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Closing your Cottage for Winter

Thursday, 31 October 2019

Summer is officially over, fall has begun, and winter is quickly approaching. If you don’t close your cottage for winter before it starts, you might be in for a rude welcoming next spring, so we’re here to give you some advice to avoid any damage to your cottage this winter.

Closing cottage checklist - Inspect the septic tank and sump pump

To start off, if your septic tank is due for a professional inspection, get it done before closing up for the season. Usually, your septic tank should be serviced every 5-8 years, or depending on the usage, every 3-5 years. For your sump pump, it is a good idea to keep it running to avoid coming back to a flood when the snow begins to melt. If there is a power outage, your sump pump could stop working and cause a flood. See about installing a generator for your sump pump incase the power goes out during the winter.

Drain the pipes and turn off the water

Draining the pipes helps prevent your water system from freezing. If you have any exposed pipes (running outside or against the exterior wall) wrap foam insulation around them. For the water system, you can turn off the power to your water heater and the main valve. Next, disconnect the intake and drain the water from the heater. Open all the faucets in the cottage to drain the remaining water. Once the pipes are empty, you can close all the taps, but leave the power to the water heater off.

Closing cottage checklist - clean the gutters and roof

Clean out your gutters after all the leaves have fallen off the trees nearby. This way, melting snow and rain can easily flow through and not get backed up. When gutters get backed up, it can cause water to build up under your shingles, then leading to a leaky roof. In addition, snow buildup on the roof can cause them to leak and even cave in, so make sure your roof is in good shape before winter comes. Repair any damaged or missing shingles and trim any overhanging branches that can dump extra snow and ice on your roof.

Keep critters outside

Try to keep the wildlife in the wild. Check the exterior of your cottage for any small openings you think any animals would be able to get into, this includes the chimney. Use a cap or cover to stop animals from getting in. Board up the windows to prevent them from eating through the screens to get in. This also helps protect against weather, or other potential break-ins. Inside the cabin, you should get rid of any garbage, and linens/sheets. These are very tempting for wildlife to get into, so stash the linens away, or bring them home with you.  Lastly, cover the mattresses and soft furniture with plastic to keep mice out.

Unplugging Appliances and Turning Down Heat

While turning off your power completely can cause your sump pump to stop working, you can prevent electrical fires by unplugging large appliances such as fridge, freezer, washing machine and dryer. This will also help cut down on energy that you won’t be using over the winter. You can turn your heat to around 10 degrees Celsius to help save energy. It is not recommended to shut the heat completely off because doing so can cause your pipes to freeze and burst. Keep the heat around this temperature and turn off the gas before leaving your cottage for the winter.

Closing your cottage for winter - don’t leave any food

Remember to clean out all the remaining food in the cottage. This includes canned or dry food and bottles of beer and wine. Make sure all the dishes are clean and sweep up any stray crumbs to prevent attracting mice and other rodents into your kitchen. Prop open the doors of the fridge and freezer to allow for air to flow and avoid mildew build up. You can put a box of open baking soda inside the fridge and freezer to soak up any odors that will accumulate over the winter.

Store away all outdoor items

Store any outdoor items out of sight, including, canoes, kayaks, picnic tables, gardening equipment, lawn mowers and barbeque. Make sure any gas-powered tools are empty and the blades are clean with a good coat of oil to protect them from rust. If you can, disassemble your dock and store it safely as well. Clean the barbeque and disconnect the propane tank; store them where they will be protected.  Empty any gas remaining in any boat motors or equipment and bring the gas with you and store it safely.

Closing your cottage for winter - Final Inspection

Before you leave for the winter, make sure you do one final inspection around the property of your cottage. Now is the time to assess any damage that you may have missed initially and take the opportunity to fix it before closing. Finally, lock everything and check all windows to ensure they are closed. Set an alarm if you have one and make sure anything of value is out of sight.

With all of this done, you are good to hit the road! Maintaining the property during the winter can help the longevity and reduce the risk of damage and making a claim. Make sure you talk to your insurance broker to see what you are covered for. We can always help with that! It’s better to be safe than sorry, especially when dealing with a property you only occupy seasonally.

By: Serenity Roberts