Prep Your House for Vacation

Is your home vacation ready? HGTV Magazine tells you how to get things settled before leaving for your summer trip.

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Stop all deliveries and pickups
Have your mail held while you're away. You can sign up online at holdmail.usps.com/holdmail. Don't forget to cancel garbage pickup and newspaper deliveries, too.

Power down small appliances
"A power surge can damage these items or even cause a fire," says Jim Towns. Unplug any small appliances and electronics that aren't plugged into a surge protector-such as the toaster and coffeemaker-and turn all your surge protector switches to off.

Cut the water supply in flood-prone spots
If a hose to your dishwasher or washing machine happens to crack or come loose while you're away, you could come back to a flood, so turn off the water supply to those two appliances. For the dishwasher, the lever handle is usually located under the sink. For the washing machine, look for a valve switch behind the machine.

Trim tree limbs
"Prune branches that extend over your house, particularly any that are dying or dead-the ones that are bare when they should have leaves," says Mike Holmes, host of Holmes on Homes. "Doing so will prevent a lot of expensive damage if there's a storm while you're on vacation."

Don't turn off the AC
It may sound like a waste of money and energy, but a warm temperature indoors can cause mold and mildew to grow in just a few days. "Set the air conditioner to 82 degrees Fahrenheit and your house will stay cool enough to prevent both," says Craig Muccio, energy expert at Florida Power & Light Company.

Run the dishwasher
After the cycle has finished, empty the dishwasher, then leave the dishwasher door open. That will allow the interior to dry, and it won't smell musty by the time you get home.

Light your home like you're there
"The kitchen is usually in the back of the house-a favorite spot for break-ins-and it often has no plug-in lights," says Lou Manfredini, Ace's home expert. Move a lamp into the kitchen and plug it into a timer that you can set on random. "You also want to illuminate all the main outdoor entrances," says Mike Holmes. "So buy an outdoor timer, too, and set it so the lights go on at dusk and off at dawn."

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