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Tips for Closing the Cottage

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Tips for Closing the Cottage

Tips for Closing the Cottage

Summer in Canada is brief, but the memories made at the cottage during those leisurely, sunny days are indelible, and they last a lifetime. As Thanksgiving approaches, many of us sigh. Time to accept that winter is on its way -- and that means that it’s time to close the cottage. You may have to do some strenuous or risky tasks when you close up your summer home. These might include climbing a ladder to clean eavestroughs, fix broken shingles, put on a chimney cap, or fasten shutters over the windows. Make sure that you are fit and know how to perform the job before you begin, and don’t forget to let someone else know what you’re doing. Have a friend or family member nearby, or arrange to check in with a friend once the task has been completed. (If something goes wrong, you’ll want to know that help will arrive.)

 

 

Electrical and Plumbing

Many cottage owners turn off the electricity and the water for the winter. Here are some safety tips for dealing with those tasks:

  • Unplug or turn off all appliances before you switch off the power.

     

  • Turn off the individual breakers (or remove fuses) before you flip the main switch. This way, your major appliances (including the pump and hot water tank) will be protected when you turn the power back on in the spring.

     

  • Drain the plumbing system to prevent pipes from freezing or bursting, and blow compressed air through the system. Drain your water tank after turning off its power supply. Make sure there’s no water left in the washing machine or dishwasher. Add antifreeze to areas that can’t be completely drained.
  • Don’t forget to leave your fridge door ajar to allow it to air out.
  • Store your extension cords in rodent-proof and leak-proof containers. If possible, store them somewhere where they won’t be subjected to freezing temperatures, which can cause them to crack. (Check them before use in the spring.)
  • Before leaving in the fall, check to make sure that no tree branches are too close to overhead power lines. Hire a professional to trim trees, or advise your utility company.

If you plan to leave the electricity on during the winter, you should:

  • Go through each room and unplug all unnecessary electrical devices.

     

  • Switch off breakers or cut off power sources for the pump and the hot water heater, as well as for any space heaters, which can pose a fire hazard.

     

  • Turn your thermostat down to 5 - 7°C, which will keep pipes from freezing. If your thermostat is digital, be sure to put in fresh batteries.

     

  • If you have a sump pump, you will probably want to check on it periodically during the winter (or have someone else check it.) Otherwise, flooding may occur and could cause damage.

 

 

Securing the Property

Of course, you’ll have many other chores to perform as you close the cottage, including those that will help to keep your property safe over the winter. These might include:

  • Keeping pests out. Use a chimney cap to keep birds out. Check for any small openings where rodents might be able to enter, replacing the caulking around windows and doors if necessary, and plug small cracks and holes with steel wool. Clean out the fridge and cupboards (even canned and dried foods) so that insects and animals are not attracted to the smell of food. Cover furniture with plastic or drop sheets.

     

  • Septic tank. If you have a septic tank, be sure that you have followed the manufacturer’s guidelines for servicing, and if you are unsure about its condition, have a professional inspect it. Avoid any spring surprises!

     

  • Check for fire hazards. Pick up any loose papers, old rags, etc, that might catch fire. Remove flammable chemicals or gasoline products.

     

  • Furniture and equipment. Securely store your patio furniture, bicycles, and equipment such as the lawnmower, gardening tools, and barbecue in a secure shed. If you have rowboats, canoes, paddle boards, and pedal boats, make sure they’re stored somewhere dry and secure.

Take photos of the cottage and contents before you leave, in case you need to make an insurance claim. (And of course, make sure that your insurance premiums are paid.) Some cottage owners install a security system that can alert police in the case of a break-in, or ask a year-round neighbour to do a periodic inspection of the property.

 

Finally, make sure to leave enough time to do all of the necessary chores. Accidents often happen when cottage owners are rushing. It’s best to begin several days before you plan to leave – that way if you discover a problem, you’ll have time to find a solution.

 

Closing the cottage is a task we may rue, but it’s important to do it thoroughly and safely.  Follow these tips for closing the cottage, to ensure next summer will also be filled with golden memories!

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Tips for closing the cottage help you and your property to stay safe. Learn more about good practices.