When traveling out of town this holiday season, there are a few steps homeowners can take to mitigate risks of crime and to keep their homes in proper working order. The time tested traditions of stopping the mail, using timers to turn lights and electronics on and off at various intervals, and having a friend or neighbor check on the home daily work well to mitigate crime. Additionally, your maintenance routine is important to ensure your pipes are protected as overnight temperatures start to drop on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Here are some tips for protecting your home while out of town in more detail.
Interior Lighting Timers: Crimes of opportunity can be held at bay with a simple lighting strategy. Setting interior lights to turn off and on at intervals will help suggest there is someone at home. Smart plugs are available that feature an “away” mode. You can connect lighting (and televisions and radios) to the smart plugs and the lights will turn on and off at random intervals to provide the illusion of an occupied home.
Social Media Posts: Refrain from posting your vacation plans on social media. You can share all your wonderful adventures, and pictures after you return home.
Doors & Windows: It’s very easy to check if your doors and windows are closed and locked. Check your doors and all your windows. It’s that simple. (and don’t forget to lock the garage door)
Remove Spare Key: You might believe you have a clever hiding spot for your spare key. Nevertheless, it is best to remove your hidden outdoor key when you are away. Potential burglars are well aware of clever hiding spots, and they will look for the key.
Alert Your Alarm System Representative: If you have an alarm system in place, contact your provider and let them know you will be away for an extended period of time.
Good Neighbors: If you have good neighbors you trust, or a trusted friend, request a daily visit to your home when away. You can ask them to bring in your mail, turn on faucets to warm the pipes, and water the plants. Don’t forget to bring them a token of thanks when you return (theater tickets, a bottle of merlot, or a pear gift basket work nicely) so they feel appreciated. You will also be asked to return the favor in the future.
Mail & Deliveries: If your trusted neighbors or trusted friends are also going out of town, take the time to stop your mail and newspaper from being delivered. An accumulation of mail, newspapers, or packages on your porch is a sure sign no one has been at home. This makes your home an easier target for a crime of opportunity.
Best Practices for Cold Weather
HVAC: Remember to change the filters on your HVAC system at the recommended intervals. You can set your thermostat to conserve energy, and save money, while out of town. But remember to set the temperature to 55º-65º Fahrenheit to protect your pipes from freezing and bursting during the fall and winter. Temperatures below 65º will not keep interior walls from freezing. You will need to use your judgment, or speak to your heating professional, to determine the best temperature for your home.
Pipes: Protecting your pipes from freezing in the winter is fairly simple. In addition to keeping your thermostat set above 55º Fahrenheit (or higher, depending on your home and the time of year) you can open the cabinet doors in the kitchen and bathrooms to help the warm air circulate around the plumbing. Keep the interior room doors open to allow for warm air to circulate. Exposed pipes should be properly insulated, they are at risk of bursting in just a few hours when the temperature drops below 20º F. And don’t forget to detach the garden hose!
Smart Water Leak Detector: If you don’t already have a water leak detector in your home, consider having one installed. Water leak detectors are designed to turn off the water at the main water supply to your home in the event of leaks, and freezing water temperatures in the pipes (which could lead to burst pipes). These devices can be set up to alert you, so you can turn off the water supply remotely on your phone, or automatically shut it off when a problem is detected.
Benson & Mangold is the largest real estate brokerage in Talbot County, MD. Chuck Mangold is a lifelong resident of Talbot County and joined the brokerage in 2001. We look forward to helping you find your perfect home on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Contact Chuck today for all of your real estate needs. Have a safe and happy holiday!