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SempreMare

Before walking out of the house list: Air Conditioner Temp?

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Posted (edited)

Question for those who cruise and

- leave the house empty of people and pets

- do not have a house sitter

- live in a HOT climate

 

What temp do you set your air conditioner before leaving?

 

Related accomplishment of the week:    (related to what to do before leaving and making the house less disaster-prone while on vacation)

 

1) I had a plumber upgrade my whole house water shut off valve near the street from the type on top in picture below to the type on bottom (a ball valve).

image.png.e51ef9bbc90d1c43547ea4aef4cfd746.png

 

This was not without excitement.  Plumber cut through the neighbor's cable wire, cutting all TV and phone to neighbor.  Neighbor was not happy. 

Plumber left the problem for me to fix with the cable company.  All 4 hours before I was presenting via WebEx to 200 people.

 

My motivation in doing this:  A different neighbor's house developed a water leak while they were away for a week.  First level totally flooded.   They have been out of their house for 6 months so far.   I now turn off the water to my house before leaving on work trips.   That new valve makes it 10,000 times easier to turn off the water.  

 

I've encountered a variety of water leaks, but nothing like my neighbor experienced while away.  Ex: 

-  1 day after a plumber installed the water softener, it developed a water leak that shot a hole through my garage ceiling and flooded the room adjacent to my garage.  That much fun should be illegal.

- 20 year old under-kitchen sink reverse osmosis system developed a leak in the manifold 2 months ago.  This leak cleverly skirted the cookie tray I had placed under the main sink plumbing AND the inexpensive $10 water leak sensor from Home Depot that squawks when the sensor touches water.  

 

On the good, this recent kitchen area !@#$ leak spurred me to do a sink-area complete changeout (new faucet,   sink,  RO faucet and RO system with a permeate pump to make it more efficient / less of a water hog, and last but not least, a Bosch 2.5 gallon mini-tank water heater under the sink) giving an immediate 2.5 gallons of very warm / hot water for my dishwasher or kitchen sink hand / veggie washing.  Washing hands now is like getting an immediate warm hug instead of just cold water unless I wait 15 seconds while wasting a lot of water. 

(I think I have found a better plumber.  He refused to install in what he described as the unsafe way that most of the people who posted DIY pictures on the Amazon product page did it.  He connected the pressure release valve via copper to the outside of the house.  I thought that part would be a big deal but it took < 30 min and a special drill.)

 

Trying to learn from other people's situations and my own, I now have: 

 

1)  Flood Stops installed on the instant water heater in my attic, my water softener, and washing machines.  The guy who invented them and who owns the company responds delightfully quickly to email questions.   These HAVE been tested and passed: 

- the first fix from my first water softener plumber resulted in another leak.  

- my Navien instant hot water condensation pipe became clogged and water backed up into the tray where the sensor was.  The Flood Stop shut off the water, and my WiFi water sensor flashed an alert on my phone.

 

2)   WiFi water sensors near those appliances and under my kitchen sink.  I now have these under every sink and near the Hoshizaki (Sonic-type) ice maker.

 

3)  An under-sink kitchen cabinet mat in my kitchen my new plumber told me about

 

4) The cheap water leak sensors behind all toilets

 

Like the author of that valve article says, 

"Since water inherently wreaks havoc on every aspect of your plumbing system, having the proper valve in place will help “delay” problems down the road. I use the term “delay” instead of “prevent”, simply because when it comes to plumbing, problems will ALWAYS arise, it’s just a matter of how soon."

Edited by SempreMare

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10 minutes ago, SempreMare said:

What temp do you set your air conditioner before leaving?

I live in New England where it gets hot enough, and humid, but I realize other parts of the country have higher temperatures.
Anyway, when I left for three weeks mid-June through the first week of July. I left the A/C set to 76ºF. I turned it back to 72ºF within seconds of arriving home.

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Thanks  @RuthC, that's what I typically set it to.   

 

Then I was thinking, "why shouldn't I set it to 85 degrees?"  from an energy savings perspective.

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My husband, who was in the HVAC business, used to tell me to set the A/C and leave the dial alone. He said it took more energy to cool the house back down than to leave the house at the same setting. Turning heat down at night was all right; for some reason it's different. I don't pretend to understand, but it works for me.
So, for a 3-week absence, I do want it higher, but I don't want the house unbearable when I get home.

It was uncomfortable when I got in (at 2:20AM!), but it cooled down in a reasonable amount of time, and I was able to sleep.

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Assuming you don't have outdoor landscaping if you are turning off the water that far from the house? We would require a plumber to separate our landscaping water from our house water. We have discussed it, but haven't followed through. In our area of California, as we get zero rain 7-9 months of the year, while the water to the house can be off, the water to the sprinkler systems must be left on.

 

Our temps can be in the 90s, 80s is average. We don't have A/C, so no issues there. But we shut down a lot of stuff...unplug TVs, computers, appliances, turn off toilets, washer water, etc. Saves 20-30% on our electric bill, ( a little more on longer vacations) and we agree, a water leak could be devastating...

