finally…

As simple as it seems, don’t forget to take out the trash. If you end up in a rush to leave, it’s an easy miss. Run through all the trash bins in your home to do a final check. Old trash left in a closed-up house is a recipe for an unhappy homecoming.

Throw away any items in your fridge set to expire while you’re gone. And if you can, use up freezer items before you go in case of the remote instance of your refrigerator calling it quits while you’re away.

If you have a security company, let them know you will be out of town.

And always leave your emergency contact information not just with a friend or family member but with a neighbor who can have eyes on your home the whole time you’re gone.

At Murfey Construction, we understand that your home is probably your most important asset. Taking precautions will help alleviate the worry so you can enjoy your time away. As always, it’s important to monitor your home’s condition to be aware of any red flags that may come up with your plumbing, electrical work, heating and cooling, and appliances. We wish you a happy holiday season and new year, and if your resolution is to update your house in 2016, give us a call at 858-459-6865 or visit us at