When the leaves start to change and the air gets chilly, cottagers across the province know what that means – it’s time to close up your home away from home for the winter.
Other than the obvious chores like getting rid of any food in the fridge and storing away your outdoor furniture and equipment, there are a few other items to check off the to-do list before calling it a season.
Shut off the water & drain pipes
- Make sure you shut off the main water supply and drain the pipes before you go to prevent them from freezing (and possibly bursting). After shutting off the water, turn on one of the faucets to makes sure that there is no water left in the pipes.
- If your cottage is winterized, you don’t have to worry about the pipes freezing as much, but if any pipes do pass through a cold zone such as a garage, crawl space or along a non-insulated wall, make sure they are wrapped with foam. If your cottage is not winterized, wrapping the pipes is a good precaution, especially if you plan to use it in the winter or early spring.
Check the septic tank
- If your cottage has a septic system, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s service recommendations and timelines. If your septic tank is due for checkup, get that done before winter so that it’s ready for next year.
Keep the sump pump going
- If your cottage has a sump pump, make sure it stays in good working order all winter long. You don’t want to be dealing with flooding issues when the snow starts to melt.
Inspect your roof
- Some cottages are in areas that get a lot of snow over the winter. Snow buildup can cause roofs to leak or even cave in, so take the extra time and effort to ensure your roof is in good shape to withstand the winter weather.
Get rid of fire hazards
- Pack up and remove loose paper products like books and newspapers, old rags, chemicals, and other items that could easily catch or spread a fire in the cottage.
Clean out cupboards
- When you’re ready to call it a season, pack up all food (even dry and canned goods) and take it home with you.
Turn heating down or off
- Cottages can have various heat sources. Depending on the system you have, make sure you turn it off safely and properly. Always turn off the gas and any space heaters when leaving, and if your cottage has a furnace you can either shut if off completely or set it to the lowest temperature to help minimize frost build-up over the winter.
Unplug major appliances
- While it might not be the best idea to turn off your entire power supply, it is advised to unplug individual appliances and/or turn off the power supply to those appliances at the electrical panel.
Clean your gutters
- Clogged gutters can cause water to back up under your shingles, leading to a leaky roof and ice damming. It’s a good idea to wait until most leaves have fallen to clean the gutters to ensure they’re clear for winter.
Check the exterior
- Inspect the outside of your cottage for any openings that small animals may be able to squeeze through. If you have a chimney, use a chimney cap or cover to stop unwanted visitors from getting in.
Closing up your cottage properly is key to making it through the winter without issues. Follow these tips and do a thorough check before leaving avoid surprises when you return.