 

 

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Posted (edited)

@RuthC  that's a good point re: >> He said it took more energy to cool the house back down than to leave the house at the same setting. 

 

I fixed that situation (hot when arriving home) via acquiring Nest thermostats last Thanksgiving / Black Friday.   I now lower the thermostats when the plane lands.   

 

I made this change this only after doing a TON of review reading and talking with my geek friends to convince myself that it would

1) still work during an internet outage   

2) act like a normal thermostat all the time (walk up and turn the dial)

since in Texas a flaky thermostat = no cooling = death.

 

I love the convenience of making it cooler before sleeping at night or taking a nap: 
"Hey google set downstairs to 72 degrees"

" Hey google what is the downstairs temperature"  (queries the built-in temp sensor)

 

Beyond all that, just this summer, googling an error situation the Nest displayed on my phone helped me immediately get an HVAC pro who fixed my AC condensate drain clog.  Just when I was about to use swear words about regretting the installation and give grief to my friends who talked me into it,  searching on the error message made me realize the NEST thermostat was actually displaying on my phone the correct info that my AC was sending to it about a problem situation.

Edited by SempreMare

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Posted (edited)
25 minutes ago, CruiserBruce said:

Assuming you don't have outdoor landscaping if you are turning off the water that far from the house? We would require a plumber to separate our landscaping water from our house water. 

 

On my "14 days out" countdown list, I have a ToDo to run a cycle from the Rachio sprinkler system from my iPhone at midnight on the night before leaving.  Then I tap a "skip cycle". 

 

But @CruiserBruce that's a great point. If a leak happens in the landscaping system, it would just flood the yard, right? 

I wish I had my plumber do that when he replaced the outdoor water access valve. 

 

from the list I add something new to for every trip: 

Before walking out the door for < Alaska > , remember to:

Clean eyeglasses  
Synthroid in carry-on?  (misbehaving thyroid surgically removed eons ago)
2 bags of ice in freezer, and Hoshizaki Ice maker OFF
Water OFF 
Rachio sprinkler skip added? 
Disposer switch to under sink mini tank water heater OFF
Heat to 65 or AC to 78
Camera ON
Security system ON
If work trip, have badge and work credit card? 

Airplane food
Back up drive in safe
Guns in safe
Power adaptor for Thinkpad
Power adaptor for MacBook
$2 dollar bills in purse for tipping
Shopping bag in carry on 

Edited by SempreMare

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We turn air up to 79, turn water off at toilets, washer and sinks. We also run water into all sinks and tubs to ensure the traps have some water. Living in TX we don’t turn main water valve off due to our irrigation system for lawn / gardens. Haven’t had any issues yet!

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1 minute ago, freestyling said:

We also run water into all sinks and tubs to ensure the traps have some water. 

 

What does that do? 

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Plumber said it will keep the gasses from septic system from entering up the plumbing system. 

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So you run the water into the sink or tub and then... pull the stopper? 

Or just run the water? 

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Posted (edited)

Run water to ensure the p-trap has water in it and then close drain or put in stopper. We have never cruised more than 40 days or gone more than 50 days and have not had any issue yet. Before we did this we would return home and have quite a smell in the bathrooms! 

Edited by freestyling

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I will generally adjust the temperature by only 5 degrees. If things get too hot or cold, it will take too long to get back to a comfortable temperature when arriving home, as RuthC noted.

 

I used to always shut off water to the washing machine, but since the house we live in now is only 2 years old I take the chance that it will be okay. Especially since the hoses are stainless steel wrapped.

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Posted (edited)

We use Ecobee.  We live in hot and steamy Virginia so I have the away mode set to 75.  As soon as it senses we’ve returned it reverts back to home mode which is set to 74.  (At night it drops down to 68.) I have vacation mode set to 80 on the main floor (82 on the system upstairs) but program it to begin cooling about an hour before our arrival.  I do all this from the app.

Edited by *Miss G*

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Posted (edited)
12 hours ago, SempreMare said:

My motivation in doing this:  A different neighbor's house developed a water leak while they were away for a week.  First level totally flooded.   They have been out of their house for 6 months so far.   I now turn off the water to my house before leaving on work trips.   That new valve makes it 10,000 times easier to turn off the water. 

 

Happened to my across-the-street neighbor while he was on a cruise (Princess 🙁).  He had to be out of the house for about 3 months while damage was being fixed.  Strangely, none of us neighbors saw water coming out from under the house -- even though the inside was flooded. 

 

So did I learn from his experience? Nooooo!  Two years later I was on a cruise (HAL 🙂) and a pipe under my water heater failed.  Fortunately, neighbors saw water so quickly that they were able to call city utilities and have water turned off before much damage done.  Yes, I have learned since then. 

Edited by Av8rix

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I find this fascinating. We live in KY and it gets hot here in the summer. Our A/C is set at 78 degrees all summer long.  We never move it.

We haven't left during the summer, so we've never faced the issue of what to do with the A/C, but I suspect we'd run it way up, or even turn it off entirely if we were going to be gone for a long time.  A/C is not necessary to keep your house from falling apart (we lived without it for a very long time).

