As bathing suits and sunscreen are replaced by hoodies and jackets, cottage closing season has arrived for those who own a recreational cottage. While it would be fantastic to stay and never leave the cottage, many are built only for three seasons and need to be prepared for Winter. The following are 10 Items to Add to Your Cottage Closing Checklist. Some are obvious, others not so much, but all will be useful, especially to those closing their cottage for the first time.
1. Inspect Roof
Winter can be tough on your roof, especially when experiencing fluctuations in temperature, after heavy snowfall, and during Spring thaws. Take time to inspect the health of your roof. Replace/repair any missing shingles. Clean eaves troughs and downspouts so they are clear of debris, allowing for proper water drainage. Also consider adding supports to overhangs or sheds for snow load.
2. Survey Trees and Branches
Ice storms can wreak havoc on your property, especially a heavily wooded cottage lot. Inspect all trees on property and around buildings. Trim dead or dangerously hanging limbs to protect against snow load, ice, and storms.
3. Shut Off and Drain Plumbing
If hydro is turned off or you’re not planning on using the cottage during Fall and Winter months, drain the water tank and the entire system completely. Drain the hot water tank, water purifiers, washing machine, dishwashers, water pumps, toilets, and all water lines complete. Pour plumbing antifreeze (as per product instructions) in toilets, washer, dish washer, and all plumbing traps. Disconnect washer lines.
4. Kitchen: Pack out ALL Food
The last thing you want to see when returning to your cottage in the Spring is the remains of a season long party, enjoyed by area rodents and critters. Pack out ALL food, including bottles, cans, anything that will freeze. Check all “Best Before Dates” and get rid of expiring product. Store anything left in glass or metal containers.
5. Defrost and Clean Refrigerators / Freezers
Turn all appliances OFF. Clean, defrost, and sanitize. Prop open doors and place a box of baking soda (open) to control and potential odours upon your return.
6. Address Fire Hazards
When you’re away from your cottage for an extended period, response time to a potential fire is left up to the surrounding wildlife, which isn’t typically capable of calling 911. Reduce the possible fire hazards by getting rid of old papers, boxes, rags, and old clothes. Unplug all appliances. Turn off utilities.
7. Heating System
If hydro is left on set thermostats to 10 degrees Celsius or install low temperature thermostats and set at 5 degrees Celsius to prevent freeze ups. Back up heat and electrical in case of power outages with an automatic generator. Have a professional inspect your generator and top up fuel/propane levels for the Winter.
8. Fireplace / Woodstoves / Chimneys
There is nothing quite like a natural wood burning stove or fireplace, as long as you take care of them. Have a professional WETT certified technician inspect creosote levels in chimneys. Block off flues and close dampers. Block pipes to prevent bird/rodent entry.
9. Cover your Windows
Keep thieves guessing…they’ll likely move on. Deter thieves by closing blinds & curtains. Possibly use bed sheets if the windows are large. Take valuables home with you for the Winter. You know what they say, “Out of sight, out of mind.”
Those area trouble makers may still be curious, wanting to break in and take a look inside your cottage for themselves. Consider having a professional security system installed if not existing already. Contact the security company and inform them of your departure for the season. Set up and call three key holders with access to a lock box hidden on the property. It’s a great idea to have a neighbor watch your property. Keep thieves guessing, install timers on select interior lights, install motion sensor exterior lights near entrance or driveway.
When closing (or opening) your recreational cottage for the season, there are many items you can cross off the “To Do List” by yourself. But, there can be a number of items where hiring a professional is a great idea. Area Restoration Contractors, Plumbers, Electricians, and other trades are experts in their respective fields. Local trades are well versed in what is required by cottage owners. Give them a call…they’re here to assist.