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Old 08-14-2013, 04:05 PM   #21
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  1. Shut off the main water and drain the lines by running a faucet in the lowest level.
  2. Unplug TVs, stereos, etc, and disconnect cable/satellite lines to avoid damage by lightning or power surges.
  3. Leave a light on a timer in a front window. Random is better. I also had one of those multi colored LED lights that changed colors in a pattern. I put that on a timer too, to look like a TV. In fact I think I put this one in the front, and a regular light on a timer in the back. Test it to see if it's visible from the outside and open your blinds just enough to make it so.
  4. Set your security alarm if you have one. The worst part of a break in would be that the house is now open and weather and wildlife can get in and do more damage.
  5. Have a neighbor check and remove any junk left on your front porch and door, and check for broken windows or other signs of break in or damage if you don't have a security alarm (or as a backup). Have them take care of any other obvious signs you aren't there, like removing a tree branch from your driveway.
  6. Heat at 50 if there's a chance of a freeze. A/C at 90 in summer.
  7. Forward/hold mail
  8. Arrange for lawn care or snow shoveling as needed
Two months really isn't a problem as far as the house goes. Just protect yourself against water damage from a broken pipe, limit house damage if a door or window is broken, and do your best to discourage a burglar.
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Old 08-14-2013, 04:08 PM   #22
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Another way to have burglaries cause you no harm is to have nothing of value in the house. If someone took something from our house, it would probably improve the value of the whole thing and its contents.
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Old 08-14-2013, 04:14 PM   #23
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Another way to have burglaries cause you no harm is to have nothing of value in the house. If someone took something from our house, it would probably improve the value of the whole thing and its contents.
When I was shuttling between VA and TX I left my TX house with little of value in it. The only problem is, I couldn't be sure any burglars knew this, and I doubted they'd be polite enough to shut the door behind them or replace any broken glass. Get even just a squirrel in there and you won't be calling it "no harm".
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Old 08-14-2013, 05:56 PM   #24
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We leave our home for 2 months in the winter. I installed a wifi enabled thermostat so I can monitor my indoor temperature from my smartphone. Temperature is set at 50 degrees. Provides a lot of peace of mind. I can also control the temperature as needed, so it's at the correct temperature when we arrive home. Great for a weekend trip also. Easy to install, cost $99.
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Old 08-14-2013, 07:02 PM   #25
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Interesting - I've never heard of that. I assume that you leave your AC on? I heard AZ was dry but never would have thought a toilet bowl full of water would evaporate so quickly. Learn something new every day.
I leave the AC at 90 in the summer, heat at 50 in the winter. In addition to the toilets, all other traps go dry between trips. Very dry. I have to keep the AC on or the counter top will delaminate and the veneer on the kitchen table will peel during the summer.
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Old 08-14-2013, 07:09 PM   #26
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We leave our main house for nine or ten weeks once a year, and a week or two here and there other times. We leave our summer house for 42 weeks a year, give or take.

The other posts have listed many important items to do when leaving.

However, the most important thing is that once you leave, do not think about it again until 1) you hear from someone there is a problem, or 2) you come back, whichever is later.

Any thought or worrying about it in the meantime is a waste, and will not change a thing. When you have mastered this, you will be a happier traveler.
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Old 08-14-2013, 07:38 PM   #27
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Here's my routine

Shut off water
Set timer lighting
Set AC high or heat low
Shut off water heater or set to vacation
Unplug garage door opener
Hold mail
Make sure ip cameras can be seen remotely ( this will tell you if/when the house is demolished) - good to have one camera positioned to read indoor thermometer
IP cameras? Please explain
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Old 08-14-2013, 07:46 PM   #28
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IP cameras? Please explain
I have Internet protocol cameras (indoor) that I can access remotely via smartphone/computer to be able to view what's going on when I'm gone. The cameras have their own wifi to connect to a house's network and the camera mfg provides an interface for remote viewing. Sorry if this doesn't make much sense - I'm not too knowledgable on how they work. I'm going to beef up my systems in the near future with more cameras, etc
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Old 08-14-2013, 08:11 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by RunningBum View Post
When I was shuttling between VA and TX I left my TX house with little of value in it. The only problem is, I couldn't be sure any burglars knew this, and I doubted they'd be polite enough to shut the door behind them or replace any broken glass. Get even just a squirrel in there and you won't be calling it "no harm".
I had squirrel get in my house through the fireplace while I was at work a few years ago. I was amazed at the damage that rodent did in a short amount of time. Tore up 2 window frames and was working on a third before I got home. He obviously decided it was a mistake visiting my house and wanted out bad.
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Old 08-14-2013, 08:31 PM   #30
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Thanks for the tip. Our toilets go dry in our az condo in about 4 weeks. I just let them go dry - there is no smell. Next time I'll try the vegetable oil.
That is a clever idea and would work, but its bad for the sewage treatment plant that has trouble removing grease and oils.

