Financial experts often say that buying a home is the single greatest investment most people will ever make in their lifetime. In fact, for so many Canadians, owning their own home is a bucket list goal of the highest order!
And if you are like many of us, after your primary residence, your second biggest investment is a seasonal cottage. Seasonal cottages are so much fun! You spend all winter dreaming of Victoria Day weekend when you open up your cottage for the warm season. Then you spend the end of summer dreading the moment we have arrived at now—cottage closing time.
Protecting your second biggest investment isn’t as much as enjoying it, for sure, but it will pay off in the spring when it is time to enjoy your cottage once more. In this timely post, we share our top tips for closing your cottage up safe and sound until the warm weather returns!
Fall Cleaning & Cottage Safety Checks
Fall cleaning may seem redundant for a space that will be unoccupied for several months, but it actually serves a very important safety function in addition to its obvious sanitation perks.
As you are cleaning each interior area of your cottage, you can also be inspecting each power outlet, looking for signs of mould or mildew, scanning for possible entry points for insects or small animals and identifying cracks or leaks that may need weather stripping or sealing before winter arrives.
You may want to get a roll of construction tape and tear off small bits to mark each place you find that needs further attention before you close up your cottage completely. Gather up all flammable materials and rags to remove from the premises before closing.
Do the same around the outside of your cottage, paying special attention to gutters, downspouts, air and exhaust vents, roofing, outside storage sheds and wires or cables.
Power On or Power Off? That Is the Question
Your biggest cottage closing decision is likely to be whether to keep your cottage power supply on or turn it off completely.
Today, many cottage owners opt for a compromise: they keep the main power on to run the security system and a low level of heat to help avoid frozen pipes.
As you will notice in our Cottage Closing Checklist, the decision of whether to turn the power off or leave it running influences what you do with each major system and appliance in your cottage.
If you have a sump pump or security system you need to leave on, this will be a no-brainer: you will want to leave your power on.
However, if you do leave your power on and you rely on electric power to run either system, be sure to incorporate a standby generator to serve as a backup in case of a power outage.
Otherwise, you may find it easier to simply switch the power off.
Drain the Water & Protect Your Pipes
After tackling the power question, your next major cottage closing task will be draining the water and protecting your pipes from freezing.
Water damage, whether from burst pipes, a backed-up sump pump or some other reason is responsible for some of the most costly and catastrophic damages seasonal cottages can sustain!
So if you have never closed up a seasonal cottage before this year, it can be wise to take the help of a professional to walk you through this part of the closing process.
Every single appliance and system that uses water will need to be drained and dried. From the toilets and septic system to the refrigerator, dishwasher, clothes washer, water pump and hot water heater tank, you will want to ensure no water remains inside pipes or hoses to freeze, expand and burst.
Adding some non-toxic (RV) antifreeze to your traps and drains adds an extra layer of precaution against freezing. You will also want to ensure pipes are wrapped and insulated against freezing temperatures and storms.
Address Your HVAC System
It is important to protect any outdoor components of your cottage air conditioning and heating system against winter’s harsh weather. After giving each unit a good exterior cleaning and clearing away debris to a three-foot perimeter, consider adding a top canopy or other barrier to catch and deflect falling ice, snow and debris.
If you plan to leave your power on, set your heat thermostat to around 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit) to help guard against frozen pipes.
Fall is a great time to schedule your preventative HVAC maintenance inspection and service. Your technician will clean the exterior and interior of each unit, inspecting all wiring and pilot light components for safety and making minor adjustments and repairs.
Clean & Unplug All Other Appliances and Systems
Aside from any systems you may plan to leave powered on, you will now want to begin cleaning, drying, sanitizing and unplugging all other major appliances and systems. Don’t forget about exterior units such as a clothes washer and dryer housed in an outside building!
Be sure as well to prop the doors to your refrigerator and freezer open to prevent mould and mildew from creating musty conditions during the winter.
Remove all dry goods, including paper goods and food, and place them in a cool, dry, airtight, animal- and insect-proof storage container. Do the same with bed and bathroom linens and any other cozy items that might appeal to insects or uninvited wildlife.
Get in Touch
Here at Gravenhurst Plumbing, Heating and Electric, we have been helping seasonal cottage owners close up their lovely part-time residences since 1945!
So it is safe to say we are pros at the process. We are happy to help you ensure your cottage is cleaned, closed and locked up safely before winter arrives. Contact us online or give us a call at 1-877-885-3403 to let us know what you need help with!