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Vacation Mode: Your Ultimate Guide to Safeguarding Your Waterloo Region Home While You're Away



It's that time of year again: vacation time! Whether you're jetting off to a tropical paradise or enjoying a short stay at a local holiday cottage, leaving your Waterloo Region home unattended comes with its own set of worries. The last thing you want is to return to a flooded basement, a pest infestation, or worse.


At Team Pinto, we've helped countless homeowners who were in the process of selling their homes prepare their properties for vacations, ensuring peace of mind while they're away. So we've learned a lot along the way and are sharing that wisdom today. Consider this your ultimate guide to safeguarding your investment and returning to a happy, healthy home.


Home Security: More Than Just Locks and Alarms




Yes, securing your home against intruders is crucial, but it's just one piece of the puzzle. True peace of mind comes from a multi-layered approach that addresses both security and preventative maintenance.


Lock It Up and Light It Up


Start with the basics:


  • Secure All Entry Points: Double-check that all doors and windows are locked, including those on higher floors that might seem out of reach.

  • Reinforcements: For added security, consider installing deadbolts on exterior doors and security bars on basement windows.

  • Exterior Lighting: Motion-activated lights around your property act as a deterrent to potential intruders.

  • Interior Lights on Timers: Set a few lights inside your home to turn on and off at varying times to create the illusion of occupancy.

  • Garage Security: Lock your garage door and ensure any connecting doors to your house are secure.


Smart Home Security for the Modern Homeowner


Technology can be a powerful ally in home security.


  • Security Systems: Invest in a monitored alarm system that alerts authorities in case of a break-in.

  • Smart Locks: Control access to your home remotely, granting temporary entry to trusted friends or family for pet care or plant watering.

  • Security Cameras: Indoor and outdoor cameras can deter intruders and provide valuable evidence in case of a break-in.

  • Connected Devices: Control lights, thermostats, and even garage doors remotely via your smartphone.


It's worth noting that while all of the above can be implemented separately, a central system created with the Google Home, Ring and Alexa or Apple Home Kit offerings can be more economically efficient and easier to install.


The Power of Community


Your neighbours can be your best line of secondary defense in keeping your home secure while y are away.


  • Tell a Trusted Friend or Neighbour: Ask them to keep an eye on your property, collect mail and newspapers, and report any suspicious activity.

  • Neighborhood Watch: If your community has a Neighbourhood Watch program, let them know you'll be away.


Preventative Maintenance: Safeguarding Your Investment (and Your Sanity!)


Preventing problems is far less stressful (and costly!) than fixing them after they occur.


Water Woes: Preventing Leaks and Floods


Water damage is a homeowner's nightmare, and it's even more devastating when it happens while you're away enjoying your well-deserved vacation. Thankfully, there are simple steps you can take to minimize the risk and ensure your return isn't met with a soggy surprise.


The Main Shut-Off: Your Vacation MVP


Before you head out, familiarize yourself with your home's main water shut-off valve. It's usually located in your basement or near the water meter. Turning off this valve cuts the water supply to your entire house, giving you peace of mind in case of leaks or pipe bursts while you're away.


Don't Forget the Little Things:


  • Check for Drips and Leaks: Thoroughly inspect all faucets, showerheads, and toilets for any signs of leaks. Even a slow drip can waste a significant amount of water over time.

  • Appliances: Check the hoses on your washing machine and dishwasher for any signs of wear and tear. Replace them if they look worn to prevent potential bursts.

  • Toilets: If you'll be gone for an extended period, consider turning off the water supply to each toilet to prevent leaks or overflows. You can also add a small amount of bleach to the bowl to prevent bacteria growth.


Additional Tips for Water Safety:


  • Water Heater: Turn your water heater to "vacation mode" or lower the temperature. This conserves energy while preventing the tank from overheating.

  • Consider a Leak Detection System: If you're worried about leaks, consider investing in a smart water leak detector. These devices can alert you to leaks via your smartphone, allowing for prompt action even while you're away.


By taking these proactive steps, you'll significantly reduce the risk of water damage and ensure that you return home to a dry, well-maintained property.


