As the warm weather sets in up north, snowbirds – condominium and homeowners who spend a large portion of winter in warmer locales – begin to pack their bags and prepare to head north for the summer. But before you lock the doors and hit the road, there are certain precautions to take for securing your home and making sure it’s as welcoming upon the return as it was when you left.
1. Find a reliable house sitter – usually someone you trust, such as a relative, friend or neighbor. This person can easily visit your home once or twice a month to check on appliances, sinks, air conditioning systems and other possible sources of problems. If you feel uncomfortable lending someone your key, then have someone drive by to check the outside of your home for signs of something wrong, including break-ins by people or infestations by pests.
2. Remove all movable objects from porches and patios. Severe storms and hurricanes can turn patio furniture into dangerous projectiles that can damage your home or a neighbor’s.
3. Close your drapes and blinds. The last thing you want is for strangers to peer into your home and discover you are away.
4. Stop newspaper and mail deliveries. Stacked papers outside or a full mailbox may attract unwanted attention.
5. Turn off the water. For most older condos and homes, the water valve is located inside the home, such as garages or utility rooms. Once the valve is tightly closed, turn on your sink and bathtub valves to make sure no water comes out and to release air pressure within the pipes.
6. Set the air conditioner to 80 degrees. This temperature is enough to keep the bills down and prevent mold build-up on walls and carpets. It’s recommended to have your air-conditioning system checked by a contractor before you leave for months at a time.
7. Drain the hot water heater. This prevents leaks or floods caused by a faulty drain pan system or ruptured water heater tank.
For more information on how to secure your home while you're away, check out this Sun-Sentinel article.