What to do With Your House When You Go on Summer Vacation

About to head out of town for one of those final summer getaways? Besides remembering to pack the essentials, there are also some to-dos around the house that should be added to your home checklist. A lot can happen while you’re away, from power surges to leaks to even intruder attempts which is why it’s that much more important to do everything you can to ensure your home is protected. Below, see several quick and easy tips that will help prepare the house for your absence.

1 Set your water heater on “vacation mode or turn off”

Most water heaters these days have a vacation mode that will only let it run occasionally while you’re gone. A standard water heater holds generally between 40 and 50 gallons of water and it’s ready to use at any time. Many people don’t realize it’s ready to be used because it has an internal thermostat that maintains the temperature all day. If gone for roughly two weeks, it’ll be constantly firing up all day long to maintain that temperature. Just make sure to flip the switch before you leave and flip it back on when you get home. It should take at most 20 minutes for it to heat back up to normal.

2 Shut off water and prevent water damage

Turning off the water at the main shut-off valve will help prevent any plumbing leaks while you’re on vacation, but if you do want to keep your water on for the person checking on your house or for your lawn sprinklers, there are a few proactive things you can do to prevent damage from a leak that may arise. The two areas where you’ll generally have a problem are the water heater and washing machine. For those areas, talk to your plumber about setting up an automatic shutoff valve that can turn off the water as soon as it senses a leak.

3 Make sure storm drains are clean

There’s nothing like a big summer storm to create chaos on your place, especially while you’re out of town. A good practice is to make sure your storm drains are flowing freely before you leave. If a big storm comes through, it could back up into your house and flood the whole basement.

4 Unplug appliances

Summer storms can also cause power surges, so we recommends unplugging anything that’s not a requirement while you’re gone. Not only will this protect your appliances if a surge were to happen, but it can also save energy. Some home appliances such as treadmills, fax machines, and printers can take five to six watts per hour and there is no need in using that energy if you’re not even home.

5 Turn down the temperature

Another thing you don’t want to be using too much of while you’re away is your AC. leaves his thermostat at 78-80 degrees when he’s out of town. As far as the winter season, we recommends not letting it get below 60-65 degrees. You can also purchase a wireless thermostat that can communicate with your smartphone. If you’re on vacation and you see that your house is getting hotter and hotter, it’s an indication that something went wrong. That’s when you can phone a friend and have them check on the place for you.

6 Embrace technology

From home monitoring systems that allow you to check in on your place via your smartphone to an app that notifies you when someone rings your doorbell and lets you talk to them, there are plenty of ways to stay connected to your home even if you’re on a beach hundreds of miles away. We also recommends investing in a smart lock for your front door that lets you send an electronic key to someone from 24 hours. If you need to let a house guest in or someone needs to check your home, you don’t ever have to worry about someone having your key or leaving the key outside for them. It also tells you when they go in and out and you can recall the key at any time.

7 Leave the lights on

Lights are one of the best ways to give the appearance of being home.When it comes to intruders, even if they know you’re gone, a well-lit home can be less attractive than a dark one. You can have an electrician install timers in your light switches, or you can buy some for your lamps. There are also day/night sensors that you can add to flood lights that will switch them on and off.

8 Turn the furnace off

Many homeowners throughout the Madison area question if they should turn off their furnace while they go on vacation. Turning off your furnace can save you money on your utility bills; however, it can cause more harm than good. To prevent coming home to a disaster, keep your furnace ON. Whether you are leaving your home for one weekend or one month, it is important to keep your furnace on to help prevent a costly disaster.

9 Sump Pump Monitor

A majority of homeowners discover that their sump pump has a problem when the basement is already flooded. The Sump Pump Smart Outlet connects to the free PumpSpy Monitoring Service that constantly watches your sump pump automatically, 24/7.  Simply connect the Smart Outlet to your Wi-Fi network and plug in your sump pump and it will automatically track incoming data from your sump pump and check that the pump is working properly. If any issues are detected, PumpSpy automatically sends out text messages, emails and app alerts. Download the App to receive reports, alerts and check your sump pump anytime, anywhere. The PumpSpy Sump Pump Smart Outlet includes: Smart Outlet, screw, high water sensor, mounting bracket and installation guide. Wi-Fi network required. Protect your basement from flooding with the PumpSpy Sump Pump Smart Outlet.

10 Water Leak Detector

This type of product takes a more holistic approach to water leak prevention. Rather than placing sensors near appliances, faucets, and fixtures that might leak, the products in this category analyze your water system at the main supply coming into your home to look for anomalies. If they detect a leak, they can shut off the water supply to prevent catastrophic damage.

Take these tips into consideration and enjoy your next summer vacation worry-free!


Pharo Heating & Cooling is a full-service HVAC contractor in Madison. Our team provides top quality service for new construction and replacement furnace and air conditioner needs. For more information about annual furnace inspection or concerns, give us a call at 608-849-5410 or submit a contact form through our website.