I always go into a manic cleaning and organizing mode just before we leave to be gone for a long time. So our house is never in better shape than just before we leave. The entire house in Georgia has tile floors. I love tile - but wish I knew when we were putting it down what I do now about tile. We chose 16" tile for the kitchen, living and dining rooms. The first year we came back, we found a crack all the way across the floor where the slab had settled around an expansion joint.
We spent a week chipping up the tile and replacing it with new tile as we had enough of the original tile left to replace the dozen broken tile. To our dismay, when we returned the next fall, the new tile had cracked along the same line. So for a couple of years, we have tried various patches, covering with rugs, and other unsatisfactory fixes.
This year we tried something different - we once again went through the arduous process of chipping up the broken tile and every trace of thin set that we used to lay the tile and all the grout that had held the tile down.
This is not a project for the faint of heart - we had a layer of dust everywhere by the time the old tile was removed. We tried to match the tile in the entry way as the cracked tile fortuitously fell along a line between the kitchen and dining room.
Home Depot doesn't make it easy as they change all the tile colors every year, and it has been 6 years since we originally picked tile. We were able to get pretty close to the entry way colors, and they don't directly abut each other, so it turned out pretty good.
Another big maintenance job is finished - we should be on the road to Washington soon.