Robin Jade Conde

PODCAST: Vacant House Advice

What should you do with your house if you’re leaving for a long time? 

Reuben first talks about plumbing. He recommends turning the water off and keeping the house humidifier and water heater running. Tessa highlights how some homeowners misuse humidifiers. They also discuss avoiding sewer gas from leaking into the house as well as what doesn’t have to be done.

In terms of electrical, phantom loads can be unplugged. However, Ruben mentions that these loads are very minimal and he prefers not unplugging them and especially the wifi and the smart appliances. Then they talk about heating and recommend the proper home temperature. Reuben suggests installing a smart thermostat.

Lastly, they talk about other things to consider basic security things and others such as snow removal, and deliveries such as newspapers, mails, and packages. 

Access Reuben’s blogs here:

Q&A: “What should I do with my house if I’m leaving for a long time?” – Structure Tech Home Inspections

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The following is a transcription from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it may be slightly incomplete or contain minor inaccuracies due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.


Reuben Saltzman: Welcome to my house. Welcome to the Structure Talk podcast, a production of Structure Tech Home Inspections. My name is Reuben Saltzman. I’m your host alongside building science geek, Tessa Murry. We help home inspectors up their game through education, and we help homeowners to be better stewards of their houses. We’ve been keeping it real on this podcast since 2019, and we are also the number one home inspection podcast in the world, according to my mom. Alright, Tessa, so what’s happening in your world? What’s going on? What’s new? 


Tessa Murry: Hey, Ruben. Well, I guess the latest news, I just got back from a week trip to Florida, actually. It was very last minute. One of my friend’s brother died and they were flying up to Connecticut to go to the funeral and everything. And they have this dog who’s like their child, and they needed someone to watch the dog and watch their house while they were gone, and so I volunteered to do that. I’m like, “Sure, I’d be happy to come down to Florida in February in Minnesota to escape the cold.” And I had perfect timing, I was flying out the morning that the blizzard was moving in…


RS: Yes.


TM: So all these flights after mine got canceled and it was a disaster, I think., I made it out just in time. Yeah. And it was literally like 85 degrees and sunny the entire time I was there…


RS: Oh, my goodness.


TM: And they lived 10 minutes from the beach. So the dog and I, Mavis, spent lots of time on the beach together.


RS: Oh, that’s fantastic.


TM: And just soaking up the sun as much as I could.


RS: Yeah.


TS: So so that was pretty nice.


RS: You don’t look like you got a ton of color.


TM: Well, thank you so much for noticing. I used an SPF 50 and I was very responsible. [chuckle] No, I did get a little bit… I got a little bit of color, but I am so pale that that Florida sun was just gonna fry me if I didn’t wear sunscreen. And so I avoided actually the sun from like noon to two most days, and I just stayed inside, and then the rest of the time I was lathering on the sunscreen.


RS: Okay, alright. You’re much smarter than I am because I was in a warm climate recently and man…


TM: I was gonna ask you, tell me what you’ve been up to, Ruben, you’ve been busy, too.


RS: Well, I was out of town, we had a family vacation in Mexico and then I had a business thing in Puerto Rico and they were right next to each other, not intentionally, I didn’t plan this, but it ended up happening that way. So, lot of sun, lot of peeling skin. I am not as smart as you. I definitely did use the SPF 50, but not the first day on both days, I first had to.


TM: Oh, no…


RS: Get super burnt and then do it. So, yeah, I’m gonna deal with skin cancer at some point later on in my life.


TM: Skin cancer is a thing in my family, so that’s why I am extra cautious. But it is easy to… You just forget and you’re like, “Yes, sun, I haven’t seen this in so long.” And you stay out in it way too long, your skin isn’t used to it, next thing you know, you’re bright Red Lobster, so.


RS: Yes, yes. You know what, Tessa, I’m just reminded of something, I think it was the last podcast or maybe the one before where we were talking about doppelganger. And we identified your doppelganger and we put that in the podcast and we were joking around that I don’t have one, but I had a listener write in and he sent me an email and he said, Maybe I’ve got your doppelganger.” Now, I don’t totally see this, but I’m delighted with it anyway, ’cause it was one of my favorite movies of all time growing up.


TM: Well, what is it? What was it? 


