By Kevin Raposo, SimpliSafe Home Security
We’re partway through summer already! You know what summer means: warm weather, time with the family and, if you’re lucky enough to have one, a trip to your summer home. It was a long winter, and you probably have not been able to get back there since last summer. You can’t wait to play horseshoes with your kids, fire up the grill and get some time away from the office. Your summer home is your oasis! Since you’ve been away, it’s important to make sure that your summer home has remained undisturbed. A homeowner’s greatest fear is to return to broken pipes, an infestation or worse — a break-in. By taking these few steps as soon as you return to your summer home, you can quickly put your mind at ease and get on with your vacation!
1. Is Anything Unlocked?
Your first act, before doing anything, should be to try opening every entry point that can be opened, meaning doors and windows. Get in there before children or guests so you can be sure that everything’s remained shut until you, yourself, opened them. It’s better to have one person doing this task rather than to rely on your niece’s memory of which doors she’s opened. Was a screen window torn? Was anything unlocked? If so, even if there was no other sign of burglary, you should probably get your locks changed. Was anything forced open, or hanging open? Get back out of the house (What if someone’s still there?) and phone the police. That’s what they’re there for.
2. Is Everything There?
Most people don’t keep valuable items in a vacation home (after all, you may need them and you’re smarter than that). But sometimes you may leave things such as papers relating to the home (with all your information on them), a pill bottle or vehicles you only use at the vacation home (bikes, golf carts, etc.).
Be aware of the burglar search pattern: They start in the master bedroom, looking for jewelry and documents with your personal information on them. So you should start there too— is the firebox still locked and still there? Next, on to the bathroom, where a thief will look for prescription drugs. If you left anything in the medicine cabinet, is everything as it should be? Then check out your kitchen and living room to confirm that electronics and vehicle keys are all there — if you keep any spare keys, make sure nothing’s been moved or is missing.
Finally, check your garage or shed: If a burglar took your keys, you can bet that vehicle is gone. While you’re doing your sweep, make sure furniture is where you left it. Burglars rearrange things while looking for a safe or other valuables. If things are moved or if an item is missing, don’t assume someone borrowed it or moved it. File a police report. It’s better to sound a false alarm and wipe the egg off your face later than file no report and wish you had.
3. Have Any Non-Human Pests Been Here?
Before you go about unpacking all of your barbecue ingredients, be sure you’ll be the only one eating your food! While you’re at it, make sure no one’s eating your house. Know what pests are popular in your area by contacting a pest control professional and asking. Check your cabinets, closets and baseboards for signs of inhabitation (sawdust, mouse droppings). Take a peek in your attic and basement, too, as creepy-crawlies like accessible dark corners, and these spots provide just that. Check your mattresses for white spots (bed bug larvae) or little black dots moving and shaking — pull back the seams to check, as this is a common hiding spot. Even if you haven’t been back here recently, bedbugs can survive a long time without a person to munch on.
And lastly (and especially important if you have children or pets) check sheds, garages and the exterior of your house for signs of biting or stinging insects (Can you see any nests? Are there any high concentrations of wasps, fire ants or carpenter bees?) or even menacing wildlife (Are there signs that something’s been killed by coyotes in your backyard?). If you find anything, use the Orkin Pest Library or the Pest World Pest Guide to identify it and call your local pest control professional to describe your situation. If you have menacing wildlife, look up your local animal control number. But remember: Wildlife is part of the appeal of your house! Don’t just go killing things willy nilly; only call animal control if it’s posing a threat. In most cases, all you need to know is how to avoid the wildlife — avoid it and it will avoid you.
Regardless of what you find, it’s a good idea to call in a pest control professional when you’re opening your house for the season. Professionals will spot things that you may not, and getting your house treated is a good way to prevent future problems. Never having an infestation is better than finding one and taking care of it quickly, after all.
4. What About Mold?
Ugh, mold: pervasive and hard to get rid of. If you smell mold in your house, contact a removal professional right away. Try turning on your temperature control system — if the smell gets worse, your heating or cooling vents are where that mold lives and you’ve just narrowed it down. Also, check areas of your house that have historically had moisture or flooding problems — basements, attics and bathrooms are usually good candidates for this. If you notice any signs of water damage, call a mold removal professional. It could be hiding under flooded carpets and floorboards, or behind the walls. Deal with it right away, because mold can cause asthma, itchy skin and sore throats. Those are definitely symptoms you don’t want wrecking your vacation, and mold only gets worse.
5. Any Maintenance Issues?
The best way to discover maintenance issues is through testing. Turn on faucets, flush toilets, walk around decks and porches and try your oven (If you smell gas, don’t try your oven. Leave and phone the appropriate emergency number instead). Creaks, smells and blockages should all be dealt with by a professional. And do it as soon as possible to prevent it from getting worse. But even more importantly, the sooner you deal with it the less it’s going to interfere with the rest of your summer. Relaxing is easier with no projects hanging over your head.
Once you make sure your home has not been invaded, by humans or other creatures, and everything is functioning properly, you can finally relax. Now, your attention can go to more important matters: barbecuing, summer reading and the first beach trip of the year. Job well done!
About Kevin Raposo and SimpliSafe Home Security
This guest post was written by Kevin Raposo, a blogger for SimpliSafe. He can’t wait to have a dog and dress it up in a tiny bowtie. You can always find him ranting about something on his Twitter. SimpliSafe Home Security is making its way to the top of its industry.
Note: This is a guest post; the views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Redfin.