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OldSoldier
We are preparing for our first extended (4 week+) tour on the road to the Pacific Northwest.

I was wondering what you all do to prepare the house you will leave behind while you are gone. We live in southern AZ and don't expect any critical weather issues while gone (no hurricanes, tornadoes, etc.) We are taking our dogs with us, but leaving our cats in the capable hands of a pet sitter who lives across the street from us.

Surely would appreciate any suggestions that you all might have that will ease our minds about leaving the house behind for a month.

Thanks in advance.
Cheryl Fuller
QUOTE(OldSoldier @ Aug 29 2006, 08:10 AM) *
We are preparing for our first extended (4 week+) tour on the road to the Pacific Northwest.

I was wondering what you all do to prepare the house you will leave behind while you are gone. We live in southern AZ and don't expect any critical weather issues while gone (no hurricanes, tornadoes, etc.) We are taking our dogs with us, but leaving our cats in the capable hands of a pet sitter who lives across the street from us.

Surely would appreciate any suggestions that you all might have that will ease our minds about leaving the house behind for a month.

Thanks in advance.




When we are going to be gone for an extended period, we normally unplug the microwave and computer to protect against power surges or lightening strikes (which are common here). We also have our neighbor take in the mail and newspapers. I know some people just stop those services but we think the fewer people who know your home is vacant for a long period, the better. Sometimes, he even puts one of his trash cans in front of our house on trash day. Our sons live nearby, so they routinely come by and mow the grass and switch whatever interior lights are left on. We also leave a radio playing inside the house so if anyone were to break in, they would hear noise. We do not inform the alarm company that we will be gone - again, we do try to keep ourselves off lists that state we are away from our residence. They do have my cell phone number and if they could not reach us at home, they would call that number and at that time I would make them aware that it was not us that triggered the alarm.
Beastdriver
I would add two suggestions to Cheryl's excellent ideas. One, I would pull the circuit breaker on the hot water heater. You don't need to be paying for that while you are gone and, two, I would suggest you turn off the water, if at all possible. at least to the washer. Washer hoses are prone to burst after a few years, and you have a real mess when they do. We shut off all water, but our sprinkler system in on a well. You may not be able to do that, but at least shut off the hoses to the washer.
mastercraft
To add to the previous comments, we have purchased several of the indoor timers that we put on lamps in the house. I have them set to go on at various times to simulate someone in the house. Our neighbors have been great as far as watching the house, getting the mail and taking our trash out.
Texasrvers
Leaving your cats behindóoh no, wonít they get lonely? We take our 2 with us, but then we donít have any dogs right now.

Some other people posted while I was writing this, so please excuse the duplication. Everything they have said is good. They also mentioned some things that we will start doing.

You can do a lot or a little to your house. We tend to overdo, but fortunately we have not had any major trouble while weíve been gone. Here are some of the things we have done:

Donít close all the curtains and blinds unless this is how you normally keep your house. It should still look ďlived in.Ē

Let local police know you will be gone. (But remember to tell them about the pet sitter or you may have to pay his/her bail.)

Donít have a message on your answering machine that says you are away from home.

Stop mail and newspapers or have neighbor get them.

Set timers to turn on and off lights at the same times you normally would.

Unless someone is watering your plants, turn off the water at the street just in case a pipe decides to break while youíre gone. (This is more likely in cold weather, but it can happen anytime.)

We set outdoor water timers and use a wicking system to water indoor plants.

Set the temperature higher or lower. (We set at 80 degrees in the warm months and 50 in the winter.)

Clean out any items in the refrigerator that might spoil before you return.

Put bars or sliding locks on patio doors and windows so that they canít be opened even if unlocked.

Hide any valuables that you donít take with you. (You obviously canít put away everything, but we do hide jewelry and some hunting rifles. We also try not to have computers and other small electronic equipment visible through the windows.)