And oddly enough, we spent 10 years living in Alaska, so we're not exactly hot weather lovers.

Winter is another story. We're leaving this winter in mid-Dec and not returning until late March. I'm trying to figure out where to set the heat pump.  In AK, we had a temperature sensor that would turn on a light in a window visible by our nearest neighbor if the temperature in the house went below wherever we set it.  And we'd set it LOW (like 45 degrees or so), just enough to be sure that the pipes didn't freeze.   This time, we have a friend who will be at our house daily to care for livestock, and he'll check the house, but there is still no need for it to remain warm.

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11 hours ago, freestyling said:

Run water to ensure the p-trap has water in it and then close drain or put in stopper. We have never cruised more than 40 days or gone more than 50 days and have not had any issue yet. Before we did this we would return home and have quite a smell in the bathrooms! 

 

For a long cruise, it is a good idea to Plastic Wrap the toilet bowl to slow down evaporation of the water. Also we put something over the shower drain to cover it up.

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11 hours ago, SempreMare said:

. 

 

I fixed that situation (hot when arriving home) via acquiring Nest thermostats last Thanksgiving / Black Friday.   I now lower the thermostats when the plane lands.   

 

I made this change this only after doing a TON of review reading and talking with my geek friends to convince myself that it would

1) still work during an internet outage   

2) act like a normal thermostat all the time (walk up and turn the dial)

You need better geek friends.

Will a Nest thermostat work without Internet?
Yes, the Nest can be installed and work without Internet. It misses out on remote control, and other integrations, but it will still work as an algorithmically learningthermostat.
 
So, yes it will still work, but you will not be able to change the settings via the cell phone app if the internet is down at your house.
11 hours ago, SempreMare said:

 

 

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We ALWAYS turn off the incoming water supply for the while house when we travel. Costs nothing and is cheaper than water damage repairs.    In current house, we are lucky to have that shut off valve in the unfinished daylight/walkout basement.  At our last home, we used a T-bar to turn off at the meter.

 

Living in the hot and humid south, we set the AC two degrees warmer when gone, set the heat five degrees colder.  Otherwise it takes forever to come back up to speed.

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1 hour ago, cowmilker said:

Our A/C is set at 78 degrees all summer long.  We never move it.

We haven't left during the summer, so we've never faced the issue of what to do with the A/C, but I suspect we'd run it way up, or even turn it off entirely if we were going to be gone for a long time.  A/C is not necessary to keep your house from falling apart (we lived without it for a very long time).

After 39 years in FL we've become acclimated to heat, so we keep our a/c at 79 all summer when home, and 85 when away. It only takes a couple of hours to get the house back down to normal after we get home.

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I am surprised  that you do not have some clause in your house insurance that requires someone to check on your home  every so many days ours require a human to check every 72 hrs

 

That said  we went shopping one day came home to find the hot water tank  had started to leak  only  half the tank  had made it out to the floor  so we were lucky to discover it  when we did

it was in an unfinished part of the basement  so only a few boxes were  damaged

 

We have shut offs  on the  pipes to/from  the tank when we do go on vacation  they are turned off

There is  a shut off  at the Main before the meter inside our basement  (I know in the USA those are rare)  but we rarely turn it off when away  as we do have someone come for the plants

Some good tips  for those  that do not  have someone to check their homes

 

We set the A/C  at 80F   when away in the summer  & furnace at 65- 67F in winter months

 

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

If you freeze a cup of water and place a cold quarter on top of the ice and put the cup in your freezer, it can alert you if your electric power was off for any length of time while you are away.

 

When you come home, check to see that the coin is in the same spot, on top of the ice as when you left your house.  If it has sunk to the middle or bottom of the cup, it means that your electric was off for a while, and stuff in your freezer could have defrosted and then froze again like the ice in the cup.

 

If you have lots of blinking digital clocks, that will tell you the same thing, but sometimes those things reset themselves.

Edited by evandbob

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The thermostats on our recently upgraded and new HVAC systems included an App on my iphone so I can adjust temps from anywhere. Nice. 

We had a few of the ball valve handles on outside faucets, but after a season or two, they developed drips. My plumber said they are no longer allowed in MA because the little ball inside is plastic and highly prone to cracking in extreme cold. OK inside, but not outside where I really liked the ease of turning off and on the spigots. 

My HWH has a sensor in the drip pan if it detects a leak. Plus when we go away, I shut off the water to the fridge and the intake to the HWH. In winter I tend to keep the house at 58-60 if we are away for an extended period, while in summer, I set the central A/C to 80. We have a wonderful neighbor who checks the house daily while we are away. We do the same for him when he travels. 

Also have a while house generator because we live in a very high power outage area and going away in the deep cold of winter would be worrisome for frozen pipes or spoiled food in the freezer/fridge.

 

Darcy

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Posted (edited)

We turn the HVAC completely off (freezing not an issue here).   Water to the house is closed.  Irrigation is on a separate main valve.  Our town has a vacation watch program with the local PD so house is patrolled routinely.  Even more important, neighbors keep an eye out for each other.   I'm happy to be in a town that is among the lowest crime rates in California.  

Edited by ldubs

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