Top 10 Disasters that Can Hit Your House While You're on Vacation

Photo: Roy Ritchie/Getty Images
For most, a spring break is supposed to be a time for fun and relaxation. But if your heart is on vacation while your head is worrying about home, you won't get much out of your time off. Don't forget that spring also brings the risk of heavy rainfall or surprise heat waves. That's why we've brought you this handy guide of the top 10 bad things that can befall your house when you leave it alone. Don't fret-we also share with you expert advice on how to avoid these pitfalls. That way, you can take off worry-free, and know that there will still be a house standing when you pull back into the drive. -JEANNE BARON


Thieves Take All Your Stuff
Photo: Greenshoots Communications/AlamyPhoto: Greenshoots Communications/Alamy
Unmowed grass, piles of newspapers, and revealing posts on Facebook might as well be an open invitation to burglars, says Ralph Sevinor, President of Wayne Alarm Systems in Lynn, Massachusetts. Sevinor suggests putting a hold on the mail, asking a neighbor to park in the drive, testing your alarm system, and keeping your travel plans off the Internet. "Even if it's your kid on Facebook telling her 2,300 friends about the family trip to Hawaii, you have to watch out. That message can get picked up by criminals who troll the Internet constantly," says Sevinor.

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Also See: 14 Ways to Prevent Holiday Season Break-Ins



Your Lawn Dies
Photo: Courtesy Missouri Botanical Garden PlantFinderPhoto: Courtesy Missouri Botanical Garden PlantFinder
Extreme weather can kill your lawn, or leave it vulnerable to insects and blight, if you aren't there to catch warning signs. Billie Lee, a Walker County master gardener in Huntsville, Texas, says that drought conditions can fry the grass, while excessive rain encourages disease. "My neighbors lost their lawn to a fungus called Take-all patch. They came home from a vacation and had to uproot the whole yard and start over." TOH landscape contractor Roger Cook recommends asking a neighbor to watch out for wilt or brown spots in the lawn and leaving behind the number for your lawn service. "All you can do is depend on your good neighbor, and promise to do the same for him when he goes away," says Roger. "It's a fair trade."

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Also See: How to Revitalize a Lawn



The House Slides Away
Photo: iStock/Jacek_SopotnickiPhoto: iStock/Jacek_Sopotnicki
Intense spring rainfall spells big trouble if your foundation is not up to snuff. Architect Leigh Jerrard knows of a house that slid right into the street after a blocked street gutter redirected a few days of heavy rain onto the property. "If that house had a good foundation it would have survived." says Jerrard. If you know you have foundation issues, says Tom Silva, you have to be especially careful to keep water away. Grade away from the house, and keep gutters clean to keep them from overflowing and pooling water at the foundation. If necessary, put in a French drain to direct the water to a storm drain. And install a sump pump if your basement fills often.

See More Potential Disasters at ThisOldHouse.com

Also See: How to Waterproof a Basement



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