Vacation is a time to relax and unwind, but the last thing you want is to return to a home disaster.

These quick, simple tasks can help prevent coming home to a catastrophe.

Male hand shutting off the valve to the main water supply in a home before going on vacation
Turning off your home’s main water supply is a proactive step to prevent a potential plumbing disaster while you’re away on vacation. (Adobe Stock)

1. Turn Off the Main Water Supply

Turning off the main water supply to your home is a quick and easy way to prevent water damage and other plumbing disasters while you’re away.

Before you leave for vacation, locate your home’s main water supply shut-off valve. This is typically located near the water meter, and may require a wrench to turn off. Once you’ve located the valve, turn it off completely to stop water from entering your home’s plumbing system.

Closing the valve on the main supply line cuts off water to the house but still allows outside sprinklers to work.

If you do spring a leak inside, the line will be under some initial pressure, but it will not continue to spray water.

Instead of thousands of gallons of water, you might have 50 gallons from the hot-water tank leak. It takes a little bit of time, and it can save thousands of dollars in potential damage.

Turning off the main water supply will also cut off water to appliances like your washing machine and dishwasher. To prevent any damage to these appliances, run a cycle before you leave to ensure no water is left in the pipes or hoses.

In addition to turning off the main water supply, have a trusted friend, family member, or neighbor check on your home while you’re away. This can help ensure that any potential issues are caught early, preventing them from turning into larger disasters.

Residential sump pump discharging water into grass from the end of a flexible black hose
Before you go on vacation, it’s essential to check your sump pump to ensure it is working correctly and to prevent a potential home disaster. (Steven White, Getty Images)

2. Check The Sump Pump

Another type of water — rainwater — can also be a nightmare. If your sump pump fails while you’re away on vacation and a major storm comes around, you could return to a flooded basement.

To check your sump pump, start by locating the pump and its discharge pipe. If the pump is not visible, you may need to remove the cover of the sump pit to access it.

Next, fill the sump pit with water using a hose or bucket until the float switch is activated. The pump should turn on and start pumping water out of the pit. This will test the pump’s ability to remove water from your basement.

If the pump doesn’t turn on or isn’t pumping water out of the pit, there may be an issue with the pump or its components. This is a good time to call a professional plumber to inspect and repair the pump if necessary.

If it is working correctly, install a battery backup system in case of a power outage while you’re away. This will ensure the pump continues to function even if the power goes out, preventing potential flooding and water damage.

In addition to checking the sump pump, inspect the basement for any signs of water damage or moisture. Look for damp spots on walls or floors, and inspect any appliances or other items that could leak water, such as a water heater or washing machine.

American Standard smart thermostat
By keeping your A/C unit running and turning up the thermostat, you can enjoy your vacation without worrying about potential damage or discomfort when you return home. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

3. Turn Up the Thermostat — But Don’t Turn Off the A/C Unit

When leaving for vacation, it may seem logical to turn off the air conditioning unit to save energy and money. However, turning off the A/C unit completely can lead to potential issues and discomfort when you return home. Instead, it’s better to turn up the thermostat and keep the A/C unit running while you’re away.

Leaving the A/C unit running while you’re on vacation maintains a stable home temperature and prevents damage caused by extreme temperature fluctuations. High humidity levels and heat can cause mold growth, damage furniture, and even cause paint to peel or wallpaper to bubble.

If you have a programmable thermostat, set the temperature to stay at 85 degrees while you’re gone (in the summer). Then, set it to lower to 72 degrees the day before you get back. If you have a manual thermostat, it’s still worth turning it up while you’re gone to avoid wasting energy. You’ll just have to deal with a hot house when you get back.

Doing this will help you save energy and money, while still keeping your home cool enough to prevent these issues. This temperature is also high enough to keep pets and plants safe while you’re away.

In addition to turning up the thermostat, close all windows and blinds. This will help keep the heat and sunlight out of your home, reducing the load on your A/C unit.


