With Spring Break around the corner and many of us looking for ways to escape this never ending polar vortex cycle, we wanted to remind everyone to remember to ensure your prepare your home before you leave to help avoid potential problems you won’t be able to address while you are away. While it is best to check with your insurance company to see exactly what steps you should take, we have six steps listed below that can help protect your home from water damage, heating/electrical system malfunctions and other possible threats while you are away for an extended period of time.
1. Turn off the water
Before you leave, turn off your main water line. If your furnace fails while you’re away, and the temperature drops, water in the pipes could freeze and potentially burst the pipes causing extensive damage. After you have turned off the main source, open up every faucet and drain the water lines. Go through your home and make sure the toilets, water heater (turn off the gas or electric supply first) have all been drained.
2. Check the thermostat’s settings.
Reduce the temperature of your to around 15’C to save energy. You just need to keep your home warm enough so your pipes don’t freeze. Keep in mind that most thermostats are programmable now and run on batteries. If you haven’t changed your batteries this year, it’s time to do it before you leave. The last thing you need is your furnace to stop running because your thermostat dies!
3. Get rid of extra food
Don’t keep any food that is likely to go bad while you’re away and empty your freezer as much as possible before you leave. If the electric fails in your absence and then is restored, the food in your freezer will thaw and refreeze, which is very dangerous. If you are unable to empty your freezer, place a coin on top of a frozen ice cube. If the ice cube melts while you’re away, the coin will sink into the ice cube and will freeze inside of it once the power kicks back on. If this happens you will know that there was a power outage while you were away and now you can discard any frozen foods. Additionally, you should take out all trash, recycling and compost to avoid attracting critters.
4. Pull the plugs
Electronics still use energy, even when switched off, so unplug small appliances (toaster, coffee machine) and extra lamps to help save on energy and protect against power surges.
5. Make your home look lived in
Confirm that your alarm systems are in working order and have been activated. You may also want to consider a couple of “smart” options such as “smart bulbs” and “smart plugs” that allow you to control lighting through your smartphone or a programmed routine. You could also install motion-sensitive exterior lights to discourage prowlers. Depending on the amount of time you are away, you may want to forward your mail and stop newspaper delivery and ask a friend to pick up items that may be left at your door. While you are away escaping the snow, don’t forget that your home is not! Arrange for someone to remove snow after storms or at the very least, to drive on your driveway making it appear as if you are home. Keep window blinds pulled and valuables tucked away out of sight. Lastly, avoid posting your travel plans or vacation pictures on social media sites until you are home, as potential thieves can use that information to learn when your house will be vacant.
6. Perform routine maintenance before you leave
Depending on the amount of time you will be away, you may want to have your heating system inspected and serviced by a licensed professional before the onset of cold weather.Your furnace works overtime in the winter so if you intend on leaving it on over your vacation pay close attention to it’s condition. If your furnace should quit while you are away in the winter, your pipes can freeze up and the ensuing flood can cause massive damage to your home and even neighbouring properties for those residing in multi-residential complexes. At Ignite Heating and Air Conditioning we complete a comprehensive checklist to clean your furnace and ensure preventative measures are taken to keep your furnace running efficiently. We leave you a copy of our checklist outlining everything that was looked at, and any preventative maintenance tips that we might have for you. Give us a call @ 780.919.4916 today to book your annual furnace maintenance before you leave.