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Old 02-24-2017, 03:53 PM   #1
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Question for you sometimers

What do you do to prep your house if you are going to be gone for 6-8 weeks or even longer?
We have not retired but when we do, we still will not sell everything and go full time. We do want to be sometimers, however. We have no desire to sell our stick and brick and we both agree we need a home base.
When the time comes, hopefully sooner rather than later, what do we do with the house?
I know the obvious things, mail stopped, lights on timers etc.
What about water? Do you cut it off to the house?
Do you have people come check on things?
Last year on our 2 week trip to Texas and back, we had a water line burst in the basement. Luckily our son lives above our garage, so he caught it and had a plumber out here to fix it.
I worry about turning the water off and all being gone an extended time and the p traps and toilets dry up so sewer gases start to flood the house.
Do you empty your freezers and fridge in case you lose power for an extended period of time?

There are probably many more questions but you get the idea. So, how do you prepare your house to be gone for an extended time?
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Old 02-24-2017, 04:12 PM   #2
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Need answers to this too.
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Old 02-24-2017, 04:15 PM   #3
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We just retired last year: for our Alaska trip last summer:

~ turn main water valve off

~ brother cuts grass every 2 weeks ($20)

~ parents check on house once a week

~ cousin and a niece use house half the summer ( I trust both)

~ Told a few ( select ) neighbors I was leaving from this date to this date and here are my cell numbers and here is my parents number

~ Our city has a vacation program. I had to let them know what cars would be in the driveway when my cousin and or niece stay at the home.

~ stopped paper

~ Mail was forwarded to my parents

~ in my front flower planter boxes I put plastic flowers

~ when people were not at home I set up one light timer

~ put signs on main water valve and hot water heater so cousin and niece knew what to turn off once they left.

`~ No parties !!!

~ made sure my beds were well mulched to prevent weeds from popping up.

~ Frig was emptied except for some jugs of water to help keep it cooler longer between cycles, freezer had a few things. Left power on for frig

~ Suspended satellite service for the summer
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Old 02-24-2017, 04:17 PM   #4
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We are in the same boat as you. So far we have taken three extended trips in the MH being on the road for 4-6 weeks at a time. Like you said we stop the mail, and all our lights, interior and exterior, are on timers. We don't shut off the water though. I turn off the valves to the washer, and anything interior that has shut off valves. We empty the fridge of anything that can spoil, left over food, dairy products, fruits/vegetables ect. We also have an alarm system that is monitored for both fire and burglary, and have it registered with the PD/fire Dept. A new thing we have is pretty neat is called the "Ring". You can get it at Costco for $185. It is basically a doorbell with a video recorder and you can speak though it from your cell phone. If somebody walks up to your front door, or rings the doorbell, it activates and records what they do, and sends a message to your cellphone. You can ask them what they want and carry on a conversation through your cell phone and it appears as if you are home. It gives a really good picture and you can save it all in your phone and text it to your personal computer.

We don't empty the freezers, as where we live in over 50+ years that I can remember, we have never had a power outage that lasted more than 8 hours and even that is rare. The freezer should stay frozen for a few days in a power failure. We have our kids who live about 5 minutes from us come and check on the house on a regular basis, make sure everything is ok, and no vendors have left advertisements hanging on the door. They have to drive by it to get to/from work anyway.

If our kids lived above our house like your son does, I wouldn't have a worry in the world as he is right there. Some say shut your water off ect, but the bottom line is you could have a pipe burst at any time, and if you were out for the day it would still cause a significant amount of damage.
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Old 02-24-2017, 04:38 PM   #5
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We've got a 25 year old still living there. We rented a room to one of his buddies. Both are working ... and appear to appreciate the situation. They pay a significant chunk of the utilities ... and keep up with maintenance, etc.

We have our elderly neighbor across the street keep an eye on the boys ... with strict instructions to call us immediately if she spots anything that looks like a party going on.

We did a 3 month trip to AZ in the fall .. and are 2 months into a 4 month trip to FL this winter. So far the kids seem to be keeping things to a dull roar.
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Old 02-24-2017, 04:38 PM   #6
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We've been doing 4-7 months a year away from home for 20 years now, so I guess we have it down to a science.

We live in Florida, so the a/c stays on (89 degrees). Enough to keep the mold down and avoid heat damage to our goods. We tried to do without that moderate xpense for a couple years, but it wasn't worth it. In other climates, it might be heat, or maybe just some fans.

We turn the water off, cause a broken water line is a disaster if nobody is around to notice. Been there, done that too.

We leave water in the toilet tanks and bowl, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap to retain water. This prevents damage to the tank flapper valve and seals, and keep water enough to prevent sewer gas from entering the house via waste lines.

Our power stays on, but we disconnect a lot of electronics that are going to be dormant anyway. Home computers, tvs, dvds, etc. Cable tv and internet suspended, mail forwarded or held, etc.

Fridge stays on, an a minimal setting, with jugs of water inside to help stabilize temperature. We used to shut down and clean out the fridges, but a brand new fridge failed from corrosion when doing that (it was repaired under warranty). Appliance techs advised to never shut the fridge off once it is turned on, so that's what we do now. It actually is easier, since we can leave spices and such in the fridge to preserve them, and no last minute cleaning needed.

Patio furnishings, outdoor grills, etc all get stowed away. Lawn care arranged. The car that stays home is locked up and in the carport, or goes to a friend/relatives house (both work ok).