Female hand either unplugging or plugging and electrical power cord into an electrical wall outlet
Unplugging electronics before you leave for vacation saves energy and protects your electronics from potential issues. (tab1962, Canva)

4. Unplug Electronics

Unplugging electronics in your home before going on vacation is a simple yet effective way to save energy and money, as well as protect your electronics from power surges or other potential issues.

Even when electronics are turned off, they still consume a small amount of energy, known as standby or phantom energy. Unplugging electronics like televisions, computers, and chargers before you leave for vacation can save you money on your energy bill.

This can also protect your electronics from power surges and other issues that can occur while you’re away. Power surges can damage or even destroy sensitive electronics like computers or televisions. Lightning strikes, power outages, and other factors can cause them.

To make it easier to unplug electronics, use power strips or smart plugs that can be turned off with the push of a button or through an app on your smartphone.

Lastly, unplug small appliances like toasters, coffee makers, and microwaves. These can also consume standby energy and may be at risk of electrical issues.

Hand holding a phone with smart lighting app to illustrate setting a timer before going away on vacation
(AndreyPopov, Getty Images)

5. Light Rooms With Timers

When you’re away on vacation, leaving your home dark can be a signal to potential burglars that your house is unoccupied. One way to deter burglars and give the appearance that someone is still in your home is to use timers.

Timers are a simple and inexpensive way to create the illusion of activity in your home. They can be programmed to turn lights on and off at specific times, creating the appearance that someone is moving around the house.

To use timers effectively, place them in several rooms throughout your home, and set them to turn lights on and off at different times of the day. This will create the appearance of activity in your home and deter burglars from targeting your property.

You can also control lighting from anywhere using a Wi-Fi-enabled dimmer. Set lighting schedules from your phone using an app.

Using timers can also help you save energy, as you can program them to turn lights on and off only when needed. This can help you reduce your energy consumption and lower your energy bills while you’re away.

Houseplants, including a snake plant, on a window sill
(Grumpy Cow Studios, Canva)

6. Don’t Forget Your Plants!

Houseplants bring life and freshness to your home, but they can be a concern when you’re away on vacation. Without proper care, some can wilt, dry out, and even die, leaving you with a sad and wilted collection when you return home.

Most indoor plants are pretty resilient and left unattended for a week or less. They’ll do just fine if you water them thoroughly before you leave and make sure they have adequate light.

If you plan to be away longer than a week, do this to ensure they’ll stay healthy and happy while you’re away:

  1. Water them well before you go: Make sure to give your houseplants a good watering before you leave for vacation. This will help them stay hydrated and healthy for a longer period of time.
  2. Group them together: Grouping your houseplants together can create a more humid environment, which can help them retain moisture.
  3. Cover them with plastic: Covering your houseplants with clear plastic can help to create a greenhouse effect, which can help retain moisture and create a humid environment. Be sure to remove the plastic as soon as you return home to prevent mold growth.
  4. Use a self-watering system: A self-watering system can be a great way to keep your plants hydrated while you’re away. These systems use a reservoir of water that slowly releases moisture to the plants over time.
  5. Ask a neighbor or friend for help: If you have a friend or neighbor who is willing to help, ask them to check on your plants periodically and water them if needed.

Further Reading

Editorial Contributors
Danny Lipford

Danny Lipford


Danny Lipford is a home improvement expert and television personality who started his remodeling business, Lipford Construction, at the age of 21 in Mobile, Alabama. He gained national recognition as the host of the nationally syndicated television show, Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford, which started as a small cable show in Mobile. Danny's expertise in home improvement has also led him to be a contributor to popular magazines and websites and the go-to source for advice on everything related to the home. He has made over 200 national television appearances and served as the home improvement expert for CBS's The Early Show and The Weather Channel for over a decade. Danny is also the founder of 3 Echoes Content Studio,, and Checking In With Chelsea, a décor and lifestyle blog.

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