What you need to do depends on how long you are planning to be gone. If you're just leaving for the weekend, I suggest leaving things as is and simply turn off the main water supply in the basement in case there is a leak. If you are planning to vacation for more than 3 days you should follow these steps.
1) Prevent your home from looking empty to avoid break-ins.
a) Do not post your vacation plans on social media.
b) Stop the newspaper and mail or ask a neighbor to pick them up.
c) Park your car inside the garage and ask a neighbor to park in your driveway.
d) Put at least one light on a timer.
e) Install a motion-activated sensor on an outdoor floodlight.
f) Make sure your lawn stays trimmed or driveway is shovelled.
2) Give access to a friend or neighbour and ask them to check on the home every 24 hours. This is important for insurance purposes. They should be checking these items while in the home.
a) The heating system is operational.
b) Windows and doors are locked.
c) There is no water in the basement.
3) It is ideal to leave a list of contacts your friend can call for problems with sump pumps, heating systems, water issues, pets, etc. along with a method of payment to expedite the process.
4) Leave the heating system ON. If the furnace is turned off, or fails, while you're on vacation the results can be catastrophic. Frozen water lines and even heaved foundations and structural issues can occur.
5) Check the furnace filter. A dirty furnace filter can cause the heating system to shut down.
6) Turn down the temperature of your hot water tank.
a) If you have an "on-demand" hot water system, this step is not needed.
b) Most of Calgary and area use conventional hot water heating systems that will fire a few times per day to keep the water warm, this is unnecessary if you are away. On the bottom of the hot water tank you will see this knob, simply set to "vacation" or "low".
c) I don't recommend shutting down the hot water tank completely as you will need to re-ignite the pilot light upon returning from your vacation.
d) If you have an electric hot water tank simply shut off the breaker at the electrical panel. ENSURE that upon your return you turn on the main water and run a hot water faucet for several minutes before turning the power to the water heater back on. Electrical elements inside the electric hot water tank will be damaged if they fire without water!
7) Ensure all windows and doors are locked. Close main floor and basement blinds to prevent anyone from looking inside.
8) Double check gas fired appliances such as gas stoves, fireplaces, to ensure they are turned off. Unplug any scented plug ins (Glade, Scentsy, etc.). Unplug coffee pots and alarm clocks or any other electronics on a timer.
9) Turn off the switch in the garage that provides power to the garage door. It is usually located next to the garage light switch and can help prevent access to the garage.
10) Right before you leave I highly recommend turning off the main water supply. This is located in the basement. Upon returning home open the water valve slowly allowing pipes to fill with water before allowing full pressure. If your vacation will last more than two weeks I would also suggest pouring 1/2 cup of vegetable oil in each sink in the home. This will prevent the p-trap from drying up and allowing sewer gases to enter the home. Upon your return, simply rinse with hot water.
If you have any questions about any of these procedures simply contact On The Money Home Inspections at 403-909-7600, we are happy to help!
Enjoy your vacation!!!