Tips for extended stays away from home, Part I

Each year our family heads to Galena for the 4th of July holiday. The rolling hills, patriotic parade and rich history of the town offer us a chance to reconnect. Prior to leaving I go on a cleaning spree. As my family can attest I cannot physically leave the house until the beds are made, the floors are cleaned, and the clothes are all washed and put away. Most other days, at least one (more likely all 3) are left undone as I head to work. Heading off to a vacation is different. I know myself well enough to realize, I won’t be able to relax and enjoy the time away unless the work around the house is complete.

For many residents of Sun City, the idea of preparing for a 3-5 day vacation is magnified considerably when they are leaving for 3-4 months. As a special bonus this fall for Sun Day readers we will feature 3 part series which will include ideas and suggestions for homeowners who will be leaving their residences for an extended period of time.

The Huntley Police Department offers a Vacation House Watch. Based on an officer’s availability, the police may be able to patrol in your area. A request can be made through their website at www.huntley.il.us/departments/police/index.php . You may also contact them at 847-515-5311. They also have two very valuable handouts on their website. They are titled ‘Tips to Prepare your home for a winter vacation’ and ‘Preparing Your Vacant Home (Snowbird Checklist).’ I have found both to be very informative.

In addition to notifying the police department, please also notify a neighbor. Make sure they have your contact information and if possible, the contact information of a relative that lives in the area.

It is important to make sure your home looks lived in. The can be accomplished by making sure someone collects any items that are left by your front door. Depending on the length of your departure, you may want to have your mail forwarded or held for you until you get back. The same would be true for your newspapers. Consider using timers on several lamps in your home. Make sure to put new light bulbs. You may also want to install a motion activated outdoor floodlight.

When preparing the outside of your home, make sure to secure all outside patio furniture, your grill, planters and statues. If you have an extra key hidden outside your home, consider removing it. Also consider winterizing your outdoor faucets. In your garage make sure to drain the fuel out of small engines. Also throw away any liquid that could freeze. You may want to disconnect the garage door opener in your absence and lock the door that leads from the house to the garage. If you are leaving a car in the garage you may want to ask someone to start it occasionally (they may have to manually open the garage door). Consider placing dryer sheets in the car to act as a pest repellent. Consider also contacting a mechanic regarding any specific recommendations they have regarding your make of car.

Before leaving it may prove valuable for you to have routine home maintenance completed. Consider having any large limbs remove if they are hanging over your home.

Clean your gutters and consider having your roof inspected. You may also want to have you HVAC system inspected. Be sure to change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detector and the thermostat for your furnace (if applicable).

The next column will feature an interview with a plumber. We will get their recommendations with regards to winterizing your water pipes and water heater. We will also discuss the best way to protect the small appliances in your home.

Kathleen Carr is the owner of Assurance Home Service, Inc. a Home Watch company. She can be reached by calling 815-790-1247 or tgsinc12@msn.com. Have a question? Please contact her. She may address it in an upcoming column.

Note: Kathleen Carr’s regular Gardeners Forum column is now on its annual hiatus. It will return in the spring of 2018.

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