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 Post subject: Snowbird advice?
Post Posted: Jan 1, 2017 10:44 am 
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We were considering trying out the snowbird lifestyle--taking our camper south for the winter. What advice do snowbirders have in general? Home security, water pipes, food, freezer food, mail delivery, thermostat settings, etc. What works and doesn't work? Trade-offs?

We already have a lot of security cameras that we can monitor from the internet as well as a burglar alarm system. We'd be fine with leaving the heater on since initially we'd only leave for a month or so, but later we may want to let the house freeze to save on propane costs if this wouldn't harm the house, assuming the pipes have been cleared.

On a related side-note: Once we tried turning off the main water supply to our home (just after storage pressure tank) and the hot water heater started simmering/bubbling--is this normal? (We didn't wait to see what happened next.) Should we turn off the well pump too?

Thanks for your advice!


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 Post subject: Re: Snowbird advice?
Post Posted: Jan 1, 2017 1:33 pm 
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Here is a good article and checklist. you will notice, there is no mention of trying to shut the water off, but adjusting the heat setting to keep pipes from freezing

http://www.topretirements.com/blog/home ... list.html/


the next link goes into pipes and water

http://learningstore.uwex.edu/assets/pdfs/B3359.PDF


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 Post subject: Re: Snowbird advice?
Post Posted: Jan 1, 2017 1:46 pm 
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If you shut off the heat, you need to actually blow out the water pipes with compressed air to prevent burst pipes where the water won't drian on it's own. Also it is still possible that a shower only may have water trapped in the control head that may need to have the cartridge pulled to prevent it from freezing and bursting. Also put some rubbing alcohol in all of the toilet, sink, tub and shower drains to prevent the drains from bursting. Make sure to drain the toilet tank of most of the water and put some rubbing alcohol in the tank as well. Yes shut off the water pump and drain the water heater and pressure tank.

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 Post subject: Re: Snowbird advice?
Post Posted: Jan 1, 2017 2:33 pm 
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Stecat's advice is good but perhaps consider the cheaper and less flammable RV antifreeze rather than rubbing alcohol in traps, toilets etc.


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 Post subject: Re: Snowbird advice?
Post Posted: Jan 1, 2017 5:01 pm 
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We did this for many years. Leave the heat on the lowest setting, Shut off the well pump, If you have a faucet or drain at the lowest point in or outside the house open it with the well pump off. Open other faucets in the house so most of the water drains out. Shut the outside faucets after draining is complete. Make sure no outside hoses are connected. Turn off the water heater. no need to drain the heater if the heat is left on at lowest setting. I have done this for 18+ years both before we lived here full time as well as after. If you have an alarm see if they have a feature that would respond to low temperature and alert you, if so having someone in the area to check the house would be a plus. Hope this helps.


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 Post subject: Re: Snowbird advice?
Post Posted: Jan 1, 2017 5:34 pm 
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What I neglected to mention is another reason you don't want to let the house freeze is Where the water comes in from the well into the house, shutting off the well does not mean that the water in the lines will drain back into the well, there is a check valve in the well which prevents back flow when the pump turns off. In my sons house before he moved in he had the water off and decided not to leave the heat on. The drywall cracked in a few places. The different materials wood drywall etc. contract and expand at different rates. We are leaving early AM Monday to go back to Florida to beat the next incoming snow. The entire process takes me about 20 minutes to drain and secure house. We have a large 4000 sq. ft. 2 story once you do it a few times it gets easy.


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 Post subject: Re: Snowbird advice?
Post Posted: Jan 1, 2017 8:10 pm 
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And remember to take away all the canned food, soda pop etc because when they freeze they typically burst and burst cans of soda pop or chili get to be a bit messy. :yikes:


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 Post subject: Re: Snowbird advice?
Post Posted: Jan 2, 2017 11:02 am 
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Thank you for taking the time to offer all the great advice.

If we do choose to let the house "freeze," what do you typically set the thermostat to? To not freeze, it would be 55, but to save on heating costs, perhaps 40? Does anyone have experience of how much gas/propane that would save during the coldest months? I'd not bother if it only saved $50.


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 Post subject: Re: Snowbird advice?
Post Posted: Jan 2, 2017 2:43 pm 
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Ever considered a housesitter/caretaker instead?


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 Post subject: Re: Snowbird advice?
Post Posted: Jan 2, 2017 4:50 pm 
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girl-living-life wrote:
Thank you for taking the time to offer all the great advice.

If we do choose to let the house "freeze," what do you typically set the thermostat to? To not freeze, it would be 55, but to save on heating costs, perhaps 40? Does anyone have experience of how much gas/propane that would save during the coldest months? I'd not bother if it only saved $50.

I would not recommend letting the house freeze. Whatever you save would not compare to the damage that could happen. We set ours at 55 and as I said 18 years with zero damage or problems.


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 Post subject: Re: Snowbird advice?
Post Posted: Jan 2, 2017 5:54 pm 
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girl-living-life, As Big Fred said I would not let my house freeze either, it's not worth the plumbing bills and time to fix the damage. My rv is winterized every year but one year with prolonged cold the flooring cracked and that type of thing can happen depending on your set up. I also have a single wide set up in sw Colorado off grid with 9 solar panels and propane for my heat. I am on a pre buy program with the local company and they top my tank off every month from October to March. They send me a statement once a month and let me know if anything is out of the ordinary. Generally it's between 50 to 80 gallons a month. I set my heat at 55 to 60 and leave the doors open at the sink and bathrooms so they can get heat. I have been doing this for 15 years. I try to get down there at least once a month but don't always make it! Good luck with whatever you decide and be safe in your travels!

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 Post subject: Re: Snowbird advice?
Post Posted: Jan 3, 2017 1:40 pm 
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Thank you everyone for the advice. I think letting the house freeze isn't in our forecast (ha!) When we live at the house, we don't go through much propane as we heat with our woodstove. We typically fill our 500 gallon tank every 2 1/2 - 3 years. I think I might run a test and see how much propane we go through if we leave our house at 55. I'll either bundle up or like the sta-puff marshmallow man or leave for a couple of weeks!

HighHome, we wouldn't consider a housesitter unless we knew them very well. Our experience with local contractors leaves us with little confidence to trust our home to strangers.

I'm also wondering if you snowbirds empty your refrigerators and turn them off? I suppose that would be a good way for me to clean the refrigerator out.

Thanks again, everyone.


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