RS: Alright, let me… I’ll tell you what it was. It was “Leon the Professional”. Did you ever watch that movie? 


TM: No, nope.


RS: Okay…


TM: I’m googling it right now.


RS: Okay, alright. Let me see if I can get this up on the screen here for us. Okay. So there we are, there’s “Leon the Professional and me.” I don’t totally see it, but there’s a little bit of a resemblance. What do you think? 


TM: That is kinda funny, maybe I can see it a little bit. It’s not perfect, but there’s some similarities maybe.


RS: Yeah. Did you ever watch that movie? 


TM: [laughter] No.


RS: No. Okay.


TM: I haven’t. But this was one of your favorites, you said? 


RS: Well, yeah, well worth a watch. It’s about this guy who is a hit man and I… [laughter] Now you know why I like it. He’s a hit man, and he ends up training this little girl to be a hit man.


TM: Oh, my God…


RS: She’s like 12 years old, and her family gets killed by these people and he ends up training her to be a hit man.


TM: Oh, my gosh.


RS: It’s a touching movie of…


TM: Touching.


RS: It really was, it was really a sweet movie, but yeah. Okay, alright, just had to share that, total, total tantrum.


TM: A hit man teaches a 12-year-old girl to kill people after her family’s murdered, it’s very sweet.


RS: It is. It is.


TM: It’s very sweet.


RS: They have a lot of moments together. Yeah…


TM: Oh, my gosh. Well, now I’m gonna have to watch it. I’ll put it on my list.


RS: Yep, yep.


TM: We’ll see.


RS: “Leon the Professional”.


TM: “Leon the Professional”. Hilarious. [laughter]


RS: Alright, so getting into some home-related stuff.


TM: What do you wanna talk about today? What’s the topic? 


RS: Well, today’s topic comes from a blog reader, I think, I can’t remember where this question came from, but the question was, what should I do with my house if I’m leaving town? If I’m gonna be gone for a few weeks, maybe a month or so, I’ve got a Minnesota home. What do I do to help make sure that it’s not gonna melt down, it’s not gonna turn into a winter wonderland, I’m not gonna have problems. What kind of stuff do you do in a cold climate when you’re leaving your house for a long time and this person…


TM: Yeah, that’s a good question.


RS: Yeah, they had suggested a bunch of things that, that they had heard, and I thought, “There’s gotta be a lot of good and bad information about what you should do out there,” so let’s talk about it.


TM: For sure. Well, this is kind of… This is gonna be fun. Are you… I’m assuming you’re writing a blog about this.


RS: You know it…


TM: Did you not make a link? 


RS: You know it, exactly.


TM: We can link… We can go now? Good.


RS: In fact, I’ve already posted, I posted this on February 21st, so if you wanna read along on these podcasts, sometimes we cover more, sometimes we cover less than what we intended to, but I got it broken down into kind of the different categories and probably number one two and three ought to be plumbing.


TM: Okay, yeah.


RS: I think that’s one of the things that can really go wrong with the house. Number one, when you leaving town, turn the water off. This is super quick, super easy. Every homeowner should know where their main water shutoff valve is. Go ahead and turn it off. If anything bad happens while you’re gone, you’re not gonna have a catastrophic leak.


TM: Now, would you recommend this, even if you’re not living in a place where the temperatures get below freezing and there’s potential for frozen pipes? 


RS: You know I would, yes.


TM: They’re bursting like, you’re talking about just anyone anywhere in general turn off the main water in your house.


RS: Good point, Tess. Absolutely, I don’t care if it’s Florida, wherever, if some pipe burst, if something ruptures, you’re not gonna have some nasty mess to come home to. I think it’s always a good idea to shut off the water when you’re gonna be gone for an extended period of time.


TM: Here’s another question for you, too, would you recommend then, after you turn off the water at the main, then letting the water run at the fixtures just to make sure all the pipes are empty? 


RS: I don’t think that’s critical, no.


TM: That’s not necessary? 


RS: No.


TM: Okay.


