Unoccupied Homes: Why Cameras and Sensors are Great, but In-Person Checks Are Still Needed

security camera and leak sensors in home

It’s common for Minnesota’s retirees to snowbird in the winters. While they enjoy the warmth of the south, their homes in the north remain unoccupied, raising concerns about how best to care for their primary residences in their absence. Many of these long-term travelers wonder if cameras and sensors are sufficient, considering they may be gone for months at a time. A primary home is usually one of their biggest assets, and they want it to remain safe and undamaged.

When leaving your home for an extended period, smart home technologies like cameras and sensors are invaluable for monitoring and securing your property. However, while these tools provide essential security features, they aren’t a complete solution. Here’s why cameras and sensors alone may fall short and how on-site home check services fill in the gaps.

Examples of Why Sensors Aren’t Enough

Some Things Can’t Be Seen

  • Leaking Roof: A small roof leak after a storm can go unnoticed by cameras and cause major damage over time. An on-site home check is more likely to discover this during their routine checks.
  • Pest Infestations: Rodents or insects can invade your home without setting off alarms. Regular visits from professional home sitters aka home watchers, can spot and deal with these issues early.
  • Ice Dams: These can form on your roof and cause water damage inside your home. These are hard to spot by camera. 

Cameras Can’t Smell

  • Moldy Smell: A musty odor can indicate a leak or a malfunctioning appliance, such as a broken fridge.
  • Gas Leaks: Dangerous gas leaks can’t be detected by cameras but are often apparent to someone physically present in the home.

Sensors Can’t Make It Seem Like You’re Home

  • Visible Signs of Absence: Squatters and burglars look for signs of an unoccupied property. Cameras can’t remove the buildup of flyers on your front door or ensure snow removal. Regular footsteps and other signs of activity can deter potential intruders.

Automation Can’t Offer a Helping Hand

  • Local Response: If you notice something off on your camera, what’s next? A trusted local person can check it out and address the issue.
  • Routine Maintenance: Cameras can’t flush toilets to prevent sewer gas from entering your home or handle other small but crucial maintenance tasks.
  • Connectivity Issues: If your internet drops, your cameras and sensors won’t send alerts, causing a gap in coverage and a lot of unknowns. 
  • Insurance Requirements: Some insurance policies require regular checks on unoccupied homes. A home watch service can help you meet these requirements.

How Home Watch Services Help

Regular Inspections:

  • Thorough Checks: Home Watch professionals thoroughly inspect your property, covering areas beyond the reach of cameras.
  • Detailed Reports: They provide detailed reports and photos, so you’re always informed about the state of your home.

Proactive Problem Solving:

  • Immediate Action: If there’s a problem, a home watch provider can address it right away, from contacting repair services to securing your property.
  • Preventative Measures: A home technician can adjust thermostats, water plants, and check all systems for functioning to help prevent issues.

Customized Services:

  • Tailored Inspections: Services can be customized to meet your specific needs, so your home is taken care of the way you’d want it to be. 
  • Customized Help: Need someone to service your car, forward packages, restock your fridge, or let in other vendors? On-site home check services can provide these personalized services.

Enhanced Security:

  • Human Presence: Regular visits by Home Watch personnel can deter potential intruders more effectively than cameras alone.
  • Coordination with Authorities: In case of suspicious activity, Home Watch services can quickly get in touch with local law enforcement.


While smart home automation, including cameras and sensors, is helpful, it isn’t sufficient for long-term absences. Professional home watch services provide the human touch and proactive care that technology alone cannot match.  Combining advanced technology with in-person care may be a traveler’s solution for peace of mind.

Please contact Northern Nest Services if you have a home in the Minneapolis / St. Paul / Twin Cities area and are planning an extended trip away.