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Closing Up The House: A Checklist For Homeowners

If you're about to walk out the door for an extended period of time, using this checklist can help keep your home safe while you're gone.

  • Adjust the thermostat. In cold climates, set the thermostat no lower than 55 degrees. In warm climates, set the air conditioner no higher than 85 degrees.
  • Shut off gas to the water heater or turn the temperature control to the “vacation” setting.
  • Unplug all appliances like the toaster, microwave, computer, and television. Make sure the dryer isn't on.

If you choose to leave the water turned on:

  • Turn off the water supply to individual fixtures – in both warm and cold climates.
  • Make sure appliances like the dishwasher and washing machine are not running and that toilets have stopped filling up.
  • If the house has a sump pump, make sure it's working.

Make the house look lived in:

  • Set automatic timers for interior lights on staggered hours, and turn on motion sensors for exterior lights.
  • Ensure all doors, windows, skylights, and vents are properly closed and locked.
  • Stop mail service and newspaper deliveries.
  • Inform local police the house will be empty.

When you return home:

  • Restore services that had been discontinued.
  • Turn on water valves and/or supply lines to each fixture. Run water through every faucet to flush out lines and make sure they work. Carefully check for leaks.

Creating a routine each time you leave your home empty for an extended period of time can reduce the likelihood of a disaster and keep work to a minimum when you return.

-Institute for Business and Home Safety