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AAA reports that for the first time, over 100 million people traveled during the holiday season in 2015. If you’re one of the millions who will head out of town this year, there are a few things you should do to prepare your home before you hit the road.

Home for the Holidays

Interior To-Do List

The last thing you want to face when you come home from a relaxing trip is water damage in your home. One way to prevent pipes from freezing is to open your vanity cabinets. This allows the heat from your home to reach the pipes more easily and reduces the chance of freezing. Don’t forget your kitchen sink cabinet too. If you’re going to be gone a long time and live in a very cold area, consider turning your water off and draining your pipes.

There are two ways to save money while you’re gone. First, turn your water heater to vacation mode. Set an alarm on your phone or write a reminder to turn it back on when you get home so you can enjoy a hot shower in the morning! Second, lower your thermostat. The temperature you lower it to will vary, depending whether you have a smart thermostat you can control remotely. Never set it below 50 degrees in the winter as you don’t want to risk frozen pipes.

Make sure you’ve disposed of or refrigerate any perishables. While you’re making the last run through the house, empty your trash and recycle bins. Turn on a few lights throughout the home or add timers to deter burglars.

Exterior To-Do List

One big clue to burglars that no one is home is mail and newspapers building up on a porch. Starting a mail hold is as easy as going to and scheduling the hold during your vacation. They will even deliver all of it on the day you request after you’re back home. Newspapers often have a website or phone number you can call to ask for a hold. Just decide in advance if you want the paper held and delivered upon your return, or if you want to extend your subscription.

If you will be gone on garbage day or must leave your trash can out, ask a neighbor to put your trash bin back in your garage. Not only is leaving a trash can on the street for an extended time a sign no one is home, but in many HOA neighborhoods, it’s a violation of terms. Let a neighbor or trusted friend know how long you’ll be gone and ask them to keep an eye on your house.

Contact Gutter Helmet for a Free Quote

For homeowners in areas where a lot of precipitation falls in winter, make sure your gutters and downspouts are clear. When water can flow through your gutters and away from your foundation, you’re less likely to come home to water in your basement. If you know your gutters need attention, contact local gutter contractors for an estimate for gutter cleaning and gutter covers. One great solution for homes in snowy areas is heated gutters. Helmet Heat® is Gutter Helmet’s solution to reduce ice dams which can cause significant damage to your home. Ask the gutter contractors if they can install Helmet Heat®, or call (800) 824-3772 to schedule a free estimate with your nearest dealer.