RS: You really don’t need to, there’s not gonna be much in there. I mean, If something does spring a leak, it’s gonna be pretty minor and if it’s in a cold climate, let’s say your furnace goes out and everything freezes, unless you’re actually gonna go through the trouble of winterizing your house, where you’re draining all the water out and you’re getting all of the water out of all of the traps, you’re still gonna have problems. My parents had that happen at their cabin once where the heat went out and they had shut off the water before they left, but the heat went out and I think both of the toilets ended up getting destroyed, because there’s still water on the toilets and then it ended up freezing…


TM: Wow.


RS: And kind of bursting.


TM: Oh, no.


RS: And so they still had some water damage to deal with, but I don’t think it was an insurance claim. It wasn’t that big of a deal.


TM: It wasn’t catastrophic, yeah? 


RS: Yeah. It was just kinda, “Oh, great, this is a mess, we’re gonna have to clean this up,” but not catastrophic. The one caution there though is that the one thing that might rely on water on a daily basis in a cold climate, cold dry house would be a whole house humidifier. Now here I’m defending a humidifier, what do you think about that, Tess? 




TM: Well, after spending a week in sunny Florida where the humidity is high, I have to say, coming back to Minnesota winter, it just feels so dry. It’s so brutal. So you’re catching me at an off-time where I’m actually feeling like I wish there was a little bit more humidity in the air. My throat is dry, my skin is getting dry. It impacts everything. I’ll say still in general, people misuse their whole-house humidifiers, and they can be dangerous for your house. You have to be really careful with them, but I understand why people use them.


RS: Yep. And if you’ve got, say, newer hardwood floors and you wanna keep them looking pristine and you gotta keep the humidity in the 30% to 40% range, if you shut off all the water to your house, your humidifier is not gonna be running. You do have the potential to have stuff dry out. So that’d be the one caution, the one thing to think about if you are gonna do this.


TM: You have really thought about this, that is impressive, Ruben, that didn’t even cross my mind, but yeah.


RS: I was just trying to think about what automatically uses water and that’s one of the few things you got in the house.


TM: True.


RS: I’m gonna consider if you’re gonna be gone for a long time, maybe a couple of months. We talked about the traps, you’ve got traps in your toilets and your sinks and all that. You do have the potential for that water to dry out after several months. And the purpose of the trap is to prevent sewer gas from entering in your house. And if all of that water dries out, sewer gas is gonna come in, what do you do? Well, there is a solution there and you take RV anti-freeze, it’s stuff you can buy at any home improvement store or fleet farm or whatever. And it’s not expensive, it’s probably, I wanna say $5 a gallon but since COVID, it feels like prices have doubled on everything so maybe $10 a gallon today.


TM: It does.




RS: But if you buy the…


TM: If you can find it, no.


RS: Yeah, you buy the stuff and you pour it into your traps and that’s what it’s for. It will not evaporate and it will not freeze. So if you’re gonna be gone for maybe more than a month, maybe you want to get some RV anti-freeze and pour that in your traps. Anywhere water goes down, your kitchen sink, your shower, your bathtub, your toilets, your bathroom sinks, all these different places. Pour some RV anti-freeze in there, not a critical thing but not a bad idea.


TM: We talked about that, yeah… And we talked about that in the past, too, with basement floor drains, a lot of times that don’t see a lot of water, they can dry out frequently, that it’s just a good idea to… You can pour some RV anti-freeze down those, too, so you don’t have sewer gases coming in. But one question I have for you is, is that stuff really harmful for the environment? You may not be able to answer that, but I just…


RS: I think it’s some type of alcohol as far as I know there is zero harm for the environment. It’s sole purpose is to do this. It’s not like you’re picking some other product that’s really meant to be doing this and then you’re just dumping in your drains. This is a product that’s specifically designed to go in your drains and I’m assuming not cause damage to the environment. I haven’t researched it to be honest, but I can’t imagine it to be harmful.


TM: Right. Yeah, we’re not coming… Okay. Well, yeah, I was just curious about that, so thanks for answering my question.


RS: Certainly, certainly.


TM: So turning off the water, pouring RV anti-freeze dump traps that might dry out if you’re gone longer than a few months. And then what else would you recommend? You said there’s three things, three plumbing things.


RS: You know that, that’s probably… Well, I just joke that this will be items one, two, and three on the list, is all…


TM: Gotcha.


