Homeowner Checklists and Best Practices
The checklists below were created to help homeowners keep their homes safe and in good condition while they are away.
Professional criminals know the signs to look for that indicate that your home is unoccupied. Although gated communities and alarm systems do help deter break ins; homes, vehicles and watercrafts are still vulnerable when it is clear that no one is present at a residence. These tips can help you keep your house safe while you are away.
- Do have your mail brought in – nothing says “we’re not home” like a pile of newspapers on your doorstep. Don’t tip off potential burglars that no one is home.
- Don’t announce your departure on social media sites– there is no way to ensure that only your friends and family are reading your commentary on social networking sites; revealing that your house is unoccupied puts you in a vulnerable state.
- Do use outdoor security lighting– motion sensor lighting illuminates potential points of entry, deterring break-ins.
- Do employ an alarm system– and advertise it through signage. An effective security system should have a reliable chain of communication which includes a local point of contact and the police department.
- Don’t close curtains that aren’t usually closed – if you usually keep your living room curtains open, don’t close them while you are gone. Professional criminals get to know your routine before breaking in, they know what signs to look for.
- Do keep your driveway shoveled in the winter – when snow accumulates and there is not so much as tire tracks or a path to the door, it is evident that nobody is home.
- Do put your lights on timers – keeping lights on for the duration of your stay is suspicous. Putting lights on timers gives the appearance that someone is turning lights on and off at the appropriate times, giving the facade that someone is home.
- Don’t store valuables within sight– jewelry, cash and other valuables should not serve as added incentive from windows. Keeping these items out of plain view makes your home a less attractive target.
- Don’t leave a spare key – it may seem like a covert hiding spot to you but seasoned criminals know all of the places to look for your spare key.
- Do install Closed Circuit Television cameras (or dummy versions)– if CCTV cameras are not within your budget, mock cameras can be a powerful preventive measure to keep your home safe.
Guardian Property Services, Inc. can help you implement solutions that will help keep your home protected from break-ins. Contact us today to find out more about our security solutions.
Although it seems a waste to pay a hefty heating bill while your home is unoccupied, it remains critical to maintain moderate temperatures in order to prevent pipes from freezing and damage to susceptible elements of your home. Setting thermostats between 12-16° (55-60 F) is generally acceptable as this range will not only ensure that pipes do not freeze but will protect valuable furniture and hardwood floors from damage sustained from fluctuations in temperature.
Fortunately, there are simple steps that can be taken to maximize your heat and reduce costs during colder weather. Before you depart for the winter, take these measures and you will see a discernable difference in your heating bill.
- Caulk those cracks– feeling a draft is the easiest way to detect an air leak through a crack but holding a candle next to areas that have a potential crack (usually where different types of building materials meet) will reveal an air leak through a flickering flame. Sealing cracks with a flexible, durable caulk can be a considerable help in sustaining temperatures.
- Weather strip doors and windows – if your windows and doors are not forming a tight seal when closed you are letting dollars slip through the cracks with every passing day. Select a weather stripping that will withstand the elements and repeated opening and closing if it is a frequently used location.
- Use plastic sheeting to insulate– if there are doors or windows that do not need to be opened for extended periods of time, plastic sheeting can be an effective way to insulate from the cold.
- Change your furnace filter – not only is it critical to change your furnace filter regularly in order to prevent your furnace from overheating, but a lesser consequence is higher utility bills from unnecessary stress to your system. Filters should be inspected on a monthly basis and changed approximately every 1-3 months.
- Maintenance your thermostat– a thermostat that is not accurately calibrated can result in significantly higher heating bills. Dirt and dust can affect the thermostat’s performance, making it best practice to check its accuracy before the heating season begins.
- Cover your attic entry – although it is ideal to air seal and insulate your attic entry, even simply covering it with plastic and/or pieces of insulation will help prevent some of the warm air loss into this space that is notorious for sucking up heat.
Guardian Property Services, Inc. can help you save money on your heating bills this winter. Call to find out more about how implementing these measures will keep your heating costs down.
As the warm weather creeps in and all signs of snow disappear, mother nature sends her cue that it is time to begin preparing your yard to optimize growth that will occur in the coming months. A spring cleanup can be a daunting task but including the following elements in your spring cleanup will help ensure that your yard is poised to flourish this season.
- Remove any branches, leaves, stones and other debris from your lawn before beginning any fertilization or seeding so it can grow without hindrance
- Trim back bushes and shrubs (non-flowering) to rid them of dead branches so that new growth can occur
- Identify any broken branches on bushes and create a clean cut where the branches have broken to promote growth
- Remove dead leaves and stalks from perennials and prune them down
- Loosen soil around plants and pull any weeds that may have sprouted
- Cut down ornamental grasses to a few inches from the ground so that chutes can grow
- Apply a non-toxic deer repellent– this is the time of year that deer are the hungriest; protect your plants from wildlife with an application of deer spray
Home Watch FAQ’s
One of the most important reasons you should have your home checked while you are away – whether it is for a week or a season – is to satisfy your insurance requirements. From leaky roofs to burst pipes to gas leaks, the list of “what could go wrong” while you are absent is endless. Regular house checks mitigate damage in the event of a problem and often identify potential issues before they escalate. Another important reason you should have your home checked regularly is for security reasons. Regular activity at a house helps deter break-ins by establishing a presence and creating the facade that the home is occupied.
Some people do opt to have a neighbour or friend act as a house sitter or check in on the home from time to time. However, when problems do arise these good samaritans are often not prepared to handle the consequences. They may not be observing your home with the keen eye that is necessary to identify potential problems before they turn into costly disasters. They may forget or be too busy to check in on the home with the required frequency set forth by your insurance company. Guardian Property Services documents each visit and compiles reports that can be turned over to your insurance company in the event of a claim. They also have the resources to fix whatever issue may arise so that you do not have to try to manage the issue remotely.
Insurance requirements vary from company to company – some require every three days year-round, some only demand this frequency during the heating season. Others are less stringent. Regardless of the insurance requirements, the more frequently Guardian is visiting your home, the more protected you are from break-ins and the less time a problem has to manifest. Peace of mind is priceless when you are away from your property.
House checks are completely customizable to the client’s needs but a standard house check includes monitoring temperatures and critical systems, flushing toilets and running taps to avoid sewer gas buildup, checking all points of entry to ensure they are secure, looking for signs of mold or mildew or bug infestations and checking the exterior of the home and the yard to ensure nothing is askew and brining in mail/fliers. Other common requests include watering plants, running/driving vehicles and hot tub or pool maintenance.
If Guardian Property Services encounters a problem that will require an insurance claim they will contact the insurance company and provide them with the proper information. The homeowner is always immediately notified and consulted as to how an issue should be managed. If the homeowner is not available Guardian will take the appropriate steps to rectify the problem before it has serious consequences (e.g. furnace repairs before putting the home at risk for frozen pipes). Guardian has a vast network of resources for resolving home issues and can put your mind at ease that the problem will be cared for in your absence.
Flexible and eager to accomodate, Guardian Property Services provides a wide spectrum of services that make their customers’ lives easier. Some of our most popular services are yard maintenance, snow removal, cleaning services, concierge services, merchandise/package pick-up and airport transportation. If you can think of something that will save you time and hassle, chances are Guardian can do it.