Lastly donít worry and HAVE FUN on your trip.
John Blue
Old Soldier,

We do everything per the other post and never have any trouble that you can stop. Things will go wrong at times but most can be fixed as soon as you return home. We have been on the road three months at the time and had no problems. Next overnight trip, we get a call that a light is out. Main thing is to set up a short check list so you will not forget any items on list. Have fun in your travels.
OldSoldier
Thanks all for your input. I've accumulated the recommendations into an "out the door" checklist already stickied to the door.

Thanks all. biggrin.gif
Cheryl
You could also have somebody cut your grass or shovel your walk depending on the season.
OldSoldier
Shovel the sidewalk? "yuck!!!" That's why I moved to Arizona. biggrin.gif

Father-in-law will check the house and mow if necessary. Once the monsoons end at the end of this month, grass also stops growing. We mow 3 times a year whether or not we need to.

Thanks to all who have made suggestions, have added a lot of what you all have mentioned to my "out the door" list.

Thanks again.

smile.gif
Cheryl
That was just a generic suggestion for anybody. We don't get to travel in the winter (yet) so it's just the grass we have to think about.
OldSoldier
I was teasing. Left my last snow shovel, stuck in the grass of my Mass. home in 1993 with a sign on it for any one who wanted the shovel.

"Take it----I'll never need it again. Arizona BOUND"

tongue.gif biggrin.gif "YEA!!!!"

Not teasing you about being northern bound. smile.gif
Cheryl
QUOTE
I was teasing.


I got that.

I was serious though, that the advice could be helpful to some lucky people that don't have to work ohmy.gif and can travel all winter away from the snow, only visiting for a short time. I like a little snow, especially at Christmas, but not too much. Although the snow days when school is cancelled are great, we have to pay for them by going longer into June.

About your leaving your shovel with a for free sign, I read an email once about a person trying to give something away with no takers. Finally he put up a sign "for sale, $20". The next day, someone had stolen the item!
Full Timers
QUOTE(OldSoldier @ Aug 29 2006, 11:10 AM) *

We are preparing for our first extended (4 week+) tour on the road to the Pacific Northwest.

I was wondering what you all do to prepare the house you will leave behind while you are gone. We live in southern AZ and don't expect any critical weather issues while gone (no hurricanes, tornadoes, etc.) We are taking our dogs with us, but leaving our cats in the capable hands of a pet sitter who lives across the street from us.

Surely would appreciate any suggestions that you all might have that will ease our minds about leaving the house behind for a month.

Thanks in advance.


You have some good ideas. Also if you have call forwarding you might have you calls forwarded to your cell phone. rolleyes.gif
boater
I bought a fairly inexpensive timer at radio shack and some switches that can control lights. We set several lights on in the house from these timers all year round, so you never know if we are home or not. Also have several outside flood lights that come on on motion sensors and a couple that come on a photocell at dark.
Very important get dead bolts that are keyed on both inside and outside for every door. Makes it much harder to get in and out. Also we bought inexpensive screw sets that go thru buoth sasles of the window, so they cant be opened easily( this came from locaql police.)

other than that shut off the washer hoses( both hot and cold( they make a big mess if they burst) and it happens. also the hot water heater, computer, tv etc
last thing best to put your valuable papers- home insurance, car titles, wills,jewelry etc in a saety deposit box. Think ofd what you might need if there were a firex, and you lost house. Good idea to haver pictures of your home interior for insurance.
sorry this got long winded but we were bnroken into several years ago, so i guess im kind of a nut now.
Cheryl Fuller
You have some good ideas. Also if you have call forwarding you might have you calls forwarded to your cell phone. rolleyes.gif
______________________________________________________________





Downside to that is that you will be wasting your minutes with all of the junk calls you will be getting. We are on the National Do Not Call list,but that does not stop all the calls we get for political reasons, charities, surveys, etc. which are exempt from those lists...
rvdude
I posted the following on another forum and repeat it here...
Some ideas already mentioned...