RS: The plumbing is the most important. But couple of things, that I’ve heard, that I wanna just say you don’t need to do. One is flushing your toilets on a regular basis, I’ve heard that your seals might dry out if you’re not flushing your toilet regularly. I ran this by a few plumbers, I had never heard of such a thing. Ran this by a few plumbers and they all said, What you talking about, Ruben? No, that does not happen.” So.


TM: Alright, myth busted.


RS: Yeah, you’ve got wax rings or you’ve got synthetic rings on your toilets they’re not going to dry out and start leaking, you don’t need to worry about doing that, so just wanted to get rid of that myth.


TM: Good to know.


RS: And then, one other thing to think about, I don’t really have much of an opinion on this, would be turning down the temperature on your water heater. Water heaters all come… Gas water heaters, they got that setting called “Vacation”. And so if you’re going on vacation, it would make sense to turn it to the vacation setting. I don’t think you’re gonna save anything noticeable in your gas bill by doing that. I mean, let’s think about it, you’ve got groundwater in Minnesota coming in, it’s gonna be really cold. The average temp is like 45 degrees and we gotta bring it up to whatever you keep your water heater at, say 120 degrees. So that’s a big jump. But once it’s already brought up to there, the coldest it’s gonna get if you don’t do anything, is gonna be the temperature in your house, maybe 70 degrees. So all we’re really doing is making up that extra 50 degrees and once it gets hot, it stays hot for a long time. It takes a long time for that water to cool down. And when you don’t have cold water constantly entering from people using it, you’re not gonna have nearly as much demand.


RS: I would really like to do a long-term test. If I can get my hands on some type of gas flow meter, I would love to attach it to my water heater and just measure how much is actually used in a week, if nobody’s running water. Now, I’ll have to do if I’m on vacation or something, but I’d like to do something, but I suspect it’s gonna be a very minimal amount of gas that’s used. Not only that, but when you turn it down to that vacation setting, it’s gonna be 80 degrees or whatever it is, you’re gonna increase the potential for Legionella bacteria to grow in your water heater and that’s not a good thing. So I would prefer to just not have to think about that. Not risk it. When I leave town, I leave my water heater exactly the way that it is. I don’t touch it.


TM: If you were to turn your water heater back up, obviously when you get home, if you did put it on vacation mode, wouldn’t just that increased temperature cook the bacteria in the tank.


RS: I thought about that and I think it probably would, you’d probably need to crank it up all the way to high to kill everything. And I’m concerned that you’re gonna still have that bacteria in there and maybe it’s gonna have leached into the rest of the pipes.


TM: Sure.


RS: And it’s gonna be sitting somewhere between the water heater and the pipe. And then if you don’t use the fixture that that water goes to for a week, maybe it really will have festered and then you take a shower where it’s atomized and airborne. And I just think I don’t want to deal with all that. But…


TM: Yeah, and like you said, I mean, the water heater’s not going to be running that much, since no one’s home and no one’s using the water. What do you think? Like maybe 10 bucks for like a month of not using hot water and the gas just coming on periodically? 


RS: At most, I remember I did kind of a long-term test at my own house where I measured how much was being used at my own house during July. And this was at a time where my water heater was the only gas appliance I had. I had a gas stove too, but I wasn’t counting that just because I don’t use my stove much. I just assumed it all went to the water heater and you’ve got these fixed gas delivery charges like, seven bucks a month to have gas and then another three bucks for this. Once I added up the actual cost for the gas usage, it ended up being about 12 bucks a month that I was paying and that was living there.


TM: Wow, that was living there.


RS: Yeah.


TM: So probably safe to say less than $12 if you’re not using it at all.


RS: Probably so, probably now on the other hand, this was a decade ago, so prices have probably doubled since then, but still.


TM: Sure, okay, yeah, right. But a small price to pay if you don’t wanna have to even think about like potential bacteria growth and all of that happening, it’s not like you’re spending hundreds of dollars.


RS: Yeah, yep exactly.


TM: Okay.


RS: So I don’t mess with it, if you do turn it down, I don’t think it’s the end of the world. Probably a very slim chance of this bacteria growing anyway, but I’d rather not mess with it.


TM: Right. And what about people that have electric water heaters? ‘Cause it’s typically on those, it’s not as easy to adjust the temperature on a tank like electric water heater.


RS: Yeah, I wouldn’t even mess with it. I mean, on electric water heater…


TM: Don’t touch it.


