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Old 04-24-2016, 10:49 AM   #1
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House Prep for summer RV travel

After 6 years of full timing DH & I bought a winter home. We are about to take off for the summer and are looking for tips on prepping the house to be empty for several very hot months. The house will be monitored by an alarm company and we have cameras we can view from our phones while we are away. Here's what's been recommended so far, additional suggestions from those of you who have been doing this for awhile are greatly appreciated.

Turn off water to house
Drain toilets to prevent water rings
Set thermostat to ?? We've heard 85, 87, and 90 degrees..
Set out water buckets to maintain humidity for wood cabinets and furniture in house
Turn off water heater
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Old 04-24-2016, 12:00 PM   #2
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The longest we have been away so far is just short of three months. I didn't turn the water or hot water heater off as our kids stopped by periodically to check on the house. If you have a person you trust to do that it would be a good thing to do. One thing I have done though is have both inside and outside landscaping lights/entry lights set on timers so it looks as someone is home. It is cheap and easy to do, and makes the house look all lit up at night. We keep our MH at our house so those that know us know when we are away, the lights just make it look like someone is still coming/going from the house. I do shut off all the automatic sprinklers, with our drought situation I would hate to be away and have one stick open. We can only water once a week anyway, so I try and have the kids do that manually. We set our AC at 85, but our house is insulated pretty well and I don't think it comes on much. I still worry about it but there's not much you can do other than what you have already talked about.
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Old 04-24-2016, 12:09 PM   #3
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We always shut off the water .
The water heater as well.
A few oz's of bleach in each toilet bowl and then covered it with Saran Wrap. Never had any rings.
Kept the A/C at 80. We saw need to place buckets of water.
Luckily , we have a neighbor that does a walk through once every 7-10 days.
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Old 04-24-2016, 12:15 PM   #4
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Are your houses in the desert, and is that why you leave buckets of water out. We live about 25 miles from the ocean so even if it gets hot, maybe around 100 here we still have plenty of moisture in the air. I haven't seen a reason to do that here unless I'm missing something?
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Old 04-24-2016, 12:21 PM   #5
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We also place our cable TV , home phone and Internet on vacation hold . Xfinity offers this in our area.
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Old 04-24-2016, 12:57 PM   #6
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The reason we leave the AC on (at 85) is to PREVENT a moisture build up! If it were not for that concern, I'd be hard pressed to come up with a good reason to do that.

In addition to your list, suggest you seriously consider emptying the frig, then unplug it and prop the doors open. In addition to saving needless wear and tear on it, and saving what it cost to run it, in the event of an extended power failure, you could come home to a serious mess otherwise (think spoiled ice cream/biology experiment gone bad).

You might go through your pantry as well. Look for foods that may not store well for extended periods (open boxes), or for those with "best if consumed by" dates on them that have/are getting ready to expire. Take those with you!

Our local Sheriff's Dept. has a "Neighborhood Watch" program. Due to the large snowbird population in our area, volunteer officers (mostly retirees looking for something to do) check the houses on their list every day or two the entire time we are gone. In addition to our contact/emergency info, they know who else may be checking on the place, and if they spot anyone else....

Here in Fl. we get a lot of lightning. They say the best insurance against lightning damage it is to unplug everything potentially sensitive to local lightning strikes. Like our telephones, TV's (and misc related), as well as our computer equipment. (Another reason to unplug that frig.) This step goes well beyond simply turning everything off, or even turning the circuit breakers off. Most lightning damage arrives via the ground side of the circuit, which is still intact with the breakers and appliance both turned off...

We have a pickup we leave behind, as well as a few toys we insure. A phone call to the insurance company telling them everything is going into storage for the next few months, saves us some serious money. We don't cancel the insurance completely, we maintain the comprehensive coverage only. It's cheap, and if something does happen (theft, fire, or storm for instance), it will be taken care of. Sleep well while I'm away insurance....