Here's how *I* handle the empty house syndrome (whether a weekend or a full year):

1) First and foremost, water OFF at the main home entrance valve (not the street valve), no matter how short or long a time away. this also means water heater OFF and ice maker OFF and automatic humidifiers OFF. A plumbing burst, even a trickle, can turn to utter disaster over many weeks. Even if you have someone drop by every few days, OFF. Turning off at the house (not the street) means you (probably) can still leave irrigation on if you have it.

2) Electricty - do nothing, no need to. Just make sure all appliances OFF, refer cleaned out - probably off and opened, also good idea to unplug TV, stereo, PC in the event of lightning surges. Leave no machinery running (i.e. fans) that could cause harm if it breaks while away. I do leave a couple lights on random timers.

3) Thermostat - set to HOLD at 50 in winter and 80 in summer. Colder in winter is fine if you don't have a history of pipe freezes under counters and the like. I would not go higher in summer due to humidity buildup (unless you are in Arizona). I do run a separate de-humidifier 24/7 that drains out of a locked window during the summer as well. That was one of the best things I did to eliminate the stagnant musty buildup problem. Make sure to leave the overflow devices intact on it however.

4) Mail: 2 issues, 1) getting it when away if needed, 2) not having any pile up while away. Get an Escapees type adddress or do the same with a UPS Store (MailBoxes Etc, type of store) and move ALL bills and personal mail to that new address. In fact, I have all my mail including IRS, drivers license, and voter registration going to my local sticks/bricks home UPS Store mail box. It takes many months before you actually move ALL your mail to this type of address. I then declared the house permanently un-occupied at my local post office. The PO can not deliver mail (i.e. Homeowner, Resident, Occupant junk mail) to an unoccupied house. And the PO won't hold it longer than 30 days I think. Now, my home mailbox is lonely and always empty! If I need my mail while away I just call the store and they box it up and send it to me. While at home I just drive up the street to get it. And I never have to be home to sign for the FedEx delivery either! A US PO Box does not offer these types of services.

5) Bills: 2 considerations, 1) how to pay them, 2) knowing how much to pay when away. As for how to pay them I use online bill paying either through your bank or things like Quicken/MS Money. All of my bills (or any other items) are paid "online". Upon your direction, these services will simply send a check to anyone you direct or in the case of things like your electric bill they have electronic arrangements. Knowing how much to pay: I have a spreadsheet listing all my bills (monthly ones, even once a year ones) down the side and 12 months across the top. As I pay bills whether at home or away I jot down the amount for each month. Then, BEFORE I go away, I can pretty much guess what the next payment amounts will be, for however many months, and I just create an online payment, generously rounded up, to be be "paid" automatically by the online service on that future date.(* see note below). In this way I never ever worry about bills (or even getting my mail) on the road. Sort of simulates not having the dang bricks/sticks and it is nice to be able to completely forget about it while away. Using the "budget plan" for your utilities is excellent as then your payments are fixed each month. For the exacting crowd, most billers have some means of web access to your bill if you need to know exactly how much each bill will be. I do cheat and look at my visa bill online each month and simply transfer the amount owed while I am on my bank's website while I am looking at the bill.

6) Arrange for lawn mowing and the like. Windows all closed, doors locked, all outside stuff put inside or undercver, or locked down from storms. You don't need a freak thunder storm sending your deck chair/umbrella through your windows. Cars locked. Also clean out perishable pantry items. Probably move them right into the RV! Empty all trash. Leave nothing to entice vermin. Toilet lids UP to get light/air in there and stop mold growth. I leave all drapes wide open to let the sun in. I also open closet doors and even drawers as here in the mid atlantic, musty conditions will develop and your stack of beautifully clean towels will smell musty in just a couple months of being idle.