RS: To adjust the temperature, you gotta unscrew those panels and then you gotta reach in there where you have live contacts and you gotta turn this knob, just leave it alone.


TM: Yeah, if you got electric, don’t touch it.


RS: And, I may have shared this anecdote on our podcast before. I’m sure I have, but Tess, I remember one time we went to my parent’s cabin and we always shut the water off when we leave and then who knows when we’re gonna be back. We come back to the cabin after having been gone for a week and we hung out all Friday afternoon, Friday evening, and then Saturday we’re doing dishes in the morning and we’re noticing the water’s not really that hot. It was hot on Friday, but it started to really cool down and I’m thinking, “There’s something wrong with the water heater, I gotta go check this out.” I go downstairs to check it out. The breaker was off, the breaker had been off for a week and we didn’t…


TM: Oh, my gosh.


RS: And the water was still that hot.


TM: You’re kidding.


RS: After having… Yeah.


TM: What? 


RS: From Sunday to Friday, the water was still hot. So hot that we didn’t even know that it was turned off and who knows how much longer it would’ve stayed hot had we not been running all this water filling the tank with cold water. Yeah.


TM: How big is the tank? 


RS: Oh, it’s one of those gigantic, it’s a Marathon 100-gallon tank…


TM: Oh, sure.


RS: Super insulated. It’s not your traditional 40 or 50 gallon tank, but still.


TM: Right, right. I can’t believe that your family over a week, it didn’t use all the water in the tank, 100-gallon tank.


RS: It didn’t. Yeah, it didn’t cool down.


TM: Yeah. Oh, my God.


RS: I couldn’t believe it either.


TM: That is amazing.


RS: Yeah. Maybe I didn’t explain it right. We left on a Sunday and then it sat unused all week and then we came back on a Friday. So it was…


TM: Ooh, Gotcha.


RS: It was a day’s worth of usage that led us to know that it’s cold.


TM: Okay. Right. You weren’t using the water, it was just sitting there in the tank and it stayed warm that entire time, because it was super insulated tank.


RS: Yep.


TM: That’s really interesting. Along those lines, and you might talk about this in your blog, but what do you feel are… What’s your recommendation about anything electrical? Should people turn things off in their panel at all? 


RS: Great question. And that’s something I didn’t cover in my blog, but I did have a listener write in or a reader, I should say, write in and suggested that that might be a good thing to do. He says that he likes to unplug everything that might use electricity. I think he said the refrigerator. Now, for me, I’m going to be leaving stuff in my refrigerator, I’m not touching that. But anything that might have kind of what they might refer to as a phantom load, where it’s a really small draw, like unplug your microwave, because you got a clock there, unplug the stove, unplug all these different things. My two cents on that is this phantom load is so minor. You remember we did a discussion recently about how much electricity are you using when you leave an LED light on all night? And that’s a laughably small amount, like two cent or something. So I’d say the time you take to unplug all this stuff is probably not worth your effort. I don’t do it. I wouldn’t do it.


TM: That would be another interesting test or a hypothesis, I’d like to see you do an experiment on someday.


RS: Oh, I could do it really easily. I’ve got that Sense Home Energy Monitor at my house.


TM: Oh, yeah.


RS: And I could go around my house and just shut off everything that’s a known power draw. And I’ll just leave all of my phantom stuff plugged in, and I’ll tell you how many watts it’s drawing. And then we’ll do the math and we’ll see what it actually costs you over a month. Look for that blog post.


TM: Yes, that will be very interesting.


RS: Okay.


TM: Very, very interesting. And you can put down too how many TVs and how many computers and kind of just give people an idea of the size of the house so they can compare theirs.


RS: Yeah. Although one thing I will say is the computer, go ahead and shut those off. Those do pull some power, no question about it.


TM: For anyone that has not seen Ruben’s workstation, do you want to describe what your command central station looks like? 


RS: I’ve got the three monitors and the mics and the cameras, and the… I’ve got a nice little set up there.


TM: The lights, everything. Yeah, yeah. And even your desk moves right? 


RS: I’ve got the sit-stand desk, which really has turned into a stand desk. I really don’t sit at it anymore. Yeah.


TM: The only thing you’re missing is a treadmill now, so you can just walk in place.


