By Scott Gaertner
Lifestyle Contributor

The Scottsdale North Snowbird habitat provides a lifestyle sanctuary for many of our out of state and out of country clients. Large numbers of them will be returning to their winter nests over the coming months, and in an effort to make their transition as painless as possible here are some tips.

Water is a big issue for home maintenance, but it looms larger when you are away from your home for months at time. We encourage all of our Snowbird buyers to install a whole house water shutoff valve. This headache saver turns off all the water in the home but leaves the outside irrigation and the fire suppression intact. Feed valves for toilets and sinks are particularly vulnerable to problems. I have driven by many a vacant home in the summer to see water draining out of the garage or somewhere else, and then have to make that terrible call to the homeowner.

Here is a Snowbird Checklist put together by Mike Donley of the Donley Service Center:

Snowbirds Checklist
• Flush toilets to remove stagnant water and run water in sinks and showers for several minutes.
• Fill the garbage disposal with ice cubes followed by a cup of rock salt or vinegar. Turn on water and the disposal. The ice will break up rust or corrosion on the blades.
• Flush the water heater to remove sediment and other buildup inside the tank.
“November is also a good time for Phoenicians to check for water leaks,” Donley says. “As people plant winter grass, they use more water and leaks may be less obvious on their water bills.”

How to Check Toilets
Small leaks that you can’t see can waste 10,000 gallons a year.
• Check for leaks by adding a few drops of food coloring in the tank.
• Put the lid back on and do not flush.
• Wait 15 minutes. If the color appears in the bowl, you have a leak and it’s most likely the flush valve or flapper.
• Flapper problems are fairly common. If the chain is too tight, it’ll keep the flapper slightly open and water will leak out of the tank. If the flapper is broken, the water level in the tank will keep dropping and it will sound like the toilet is constantly flushing.

How to Check Faucets
• First, see if the spout is dripping. If it is, you may need to tighten the handle’s adjusting ring.
• If that doesn’t work, you can shut off the water valves which are usually under the sink. Turn on the faucet to drain water from the line.
• Remove the screw cover on the faucet handle and use a screwdriver to lift off the actual handle. If your faucet has a hex screw, you’ll need to use an Allen wrench to remove it.
• After lifting the handle you’ll see a cap and adjusting ring. If water is leaking, tighten the ring with pliers. Check to see if that stopped the leak. If not, you may need to replace the faucet’s seats and springs or call a professional.

Donely’s website is if you need more tips or help. As always, if you need a referral for anything with your home away from home give us a call at 480-634-5000 or at our website

Scott Gaertner is an Associate Broker with Keller Williams Northeast, who for the past 25+ years has helped more people to find their lifestyle niche in the Scottsdale North area than anyone else. He also contributes his thoughts on lifestyle interests in the area. If you have something of interest in your community please contact us at [email protected]