- Empty the dishwasher and leave it cracked open (if possible) so any standing water in the system evaporates.
- Clean out the refrigerator. In addition to throwing away food that will spoil, this is a great time to give the fridge a good cleaning.
- Run a mixture of vinegar and water through the garbage disposal so odors don’t build up.
- Empty and wash all trashcans.
- Set the thermostat to reasonable temperature. For a winter trip, set the thermostat to a low temperature, but not so low that pipes will freeze. In summer, set the thermostat to a higher temperature so the air conditioning won’t run unnecessarily.
- Place the water heater on “vacation mode” setting.
- For long trips, put a trickle charge on car batteries. If rodents are a problem in the garage, place dryer sheets around the car to keep them from chewing on wires.
Home Safety Measures
- Place several lights on timers (or ask the house sitter to rotate which lights are turned on, both inside and out, once or twice a week)
- Install a motion-activated floodlight in at least one location outside your home.
- Consider investing in a whole house generator to save headaches in the event of electric outages. If you’re out of town when the electricity goes out, food can spoil in the refrigerator, irrigation systems will stop watering the lawn, automatic timers will stop turning on and off the lights that are making your home look occupied.
- Make sure smoke detectors are working properly.
- Turn off water to the interior of the house. An undiscovered water leak can result in thousands of dollars in damage. Leave faucet taps open so when you slowly turn the water system back on, pressure won’t blow out the gaskets. At the very least, turn off the water valves to sinks, dishwasher, washing machine and toilets.