RS: That’s next, great idea, Tess.




TM: I can’t believe you haven’t done it already.


RS: I know. I really should. I really should. Alright, so the next one will be your heat. I strongly recommend for anybody, no matter what, get a smart thermostat. I love these things, and it’s not that big of a deal to install them. They come with really simple instructions on how to do it. And you pop this thing in, it’s connected to your Wi-Fi. And by the way, don’t unplug your Wi-Fi. You want your smart devices talking to you while you’re gone, but your thermostat can talk to you and we’ve got the Ecobee at my house. And when we leave, we’ve got these little things, you pull it up in the app on your phone and it says, “Alright, what type of alerts do you want?” And I’ve got it set. Well, if the temperature drops below 50 degrees, it’s going to send me a message. If it goes above 90 degrees, it’s going to send me a message. You can set it up, if humidity gets too low, you can send a message and you got all these little alerts or humidity gets too high, too. I should set that, I don’t have those set up. But, boy, if my humidity gets to 60 degrees or something, there’s probably a leak. There’s probably something really wrong.


TM: There something going on. Yeah.


RS: But I love the idea of having those. And go ahead and turn down the temperature at your house. What do you think is a safe temp to set it to, Tess? 


TM: Well, first of all, turn down your temp if you’re living in a heating climate, but if you’re living in a cooling climate, turn your temperature up, right? 


RS: Yeah, yeah exactly.


TM: Uh-huh. Just depending on where you’re at, to try and save energy. But I think, gosh, I guess that’s personal preference. You don’t obviously want your pipes to freeze or anything else to get damaged in your house. So I have 50s. Is that too cold? 


RS: That’s what I suggested. I said somewhere in the neighborhood of 55 is probably a good, safe temperature.


TM: Okay. Yeah.


RS: Now, the one caution I’d have is that if you’ve got your house on the edge of a cliff and I guess I should define that. If you’re right on the edge of things not performing right at 70 degrees, this could push it over the edge and you could have problems. And I bring that up, because there was somebody’s house that a bunch of people at the StructureTec team volunteered and did some work at. And this woman’s house, she had a frozen water-line going to her dishwasher and the water-line just passed really close to an outside wall that apparently was really poorly insulated. And even though she kept her house at 70 degrees, there was kind of a cold snap and her water-line froze. So, if you were to take her house and drop it down to 55 degrees, even during…


TM: The pipe has no chance.


RS: Cool weather, yeah, yeah, it’s going to freeze. So you are getting closer to having problems when you make any changes like that, but properly built house, properly insulated walls, all that, you shouldn’t have any problems with dropping the temp down to 55 degrees and you’ll save some money on your heating bills.


TM: Yep, that’s a really good point that you make, Ruben. Every house is going to be different and the contents in your house are going to be different, too. So it’s up to you to decide.


RS: Yep, I’d say the last category I filed under “no, duh”. These are just kind of common sense things, but I’ll throw out a couple of reminders, a couple of recommendations for people. One of them is… If you’re in Minnesota or a cold climate, think about snow removal. Because nothing says, “We’re on vacation and there ain’t no one living here” like a driveway with no footprints and no tracks when it hasn’t snowed for several days, that makes it really clear, there’s nobody living there.


TM: Right, right.


RS: Think about snow removal. Another would be having some automatic timers on some lights. Have some lights turn on at dusk, in the dead of winter, it’s dark at 5:00, when all the lights are off all night, that looks pretty obvious that there’s nobody living there.


TM: Yeah.


RS: If you’ve got mail, make sure your mail isn’t coming. This is just so, “no duh”.


TM: Yeah.


RS: If you get the newspaper… Who still gets the newspaper, Tess? 




TM: There are people, a lot of people are reading things online and digitally, but occasionally I’ll see newspapers laying out.


RS: Yep. If you get the newspaper stop your newspaper delivery, don’t let it pile up in your porch. I’ve got the cover of this blog post was a photo I took. It must have been 20 newspapers stacked in somebody’s porch. At some point, wouldn’t the delivery person stop? Like, just stop putting it there.


TM: It’s their job. They have one job, and they’re doing it well.


