View Full Version : Tips for preparing to leave your stick house

12-05-2006, 12:33 AM
Every time we leave on a long trip, no matter how hard we try, we manage to forget to do something! One time it was a loaf of bread in the breadbox, last time it was potato salad in the 'frig. Maybe by sharing those little tasks that we might overlook in our prep, we can help one another. I think we could work on a checklist for shutting up the house, etc., much like the one that has been made up for setting up camp. These hints will help us work on that list.

We like to keep a lamp on a timer when we're gone. We changed our mailing address to a P.O. box that we use even when we're home. Then our daughter picks up our mail once a month or so. We do most of our bill paying on the computer.

Joyce H
12-05-2006, 01:27 AM
I have made up a checklist for closing our summer home when we leave in the Montana to hit the road for eight or nine months a year. Also have a list for reopening the summer house. I leave this list on the dinning room table when we depart so if there is an emergency our children will know what we have done to the house prior to leaving. At my age i am sure I would forget something if I did not have this list. This is a list which I have personalized to our needs. Each house is different and your list will depend on the time of year you are leaving and how long you will be gone.

Mrs. CountryGuy
12-05-2006, 02:06 AM

Thanks Admin and all our supporters and our MAIN man that started this idea!! Thanks RKassl !! :D :D :D

OK, Joyce, do you have that list printed up, computer something or other, so that we could all look at it, and add suggestions. I like Judy's idea of having one here at MOC, like our PDI list!!

So, here are a few things we do:

1.) Have mail forwarded or held, depending on how long we will be gone and if we are staying in one place for a while. I personally have found our post mistress very helpful in this arena.

2.) Stop or suspend any service you can, we live in the boonies, and have to pay for our own garbage service, we suspend, must be gone more than a month to do so, but saves $$. Suspend full coverage on the car left home, why pay insurance on it for 2 to 4 months. This saves us a lot of coin. Have suspended the phone service, but was not real thrilled with this, current plan is to have that number ported to a new cell phone with a company that covers the Irish Hills (bad service out here in the boonies)

3.) Turn off refrigerator, if you have more than one, shut em all off. Clean out well, wash down, etc. Leave doors open for a few hours to get all moisture out and dried up and then stuff with newspapers (crunched up) and close doors. When you get home, they will have no mold or smells, but you MUST allow them to dry out well before newspaper and closing doors, you don't need to ask why I know, do you?? [xx(]

4.) Turn heat down to 45 in winter, air conditioning up to about 80 during the summer. Saves a ton of coin.

5.) Winterize your water system in your stick built, just like you would with your rig. Turn off pump, or whatever (we live with a well), drain, open all the faucets, get water out of the toilets (my personal favorite, NOT!, but must be done). Now, when all the water is drained off, run some RV pink through the dishwasher and washing machine, just dump in a bit, run them on the spin or drain cycle, just a little, turn off. Dump pink in the drains, and in the toilets, flush so you get some pink down the toilet drains. (In summer you might consider draining your hot water heater and turning off feeds to the washer. This gets a maintenance item done on the water heater and if those feeds break you won't be happy with the flooding, ick)

6.) Remove ALL PEPPERMINT candies from the premises. Contrary to the beliefs of some, I can promise and guarantee that mice love them! You don't want to know how ugly it was, or how long I found evidence.

7.) If you have someone who lives close and can check your house frequently and feed the cat, OWN ONE!! A house cat. Then you might be able to leave the peppermint candies at home! [}:)]

12-05-2006, 02:24 AM
Great ideas, Carol! We were glad to find out that it took only a phone call to save money on insurance for the car sitting in the garage. Now we've saved even more....we sold the car to our son when we thought we were going to fulltime! Some folks advocate putting wood or plastic under the tires so that they don't stay in contact with the concrete. I'm not sure if this is necessary or not.

We put our land line phone on minimum service in order to keep our security system working. We saved several dollars a month by eliminating long distance and call waiting services. Now we use our cell phones for long distance calling at home.

Joyce H
12-05-2006, 12:23 PM
Just knew someone was going to ask for my checklist. Unfortunately I do not have it on my laptop which I have with me in the Monty. It is on my old desktop PC which I keep at the summer house and won't be back there until sometime in May. Sorry bout that...I am sure we can all put our heads together and eventually come up with a good list. LOL

1)We use a mail forwarding service for all our mail. Mail Call USA. Our summer home is in WV and we have always listed it as a vacation home as taxes are hign in WV. We have continued to keep TN one of the few states with no income tax as our domicile.

2) We change the phone service to a very basic plan while we are away and have it switched back when we get back to the summer place.

3) We clean out the refrigerator, but leave it on. Electric is inexpensive in the area and with the coolness of the house and the door remaining closed doesn't really save much to turn it off.

4) Close doors to all rooms (we have individual electric baseboard heat in each room) that do not have pipes. We leave bathroom doors and kitchen open with one thermostat on 45. We also put a small amount of windshiled washer fluid in all drain traps. (just in case there is a power failure resulting in no heat). We are on a well so we turn off the electric to the pump which would prevent any water flow if there happen to be a frozen or break in a pipe while we are away. Also turn off electric to our hot water heater. We always turn off the water leads to the washer.

5) Put a couple of lamps on timers so lights will come on and off at different times making house look occupied.

6)Make sure all windows and doors are closed and locked.

7)Clean out all cabinets and pantry. Take all perishable foods with you. Make sure any food items (including dry pasta...I have a story about that one) are sealed in metal, glass, or heavy plastic containers. Your oven, refrigerator, and microwave are tight places to store any items you think mice or other critters may be interested in.

Am sure I will be adding more as we go...