7) I tell my neighbors my cell number and that I'll be away though I don't arrange for any formal check ups by anyone. I never like to impose. I also jokingly advise that upon the sight of smoke they should wait until there are just ashes before calling IPB Image Sadly, truth is, it is far easier to claim a total loss than negotiate the extent of a partial loss! I know this from experience.
8) Make a checklist. Just like you might have a rig packing list, mine has a section at the bottom of everything to do in the house, item by item.

9) Have fun knowing you can forget about those sticks for a while!

(*) NOTE. Some bill payer services like, I *think* the web based Bank of America system, will deduct each and every payment you make from your balance AT the time you enter it regardless of when it is queued up to actually pay. BE AWARE of this or similar limitations! Other systems will NOT deduct the payment amount from your balance until the actual check is presented for payment. THIS is the method you want as you can queue up many months of payments even though your monthly deposits aren't deposited yet.

10) And did I say have fun knowing you can forget about those sticks for a while?
boater
I would like to know about the wicking system that yo use to water your plants indoors . I have tried one, but it didnt work
QUOTE(Texasrvers @ Aug 29 2006, 12:13 PM) *

Leaving your cats behindóoh no, wonít they get lonely? We take our 2 with us, but then we donít have any dogs right now.

Some other people posted while I was writing this, so please excuse the duplication. Everything they have said is good. They also mentioned some things that we will start doing.

You can do a lot or a little to your house. We tend to overdo, but fortunately we have not had any major trouble while weíve been gone. Here are some of the things we have done:

Donít close all the curtains and blinds unless this is how you normally keep your house. It should still look ďlived in.Ē

Let local police know you will be gone. (But remember to tell them about the pet sitter or you may have to pay his/her bail.)

Donít have a message on your answering machine that says you are away from home.

Stop mail and newspapers or have neighbor get them.

Set timers to turn on and off lights at the same times you normally would.

Unless someone is watering your plants, turn off the water at the street just in case a pipe decides to break while youíre gone. (This is more likely in cold weather, but it can happen anytime.)

We set outdoor water timers and use a wicking system to water indoor plants.

Set the temperature higher or lower. (We set at 80 degrees in the warm months and 50 in the winter.)

Clean out any items in the refrigerator that might spoil before you return.

Put bars or sliding locks on patio doors and windows so that they canít be opened even if unlocked.

Hide any valuables that you donít take with you. (You obviously canít put away everything, but we do hide jewelry and some hunting rifles. We also try not to have computers and other small electronic equipment visible through the windows.)

Lastly donít worry and HAVE FUN on your trip.
Texasrvers
Boater,

Sure, I'll be glad to tell you about this very sophisticated laugh.gif wicking system.

All I did was buy a roll of wicking material that is usually used for making candles. It is available at craft stores and is not very expensive, but I can't remember what I paid. The size is a little smaller round than a pencil. Then I put a gallon milk jug filled with water by each plant and run a piece of the wicking from the jug to the plant. I poke a hole in the soil and put in about 2" of the wicking and cover it with soil. If the plant is big I put in 2-4 wicking strands. My largest plants are in 20" pots, and this has worked up to 6 weeks with no problem, but the water was about to run out after that time.

Here's a few tips that I follow:

I always soak the wicking material for about 30 min. before using it. There have been times it didn't start wicking if I didn't do this.

I use the gallon milk jugs so that the water will last up to about 6 weeks. Also they have small openings so the water doesn't evaporate as quickly as it would in a bucket.

I make sure the wicking in the jug will reach all the way to the bottom for when the water gets lower.

The jugs should sit lower than the pots so that the water will wick up. Don't know why it has to be that way but it does seem to be true.

I set this up about 2-3 days before we leave just to be sure it is wicking. Then I refill the jugs to the top just before we leave.

I water the plants really well before leaving so that they won't need the water in the jugs until later.

I try to keep the plants and jugs out of direct sunlight to keep down the evaportaion.

When we return I rinse off the wicking, let it dry out, and use it again. Course it's cheap enough to just throw out and start over each time.

And that's all there is to it. Hope this info helps you.
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