Electrical Safety: Power Down for Peace of Mind


While you're strolling sandy beaches or hiking mountain trails, the last thing you want to worry about is an electrical mishap back home. Taking a few simple precautions can significantly reduce the risk of electrical fires and ensure your appliances are protected during your absence.


Unplug and Unwind


Before you head out, take a walk around your home and unplug any non-essential electronics and appliances. This includes items like:


  • Televisions and computers

  • Coffee makers and toasters

  • Lamps and decorative lighting

  • Chargers for phones and other devices


While the risk of an electrical fire might seem small, it's not worth the worry while you're trying to relax on vacation. Unplugging these items not only reduces the risk but also saves you energy and money.


Surge Protection: Guarding Your Gadgets


For appliances that need to stay plugged in, like your refrigerator or security system, invest in surge protectors. These devices act as a buffer, protecting your valuable electronics from damage caused by power surges. If you live in an area prone to frequent thunderstorms, consider whole-home surge protection for an added layer of security.


Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors: Your Silent Guardians


Don't leave home without ensuring your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are in good working order. Test them before you leave, replace batteries if needed, and consider installing interconnected detectors that sound an alarm throughout the house if one is triggered. These life-saving devices can alert neighbours or authorities in case of a fire or gas leak, even if you're miles away.


Mold Prevention: Beating Back Moisture While You're Away




The Waterloo Region's humid summers can make your home a breeding ground for mold and mildew, especially when you're not around to keep an eye on things. But don't worry, there are simple strategies to keep those pesky spores at bay while you're soaking up the sun on vacation.


Humidity Control: Your First Line of Defense


  • Moisture Muncher: While a dehumidifier is ideal for controlling humidity levels, leaving it running while you're away isn't practical (or energy efficient). Enter moisture absorbers! These little guys, like DampRid, are your low-tech secret weapon. Place them in damp areas like basements, closets, or bathrooms to suck up excess moisture and prevent mold from gaining a foothold.

  • Proactive Plumbing: Before leaving, check under sinks and around appliances for any signs of leaks. Even a slow drip can create a damp environment that mold loves. Fix any leaky faucets or pipes to eliminate those moisture magnets.

  • Open Interior Doors: Before you head out, open all interior doors, including closets and cupboards. This allows air to circulate freely, preventing pockets of moisture from building up.

  • Attic Ventilation: Proper attic ventilation is crucial for preventing moisture buildup and potential mold growth. Check that your attic vents are clear and functioning properly.


Extra Tips


  • Close the Toilet: If you'll be away for an extended period, consider shutting off the water supply to your toilets to avoid any surprises in case of a leak.

  • Natural Light: If possible, leave blinds or curtains partially open to allow sunlight in. UV light can help inhibit mold growth on surfaces.


By implementing these simple strategies, you can help maintain a healthy and mold-free environment in your Waterloo Region home while you're enjoying your vacation.


Landscaping & Exterior: Keeping Things Green




  • Lawn Care: Arrange for someone to mow your lawn while you're away. An overgrown lawn signals an empty house.

  • Plant Watering: Set up automatic irrigation or ask a neighbor to water your plants.

  • Garbage & Recycling: Ensure bins are secured and won't be overturned by animals or wind.


Pest Patrol


No one wants to return from vacation to find a house full of tiny, unwanted guests. To keep pests from partying in your home while you're away, try the following:


  • Seal Entry Points: Inspect your home for cracks or gaps where pests can enter, and seal them up.

  • Food Storage: Clean out your fridge and pantry of perishables that might attract insects or rodents.

  • Garbage Disposal: Empty all garbage bins before you leave and ask your neighbour to put them out on collection day and bring them back in for you.


Team Pinto: Your Peace-of-Mind Partners




Preparing your home for vacation might seem like a lot to remember, but with a bit of planning and our handy checklist, you can rest assured that your Waterloo Region home will be safe and sound while you're away.


And remember, if you're considering selling your home, Team Pinto is your trusted partner. We'll not only provide valuable advice on preparing your home but guide you through the entire selling process to ensure a successful and profitable sale.

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