12-06-2006, 03:10 AM
WOW, I'm lovin these ideas. We will definately need to follow all of these ideas when we snowbird. For now, tho we are only gone for a month at a time. And we have already made the decision to STOP the house phone line. With a cell phone for each of us and a wireless card for internet who needs the land line? We may change our mind about that but for now it's our plan. Emptying the pantry and refrig is my biggest pain. We usually end up giving bunches of stuff to the kids and toss the rest. But we leave it plugged in for one month. I'm sure that when we are gone longer we will adjust accordingly.

12-06-2006, 03:52 AM
Just a friendly "excuse me" to JoyceH about storing food. Your Microwave and refridgerator are sealed. The oven is not. The vents (heat exhaust) are perfect highways and the insulation surrounding the oven is a cozy home. Experience is a good teacher!

Joyce H
12-06-2006, 08:53 AM
Thanks for the correction ggranch. I never thought anout the vents in the stove oven. Guess I have been lucky in the past. Fortunately when I left the summer house this year I did not put anything in the stove oven. Glad you jumped in with the "excuse me".

12-06-2006, 10:33 AM
Another thing we've done before a long trip is turn off our second water heater. We leave one on in case our daughter comes home and needs to wash something.

We live in a small town and notify the police when we're leaving and they do drive by checks. They even did this during Glen's extended stay in the hospital. They did their job too well. We left the back porch door open so our kitty could eat on his feeding table on the porch. I would come home and the door would be closed so I opened it. The police would come by and find that I had opened it, so they closed it again! Back and forth we went. Fortunately we have good neighbors who also feed the kitty.

Tom Gina 06
12-06-2006, 12:13 PM
We used to live in a small town (4100). When we left I contacted the police chief and let him know what our contact number was and that we were leaving for around 5 1/2 months. He said that he would have all his officers keep an extra eye on things at their next meeting. Talked to the neighbors and let them know to keep an eye out with contact numbers also. We also flipped every breaker off except for the night lights we wanted on and the heat. I drained the hot tub pulled the plumbing apart to get all the water out of it and pulled the outside GFI circut breaker out and put it in the house. With the breakers off I propped the empty fridge and freezers doors open. Also left all the faucets open used compressed air to blow out the pipes. Drained the hot water heater. (remember do not turn on the breaker for the hot water until you fill it again!) Just a few things to add to the list for different situations. This year selling everything and going fulltime has made it much easier. Even with that we are still freezing our butts off this year in Northern TX. At least that is what all these Texans are saying....LOL

Remember the................

12-07-2006, 11:52 PM
Some great ideas here. I also live in a small town (1236), and never thought of notifying the local police that we will be gone. Also they could have our cell number in case of any emergency.


12-08-2006, 04:20 AM
Hi All,

Some great ideas here.

Something I used this year was a product called "EverPrime". It's a liquid that is used to seal the drains when gone for long periods. You gan "Google" it to find it.

Simply pour a couple of oz. into each drain and it sits on top of the water in the "P" Trap, preventing evaporation. I also poured some in the Toilets both the bowl and tank. It forms a layer.

When returning Home it simply flushs away. No stain no smell and no bacteria on the water. Pretty cool stuff.

This year we were gone 4 mos. and left the A/C set at 90 deg. Returing Home no smells.

We turned off all water and power except for A/C and Smoke Detectors.
Saved a bit of $ having water turned off by the Utility Co. as they have a monthly min. charge of $65. No charge for shut off and $50 for turn on. All our landscape is Desert so no need for water on the property. Called the Utility Co. a couple of days before getting home so all was ready for us.

Any bills we have are auto pay, so the only mail of concern would be from the Courts (Jury Duty) of maybe the IRS (Audit). Our Neighbor collects the mail and calls us if something like this should show up.

It's a great life,
Happy Camping

12-08-2006, 05:55 AM
Thanks for the hint about Everprime, Steve. That sounds like a great product and we'll look into it. Glen said he has previously asked our daughter to flush everything when she comes up for her check.

Bob, if you ask the police to check your house, be sure to give them a description of any vehicles that might be in the driveway to check your house while you're gone as discussed in a previous post.

12-08-2006, 03:20 PM
I was talking to a relative that has a cabin in northern Mi. and leaves his heat on all winter. They have a electronic device that calls their cell phone if the temp drops below 45 degrees or if the power goes out for more than an hour. Then they can call someone to go have a look see. They have two thermostats on the furnace and if they call their number at the cabin and give it a pin # it switches thermostats and turns the heat up so when they get there it's warm inside allready. All pretty neat stuff.

12-08-2006, 03:58 PM
We have a condo in a gated complex which makes it real easy to lock the door and go. Our developer owns the condo right next door, and his mother lives right below us, so he keeps a good eye on our place. We turn the temp. down to 60 in winter and 68 in summer. We leave the frig on. We had been having USPS forward our mail, but one of the rv parks that we spent two months at in Idaho, prefer you to have your mail sent in bulk, so they don't have to sort individual letters. We understand, because the park has 300+ spaces, and is packed from spring until fall. We are members of escapee and will probably use them to forward mail during our three month stay in Alabama from Jan thru March. Although, I have to check with the park to see if they have problems with individual letters, if not, I will use USPS forwarding. Had our Dish scaled down to minimum programing, since we couldn't put it on hold, since we didn't have our contract for a year. It only costs about $20. Just have vellphones, so no problem with landline. Have the marina manager chase the spiders around to keep it in good shape. I did forget to remove the terminal on my boat battery, so will do that during my two day stay at home between Arizona trip and Alabama trip. Can't figure out why the stick house anymore, except I don't think I could find another place like it, with a great lake view, when we finally settle down that I could afford ten years from now. Maybe we will switch from being on the road 10 months to only 9 1/2 months. Happy holidays.

barb and bob