Congrats on the home purchase! Have a great summer.
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Old 04-24-2016, 03:37 PM   #7
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In Arizona the average temps outside exceed 100 so leaving the AC on prevents heat damage to your stuff. Also we plan to keep the house internet active so we can access the house cameras and our router, modem and DVR electronics can only handle temps so high.

I intend to take everything in the house pantry and refrigerator, I hadn't thought of actually turning off the house frig but that makes sense.

We will be leaving one vehicle in the garage but are putting special fuel in it and leaving it on a trickle charger.

Appreciate all the suggestions, you guys are very helpful!
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Old 04-24-2016, 06:53 PM   #8
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When we leave Arizona we:

- turn air to 88 deg (our house stays cool)

- turn off water

- we have heard from many that it's harder on your refrigerator to turn it off and on so we leave it on. However, it needs something in it to run efficiently so we put in a couple cartons of pop. In the freezer we freeze a small bottle of water which is 1/2 full and lay it on it's side to freeze. When frozen we stand it upright. When we return if that water is level we know the refrigerator was off because of a power failure. Sometimes we can't use up all the meat inside so we just leave it. If we know the power was off we toss the meat when we return.

- We turn off the icemaker

Our local Sheriff Auxiliary has a program for those that leave. They'll drive the neighborhood at different hours and will check door and windows for securement.

We have a woman come in 2x/month for $25. She turns on the water and runs a cycle in the dishwasher (we know of folks who had problems because seals dried out), runs water in the sinks and tub/shower and does a once-over through the house.

- We put a small amt. of bleach in the toilet and the tank and cover with saran. Put a dab of Vasoline on the rim to hold the saran tight. It doesn't evaporate and the bowl doesn't have rings when we return. (This is a desert thing).

- We don't leave buckets of water as it would do very little in the large space of a house. However, those that store their RV do leave buckets of water just to give a little moisture. Florida people wouldn't understand.

- do a hold on trash, newspaper, sewer (an area thing)
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Old 04-24-2016, 07:17 PM   #9
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Would not drain the toilets. The water seals out the smell... Water, bleach, and wrap sounds good.

Leave the AC on. We put it on 85 degrees.

Refrigerator on, but remove anything that would make a mess without power.

If you don't have a friend or family to check the house once a week or so, you might contact a pet sitter to do this for you. Our pet sitter does house checks.

Cameras are a very good thing. Motion sensing and remotely viewable that send you a message. We have Samsung SmartCam.

Water off (problem is landscaping, we installed desert scape needing minimal water). We have a valve that makes it easy for house check person to turn on if needed.

Reducing insurance on vehicles left behind is a good idea. Here in CA one has to notify DMV of non operational status, otherwise they get notice of insurance status change and ping you as insurance is required...

Forward, hold mail, or have a service handle. There are threads here regarding options to do so.
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Old 04-24-2016, 09:32 PM   #10
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As others have said. Don't drain the toilets if they are drained you can get sewer gases in the house. Not very pleasant. When I'm gone in the summer I have someone check my house every few days and I always ask that they please run all faucets and flush all toilets to make sure there's water in the traps. I turn the water heater off and close the supply line to it, as well as the washing machines and dishwasher. I leave the A/C at 85. As I live 6 blocks from the ocean, and moisture is something I want taken out of the air.
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Old 04-25-2016, 08:08 PM   #11
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We shut off water and water heater. We only drain pipes if traveling in the winter. We put three lights on timers. Also put away any outside equipment, lawn and BBQ. Not mentioned above is we'll put a decon container or two if there has been any indication of mice. We don't have mail or newspaper delivery so don't need to cancel those. Neighbors keep a pretty good eye on the place - and we have inside cameras that call our cell phone if motion is noticed and we can view parts of the inside of the house from the cell phone or laptop. The Nest camera system we have allows us to say something to anyone inside the house - which would probably be a (lie) warning that I am two minutes away with a shotgun.

On edit: My spouse does unplug some of the electrical appliances, TV, etc.
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