The Hazards of Unattended Home Devices
To a home dweller there is a bit more to going on vacation than making plane reservations and packing. Besides stopping the mail and the newspaper, putting your lights and a radio on timers, notifying the police department and the alarm company — and double latching all doors and windows, there are several other important considerations that have to be made.
A home is jam packed with mechanical systems that can be easily damaged if left operating unattended — even if only for a few days. Think about it! There is the plumbing system (water under pressure), the cooling system (costs a fortune to operate), a gas and or an electrical system (fire hazards both), several automatic appliances (refrigerator, freezer, home electronics systems, garage door opener, etc.). And there are a few non-automatic, non-mechanical items that will also need to be attended to such as house plants and pet doors.
You never know when a washing machine hose is going to burst and flood the laundry and possibly the rest of the house. If caught in time the harm could be minimal. However, if you are on vacation during the occurrence the damage could be serious.
So, since this is the vacation time of the year, we thought it would be appropriate to provide you with an overview that might help to make your return home the least eventful ever.
Devices that use water automatically can go haywire in your absence and wreak havoc in your home. This includes such devices as a hot water dispenser, automatic ice maker, swamp cooler, water heater — yes, and even the toilet. The hot water dispenser should be unplugged — that’s a must. And the water heater should also be turned off. Although the water supply to the other items can be turned off at each unit individually, we feel it is most wise to turn the water off at the main inlet to the home. This is the safest way as long as the heaters have been turned off at all water heating devices.
When possible well systems should also be shut down. And where there is a choice between city irrigation water and pumped irrigation water for lawns and gardens city water should be used.
Devices that automatically use electricity also can pose a threat. One of the biggest users of electricity in your home is your refrigerator. No other appliance guzzles as much power. The temperature that your refrigerator is set to is based on your pattern of use — the frequency with which you open and close the door. If you didn’t open the door as often you could lower the thermostat setting and everything would remain as cool as it ever did. Not opening the door at all for days on end could in many cases cause freezing to occur. Ever eaten previously frozen mayonnaise? The same principal applies to freezers as well.
TV’s, stereo systems, home theaters and other remote controlled electronics all consume power even when they aren’t being used. Although the savings would be slight, unplugging electronics that will not be used for several weeks can save you money. And, unplugging your garage door opener may not save you money, but it will certainly prevent it from being accidentally opened in your absence.
Devices that use natural gas or propane also can become a danger when left unattended. Gas ranges, ovens and water heaters can all be shut down by simply turning the gas off at the meter or supply tank. One minute to turn off the gas and five-minutes to re-light one or two gas appliances is all it takes. A small price to pay for a wide margin of safety.
House plants should be brought to a central location for watering if the task is going to be performed by a friend or a relative. No matter how easy you think it is to see all of your plants in their normal locations there is no question that they will all get watered if they are together in a single group.
And last but not least don’t forget to close all pet doors. Nothing is more revolting than returning to a house that smells like a sewage plant.
For more home improvement tips and information search our website or call our listener line any time at 1-800-737-2474! All you need to do is leave your name, telephone number and your question.