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Sometimes you will need to leave a home vacant for an extended time while on vacation or if you have to move and the home has not yet sold. One of the biggest risks with leaving any home vacant for a period of time is the potential for water damage if temperatures drop below freezing or other factors cause a pipe to burst. There are, however, actions that you can take to minimize this risk.

We show you what you need to do when leaving a home vacant for more than a few days in this DIY video from Phoenix home inspector Advantage Inspection Service.

Steps To Take Prior to Leaving a Home Vacant

  1. Locate the main water supply shutoff and turn it off.
  2. Open all the faucets on sinks and outside spigots. This relieves the water pressure in the pipes, making them less likely to burst or leak.
  3. Flush each of the toilets. This relieves pressure in the lines and reduces the water sitting in each toilet.
  4. Pour pink automotive or RV antifreeze in each of the sinks, toilet bowls and tanks, shower drains, and dishwasher. Use one cup of antifreeze for sinks and two cups for dishwashers, showers, tubs, and toilet bowls and tanks. This will help prevent damage to drain traps if the temperatures drop below freezing, plus should prevent sewer gasses from entering the home once water evaporates from the traps.
  5. If your home has an electric hot water heater, turn the breaker off at the electrical panel. If the home has a gas hot water heater, turn the gas valve on the water heater to the pilot setting.
  6. Consider setting the thermostat to an energy efficient level. If the home is in a cold climate area, it is not a good idea to shut the heat off. The heat can be turned down to about 60 degrees, but don’t shut it off. Hot and humid climates may require that the air conditioner be left running to avoid mold and mildew problems.
  7. If the home will be vacant for a long time, remove all food and ice from refrigerators and freezers and unplug these appliances.
  8. It’s usually a good idea to set up timers on some of the lamps to give the appearance that someone is living in the home. This discourages break-ins and burglaries.
  9. If you have a trusted neighbor, consider asking them to take in your mail, newspapers and packages to help keep up the appearance that someone is home. Asking them to randomly park in your driveway and inspect the home once per week alleviates another layer of concern.

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