By Scott Gaertner

It is getting to be that time again when our fine weather fowl friends will be leaving us, and we need to remind them of best practices for leaving.

The Snowbird’s Checklist:

Alert Your H.O.A.
Most HOA’s have vacation watch programs. Let them know you are leaving.

Shut Some Power Off
Turn off the breakers to anything that won’t need power including 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!)

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.

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 wastebaskets 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.

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.

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:

• If you don’t have a water shut off valve – GET ONE! They are a great investment. Toilet and sink feed lines are notorious for flooding homes. If your shut-off valve is outside, remove the handle to minimize the chance of knuckleheads doing what knuckleheads do.

• Make sure the water heater is turned to “off” (not set to “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 you need someone to watch your home let us know. Scottsdale North Homewatchers 480-634-5000 will save you money in the long run, and help you sleep better while you are away. Then enjoy your time away from Arizona but think of us often. We will miss you!!

Scott Gaertner is an Associate Broker with Keller Williams Northeast Realty, who for the past 25+ years has helped more people to find their lifestyle niche in the Scottsdale North area than anyone else.