Summer has officially arrived in Hampton Roads! With summer here many families will be planning some sort of getaway. Rather it is a quick weekend getaway or an extended vacation prepping your home is a good idea. Taking just a few minutes to adjust some things around your home you could be avoiding potential damage and money your energy bills while you are away.
Adding these simple and quick steps to your vacation prep list will give you the peace of mind that you’ll come back to the same home you left.
Traditional tank water heaters are one of the highest energy consuming appliances running in your home. As long as you are vacationing in the summer with no threat of freezing temperatures, we suggest simply cutting the temperature down on the water heater. This is done by adjusting the dial on the front of your water heater to the lowest setting available. Some newer models even come with a vacation setting on the dial.
Electric water heaters will usually have two thermostats, and you may have to pull the panel off to access them. Gas water heaters will typically have a thermostat towards the bottom of the unit. Both styles will be round dials that indicate lower and higher degree settings.
In addition to changing the temperature it is recommended that homeowners cut off the cold water supply. All water heaters, gas or electric, will have one of two types of shut off valves attached to the cold water line at the top of the water heater. (See below picture for reference on shut off types.)
MAIN WATER SUPPLY
Shutting off the main water supply to your home could prevent catastrophic water damage. Again, this is only recommended during the summer months when there is no potential for freezing temperatures. Having a water pipe bust while away for a week or even a couple days will undoubtedly lead to major repair and restoration costs. If you do not know where your main shut-off is you should locate it rather you decide to take this step, or not. In the event of a major leak the only way to minimize the damage to your home is to go directly to the main water shut off valve.
Main water shut off valves can be a turn dial or lever, just like the cold supply to your water heater. These valves are most commonly located in one of two places in your home. If you have an attached garage that is most likely where you will find yours. The next most common place would be your kitchen under the counter, often near your kitchen sink. If you do not have one in your home or could not find it, often times, in the Tidewater region you can find one near the street inside the water meter box. To cut these valves off you will need a water meter key or a wrench.
If you decide to shut the water to your home off be sure to open a faucet on the other end of your home to drain what water remains in the line. Upon your return, reopen the main valve slowly to minimize access pressure on your pipes and fixtures.
Your HVAC system is the number one energy user in your home. Depending on the amount time planned away you can either shut off the system completely or at the very least, turn the temperature up. During the summer months there is no real need to completely cool your home while it sits vacant. If you plan on being away for weeks we suggest simply shutting the system off completely at the thermostat. If you are only planning a few days or weekend away setting the thermostat at 85° is ideal.
BEYOND PLUMBING AND HVAC
Taking a few additional steps will help ensure you can enjoy your vacation without worrying about the home you left behind.
- Check the refrigerator for older food or anything that may spoil while away.
- Unplug any smaller appliances to save even more energy.
- Check all trashcans to make sure all trash has been taken out.
- Test smoke detectors to ensure they are all operating.
- Ask a neighbor to collect your mail and/or newspapers or stop service while you are away.
- Leave at least one light on in your home.
Following these few simple steps before you leave for your vacation could save you a headache later. And, as always should you run into a problem before or after your vacation call upon your local R. A. Styron professional for fast and efficient help. R. A. Styron has provided Chesapeake, VA and its surrounding cities with expert repairs for over 60 years and counting! Rather you are need of an expert plumber or HVAC technician, we are your one stop-shop. We are always reachable over the phone at 757-420-5488 or online.