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Home Alone: Preparing Your House for Sitters

Apr 22, 2014 01:23AM ● Published by Erin Frisch

While people are traveling for summer vacations, a lot of homes are left empty. That's more opportunities for break-ins, property damage and theft. Hiring a house-sitter helps keep your home fires burning and the burglars at bay. However, you'll want to address these items first before handing over the keys to your personal kingdom.

Beyond the Basics:

Chances are you've already stocked the fridge, changed your sheets and towels and left a list of emergency contacts for your house sitter. That's a good start, but it's not enough. In order to leave for your travels with a clear conscience and enjoy peace of mind, you're going to have to ensure everything in your home is in good working order. To do so, make a thorough inspection of your home.

Plumbing:

If water runs through it, check it. This means your water heater, taps and faucets, sprinkler system and pipes. Water bills can already be high in the summer, and a leaky faucet or outdoor pipe will have you coming home to an astronomical bill. The Environmental Protection Agency gives a detailed list of what to look for and how to fix home leaks yourself.

Swimming Pool and Hot Tub:

If you have a pool, spa or hot tub, perform any maintenance it needs before you leave. Get the right parts, pumps and chemicals installed and secure a cover if it won't be in use while you are gone. In addition to performing summer maintenance on your pool or hot tub, leave explicit instructions for your house-sitter regarding any expectations you have for pool or hot tub use and care. if you are letting them use your pool, make sure they know how to clean and take care of it so it is in good condition when you return.

Fire Alarms and Electrical:

Faulty wiring and electrical issues are a major cause of house fires, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Not only do you need to check your fire alarms (or install them if you haven't already) you also need to ensure your home's wiring is up to date and functioning properly. It's a good idea to hire an electrician to be on the safe side but one thing you can easily do yourself is check that any extension cords you are using have the proper electrical rating and capacity to handle what you're plugging into them.

Gas Furnaces and Appliances:

Pacific Gas & Electric recommends having your gas furnace serviced once a year to maximize performance and ensure safety. Gas appliances should be kept clean and free of grease in addition to being checked for any leaks. Installing a flexible gas line connection can help reduce the risk of damage in case the appliance is accidentally moved.

Security Systems:

If you own a home security system, give your house-sitter the appropriate codes and phone numbers to properly use the system. Depending on your home security solution, you may also want to give your system provider the name and phone number of your housesitter, in case of emergency. The house-sitting experts at MindMyHouse.com also recommend telling your neighbors you'll be having someone house sit. This can help avoid possible confusion or misunderstandings.

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