You know the drill before packing the car and heading out of town on vacation—stop the mail, give a neighbor a key to check in on the house occasionally, and take out all the trash. But what about the house itself? These quick, simple tasks can help prevent coming home to a disaster, whether you leave for a long weekend or month-long getaway.
Turn Off the Main Water Supply - "If you're going to have a leaking supply line, it's going to happen while you're away," says Fred Spaulding, president of Quality Home Improvements, Inc., in Kingwood, Texas. And a major leak could be catastrophic if there's nobody around to deal with it. In the Houston area, where he lives, for example, hot-water tanks are placed in attics to avoid taking up floor space in living areas. "If that water tank leaks, you'd better catch it quick," he says. "I've seen cabinets in kitchens destroyed. It only takes a little bit of a leak." Closing the valve on the main supply line cuts off water to the house but still allows outside sprinklers to work. If you do spring a leak inside, the line will be under some initial pressure, but it will not continue to spray water. "Instead of thousands, literally thousands, of gallons of water, you might have 50 gallons from the hot-water tank leak," Spaulding says. "There is no downside whatsoever [to turning off the water]. It takes a little bit of time, and it can save thousands of dollars in potential damage."