RS: I’ll tell you what, my first real job was delivering newspapers. And even at 13 or 14 years old, whatever it was, I knew that if I came to a house and there’s already three newspapers, don’t give them a fourth, just stop, knock it off. They’re not going to complain. And it makes it look bad. So I knew that when I was a kid. I would hope newspaper delivery people today would know that, but who knows? 


TM: How long did you do that job, Ruben? 


RS: If it was more than a day, it was too long.




RS: That was the worst job. It’s the only job that I didn’t enjoy. I’ve enjoyed every other job since. But that was dreadful, because my dad and my brother and I would get up at like three or four in the morning, we’d go to the station.


TM: That’s not any different than your normal life though.


RS: Well, I’m a little older now. At the time I was in junior high and…


TM: Don’t you Saltzmans wake up at like four in the morning? 


RS: We do. We are early risers, but at the time it was very unnatural. And so, we’d have sleepovers, whatever, we’d have friends over and my dad would come wake us up and then we’d go stuff newspapers at the station, and then we’d deliver them. And for what we got paid, it was like, it was some of the worst money I ever had. And my dad, what a fantastic person for doing this with us. Like, he just did it for free, and my brother and I got all the money for it. He was just helping us have a job and earn some income. It was so great of him. But looking back, it just… I’d rather do almost anything than that.


TM: You know what it taught you something very important though.


RS: What, tell me? 


TM: Hard work for… And then appreciating just… That money doesn’t grow on trees and so…


RS: Yeah, you’re right, Tess. And it made me appreciate every other job I’ve had since so much more.


TM: Exactly. The bar is set very low.


RS: Yes.


TM: Yeah.


RS: Yes, exactly. Although I will say…


TM: In a valuable experience.


RS: We’re talking about now, I just gotta share, one of my fondest memories was a snowstorm of 1991, where it snowed over Halloween for like three days, and we got about at three feet of snow. And that was one of our first weeks ever delivering newspapers, and we were the only ones at the station, and we were trudging through that snow, like three feet of snow, whatever it was, and we brought everybody’s newspaper to their house. We got it done, and it was actually kind of fun, it was a lot of work.


TM: Oh, my God.


RS: Took us a couple hours to do our delivery, but it was a fun time.


TM: That’s amazing. Did you normally do it on a bike or did you walk? 


RS: No, my dad had a suburban and we’d throw all the newspapers in there. My brother and I would stand on the rails on the outside and he’d drive us from kind of block to block and we’d just hang on the sides and kind of surf.


TM: Oh, my gosh. Your dad is amazing. He drove you on your newspaper route.


RS: Yeah. Yeah. He was all about it.


TM: He was the best dad ever.


RS: For sure. For sure. Eternally grateful for all that time spent.


TM: That is epic.


RS: Yeah. Alright.


TM: Well, okay. Sorry I took us off topic.


RS: No, it’s okay. It’s fun story.


TM: But just basic security things. I appreciate you thinking about that, ’cause, yeah, when you’re gone for a long time, you wanna make sure your house is secure and people don’t target it. And so, yeah, think about snow, think about deliveries, all of that.


RS: Yeah. And the other obvious stuff, like take your trash out before you leave. Figure out who’s gonna take your trash out to the street and put your bins away. And don’t leave perishable food sitting on your counters or in your fridge. Just the really obvious stuff. I’m not going to…


TM: The basics.


RS: Get a big list of that, but…


TM: The basics.


RS: That’s really all I can think of. I racked my brain on what else you could do. I couldn’t come up with anything else. You got anything, I’m missing, Tess? 


TM: Man, if you’ve racked your brain. No, I think you’ve covered all the really important stuff. I think the main things people… I’m used to people asking about is plumbing mainly. Plumbing and you know what do… Is this something we need to worry about? And then maybe some electrical things, too. So I’m glad you covered that and it’ll be good to have a blog to direct people to and ask those question.


RS: I need two of them. I need one on phantom loads. What’s all this coming up to? 


TM: Yes.


RS: And then I need one on what does your water heater actually use sitting stagnant? But if any listeners got any ideas on where I could find a little meter to measure how much natural gas is being used at one appliance, I don’t know where to find that. That’s it.


TM: Please help us.


RS: Shoot me an email. Okay. Email the show


TM: Yes. Perfect.


RS: Alright, cool.


TM: Well, very good.


RS: We’re done.