For the record you could be gone for several months and your toilet would still hold a trap seal before that much water evaporated unless you have the new toilets with a very low water level. Older type toilets would go longest as they hold more in the bowl.
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Old 08-14-2013, 08:42 PM   #31
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For the record you could be gone for several months and your toilet would still hold a trap seal before that much water evaporated. Older type toilets would go longest as they hold more in the bowl.
You could put Saran wrap across the bowl and it would never dry out. Just remember to remove before use . . .
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Old 08-14-2013, 09:27 PM   #32
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We've never been gone for more than a couple of weeks (when we lived in the US), and we've only had minor problems when returning:

-one time the thermostat had gone haywire and the heater was keeping the house in the low 90's
-another time all the (wired together) smoke detectors in the house were blaring away..took me a loud hour or so to figure it was just a dead battery in one of them
-a pinhole leak had developed in a hot water pipe between the bathrooms....washed away a bit of sheetrock, but luckily it was low in the wall
-when we moved overseas the first time we left the house empty for a couple of weeks before the renters were to move in. Evidently a sprinkler in the back yard leaked for quite a while, because when the renter (a heavy gentleman) arrived, he walked out in the back yard and sank up to his knee in the mud. He lost his shoe in the muck and backed out of the rental deal, saying that his rottweilers would drown back there. It is 20 years later and as far as I know his shoe is still down there somewhere.

I like the wifi thermostat and camera ideas! Not so sure about the oil can idea.
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Old 08-14-2013, 09:52 PM   #33
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I have Internet protocol cameras (indoor) that I can access remotely via smartphone/computer to be able to view what's going on when I'm gone. The cameras have their own wifi to connect to a house's network and the camera mfg provides an interface for remote viewing. Sorry if this doesn't make much sense - I'm not too knowledgable on how they work. I'm going to beef up my systems in the near future with more cameras, etc
We're starting snowbirding this winter. I've been thinking about this myself. But I was hoping to "turn down" my cable/internet access, which is when the cable mafia company turns off the access, but keeps the equipment and account in place for a "mere" $10/month. If I do that I won't be able to access the cameras.

In the house in FL we have a security system with monitoring, and it uses a Z-Wave system for the thermostat that is monitored over a cell phone network. I like it, and as soon as the contract runs out I'm going to see if I can find another company to monitor it for a lower cost. Even now it's a lot cheaper than keeping the internet on when I'm not home. Maybe I can set up something like that for the northern house too.
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Old 08-14-2013, 10:27 PM   #34
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That is a clever idea and would work, but its bad for the sewage treatment plant that has trouble removing grease and oils.....
True, but it seems hard to believe that a few cups of vegetable oil would be worse than what would normally be put into the system in a few months (salad dressings, bacon grease, chicken fat/grease, etc.).
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Old 08-14-2013, 10:33 PM   #35
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True, but it seems hard to believe that a few cups of vegetable oil would be worse than what would normally be put into the system in a few months (salad dressings, bacon grease, chicken fat/grease, etc.).
And you know, you only need to use enough oil to put a very thin continuous layer on the surface of the water. I'm sure that's a lot less than a cup, especially in the new toilets where the water level is very low.
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Old 08-14-2013, 10:53 PM   #36
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True, but it seems hard to believe that a few cups of vegetable oil would be worse than what would normally be put into the system in a few months (salad dressings, bacon grease, chicken fat/grease, etc.).
Yes but if it catches on and even say 1/100 households do it all adds up. 1 oz of oil can spread out over 10 sf when given a large surface to spread.
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Old 08-16-2013, 12:57 AM   #37
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Technically I can leave it locked up for a long time as in more than a year but practically I would not want to - its quite close to my dream retirement home.
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Old 08-16-2013, 08:39 AM   #38
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Been shutting down Colorado and AZ homes for a while and I do much of what has been listed above along with a few others.

1. Besides Veg oil/plastic wrap in toilets to slow evaporation I put some oil in washing machine, sinks with disposals and dishwasher so that the seals don't dry out.
2. I open all interior doors to promote circulation. In AZ I also place five gallon buckets of water around the house to add some humidity to the house. I have heard stories of cabinets literally warping over the summer because of lack of humidity.
3. If possible turn ALL water off to the house. Make sure that it doesn't affect pool levelers, outside irrigation, etc.
4. Thermostats at 90 degrees in summer and 60 degrees in winter.
5. Car left for long periods is put on a battery trickle charger.
6. Clean out fridge of anything that would rot.
7. Unplug any appliance/electronic that you don't want to fry in a lightning storm.
8. Lawn furniture put away. Hoses disconnected.
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Old 08-16-2013, 09:45 AM   #39
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For the record you could be gone for several months and your toilet would still hold a trap seal before that much water evaporated unless you have the new toilets with a very low water level. Older type toilets would go longest as they hold more in the bowl.
For the record 3 months in Phoenix would evaporate a foot of water out of your toilet and unseal it. Phoenix is not Ohio. Very hot. Very dry. I worked out there for 3 months one year. Sweat immediately evaporated even while doing heavy manual labor. Any standing water loses at least 1/8" per day.
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Old 08-16-2013, 10:39 AM   #40
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And you know, you only need to use enough oil to put a very thin continuous layer on the surface of the water. I'm sure that's a lot less than a cup, especially in the new toilets where the water level is very low.
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Yes but if it catches on and even say 1/100 households do it all adds up. 1 oz of oil can spread out over 10 sf when given a large surface to spread.
I agree that not much oil would need to be used (and probably much less than I stated in my previous post).

My main point was that the small amount of oil would be much less harmful than what is likely entering the system from normal use so I don't see that small amount of oil as being a concern.
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