Because I’m a man of the people (and, because I’m—yet again—on the ugly side of a deadline) I present to you an oldie that never gets moldy. The Snowbird’s Checklist:
Clear the Crumbs Take all food with you, even non-perishables. You can donate the non-perishables to Foothills Food Bank (480-488-1145). If a critter happens to get in while you’re gone, you’ll be glad you did. Don’t forget to clean appliances like toasters and ovens for the same reason.
Take out the Trash Empty all trash and wash out all waste baskets and garbage cans. Run the dishwasher and make sure you wipe up any water in the bottom. Your nose will be glad you did. Critters will find what you leave behind.
Pay For Pest Control Do not suspend it. The bugs don’t know you’re away.
Set A/C at 85 Degrees And change the filters. If you don’t, the heat could crack cabinets, drywall and, in some cases, even windows. It’s a good idea to have the system serviced before you leave, including having the condensate lines blown.
Leave the Fridge On Set it to the highest setting and leave an open jug of water in both sides. Since it’s on anyway, put your candles in there so they don’t melt.
Shut Some Power Off Turn off the breakers to anything that won’t need power, like the microwave, range and dishwasher, to minimize “power drain” and higher utility bills.
Remove Batteries Take the batteries out of all remotes, clocks, and everything else, except the smoke detectors. (By the way, Duracell says don’t put them in the fridge. Another myth busted!)
Cut the Water As long as the landscape is getting water, it’s OK to turn off the water to your house. But take these precautions:
- Make sure the water heater is turned to “off”—not “pilot” or “vacation”—or you could cook the heater if you’re gone for a long time.
- Have someone come turn the water on once a month (at least) and run all fixtures and flush the toilets. Have them also run a quick cycle in the washer. If not, the traps will dry out and the house will smell like a sewer.
- Fill a 5-gallon bucket of water, one for every bathroom and one in the kitchen, to keep moisture in the house so things don’t dry out too much. I recommend putting the buckets in the tub/shower and the kitchen sink to keep from making rings on the flooring.
- Plastic wrap over the toilets will slow down evaporation. Choose colored wrap to avoid… well, you know! Some people even put a little vegetable oil in the sink/tub/shower drains to slow down evaporation.
- If your shut-off valve is outside, remove the handle to minimize the chance of knuckleheads doing what knuckleheads do.
Then enjoy your time away from Arizona. When you get back, I’ll be right here, staring down another dastardly deadline and maybe, just maybe, filing on time.
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Editor’s Note: This Classic Prickett, updated slightly, has appeared in some form at least twice before in In&Out Magazine.