Two neighbors have our phone number, and also my daughters. And the lawn guy knows how to reach us too. I leave a business card taped to the window in the door so police or fire can get in touch if needed. It doesn't say we are away or anything - just a name & phone contact.

And make sure the home owner insurance is paid up!
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Old 02-24-2017, 06:34 PM   #7
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Thanks guys. Some really good advice. Our son is saving like a mad man to buy his own house, hopefully this winter or next spring. Our house will be empty at that time. We live a half mile off the main road. We've never had a problem with sales people randomly knocking on our door. We do share a driveway with 2 other neighbors and they have our phone numbers.
Anyway, thanks. I look forward to other opinions as well.
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Old 02-25-2017, 08:11 AM   #8
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One thing we do is to pour mineral oil in all the drains to stop evaporation. This really works for us. Just be sure to warn anyone coming in to check on things to avoid flushing or putting anything else into the drains.

This has worked for us for the past four years when we leave for 6-7 months.

HTH,

Tom
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Old 02-25-2017, 08:44 AM   #9
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We're snowbirds with 2 homes - and a motor home, so we always have something that's mothballed.

Turning the water off and the water heater to pilot or off (gas vs. elec.) just makes all kind of sense to me. If the power goes, so does the heat, and if it's winter in Mi, you could be in serious trouble. The insurance company will fix the frozen pipes, but will NOT pay for damage resulting from broken lines....

We stop or forward mail, depending. When forwarding for the season (6 months), we change as many addresses as practical to try and keep the burden on the Post Office to a minimum.

We set the AC to 85 when leaving the Fl house - and seal the toilets to prevent water loss. Mi home is set to maintain 45 degrees. Neither are very expensive to maintain at those settings.

Neighbor across the street keeps the Mi driveway plowed so the place looks lived in, in return for giving him a hand with his lawn in the summer. Fl. house lawn maintained by a fellow that lives a block away on an "as needed" basis. Nothing regular as I hate paying a lawn crew to show up needlessly. Both keep an eye on the places, as well as friends doing an occasional drive by.

Dish has an awesome program for satellite. 5.00 a month when you aren't there. Instant on/off via phone call.

All electronics are unplugged. Florida place is located in an area known as a lightening capital. Nothing will protect those electronics better than air between the plug and the recep....

We leave fridges on, but with little in them. Nothing has ever happened, but I really don't care for the idea of cleaning up after a disaster.

We do the lights/timers thing as well, but only on a limited basis. I also maintain several exterior lights at both places with motion sensors. Handy to have them come on in your presence when you're there, a comfort knowing they'll come on when you aren't.
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Old 02-26-2017, 07:27 AM   #10
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The way to keep the traps on your sinks, tub, toilet, floor drains, etc. from drying up is to put cooking oil in each. 1/4 cup for most drains will be plenty. The oil won't let the water evaporate.
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Old 02-26-2017, 08:47 AM   #11
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A few times I've question my sanity on what we've done...!

We helped out my MIL by having her move in!!!!! We had the old downstairs Master Bedroom (During a remodel we built a second floor Master Bedroom and Bath for us...) cleaned out and she downsized her furniture to what she wanted in that room. Then, supposedly by a simple miss communication, she had my BIL and his son empty an adjacent downstairs bedroom. Had them move her living room couch, and easy chair, and one of the two TV's she had into that room. She calls it her 'Sitting Area' - I call it robbery of my guest bedroom! (I was still working then, and all of this was done while I was at work. With my wonderful wife assisting. Apparently my 'miss communication' was that her new 'sitting area' would be that bedroom. I had 'assumed' it was the same sitting area we had in the downstairs Master Bedroom - more then ample room, as it was 20' x 28' with an additional walk in closet... Plenty of room for her 'sitting area'!)

We still joke about this, with me sometimes pre tending to be on the phone with Amvets to schedule a furniture pick up....

All kidding aside. It has really worked out well. We travel 6-7 months out of the year, go back to what is now our vacation home. Oddly, after we're their for sometimes even less then 4-5 weeks, my MIL asks 'Aren't you two about ready to take another trip?'...

We have a gardener for a simple 'Mow & Blow' job on the landscaping. MIL has all of the contacts for our plumber, electrician, appliance repairman - etc. (And Murphy's Law, it is always when we're gone, that something needs repairs... So I don't even get a chance to show my skill set, prior to calling the tradesmen to come fix the problem, and while there, undo whatever I messed up too.)

This has allowed my MIL to live budget wise much easier on her SS income. She is able to go do basically whatever she wants to do financially, where as if she was still paying rent somewhere, she'd be on a rather tight budget.

And my wife and her are good friends, so that helps. I kind of like her too! About the only odd thing about when we're all together. Is he goes to the commissary and Costco usually the week before we're to be back to the vacation home. Fills up two refrigerators!!! We keep most of our stuff in our RV fridge, only moving a few other items that have limited shelf life. But dang if sometimes we end up having to go back out to the RV multiple times the first week or two, as no room in the houses fridge!! (My wife thinks she does this because for decades, she could not. I think she does it, sort of like taking over the other guest bedroom, to show us that we're now 'guests' in her home!!!

It really does work out well for all of us. And we have neighbors and friends that check in on her locally. And my BIL and his wife are close enough the they can get to her within 30 minis if needed, and amazing the times we call to say HI - and they're all over BBQ'ing and watching a movie all together. Kind of cool.

Informative thread, well not my part, but all of the tips and things to consider posted by others!!

Best to all, be safe, have fun,
Smitty
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