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Cottage Closing Checklist: Do These Things to Protect Your Investment

cottage closing chairs on deck

It seems like just yesterday our service technicians were zipping around helping excited families open up their cottages for spring. Now, our fall schedule is starting to fill up with cottage-closing appointments!

Whether this is your first time closing your seasonal cottage or you have many openings and closings under your belt, some cottage closing tasks are easier to do than others. As well, some years bring unique challenges, such as an aging sump pump or a wonky water heater.

In this post, we share our top tips to keep your seasonal cottage – and all of its many components – safe and sturdy this winter. If you need help, we are just a phone call away!

Power Checklist

Your first and most important decision will be whether or not to leave any power running during the winter.

Some cottage owners do elect to leave the main power on to operate a home security system, keep the sump pump running in case of flooding and protect fixtures and furnishings.

If you choose to disconnect your power, be sure to alert your power provider(s). Often, providers will disconnect your power without a fee at least once per year for any reason. This can be handy to avoid fees during the winter.

If you choose to leave the main power on, be sure to winter-proof and critter-proof outlets, cables and cords, the main breaker box and any other exposed components.

Major Appliances Checklist

Even if you do decide to keep the main power active during the winter, you will want to power down any major appliances you don’t plan to use.

This can prevent damage from power surges, electrical fires and small power draws from dormant appliances that can still add up over the winter.

Heating & Air Conditioning Checklist

If you plan to power down your seasonal cottage for the winter, simply turn off the HVAC appliances and give them a good cleaning. Install a protective cover over any exterior components that may get damaged in winter storms.

If you plan to leave the power on, set the thermostat at around 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit) just to keep frost damage from occurring.

Septic Checklist

The septic system tends to be one of the biggest stressors for first-time seasonal cottage owners. The type of preparation you need to do will depend on the type of septic system you have.

If you plan to disconnect all power, it can be a good idea to go ahead and have your septic serviced (if due and applicable) before closing your cottage.

For aerobic septic systems, even if you leave the power on, you should turn the blower off for the winter.

For anaerobic systems, adding a small amount of RV antifreeze (NOT auto antifreeze) to each toilet bowl will help keep the pipes from freezing and guard against a burst pipe.

Place an insulating cover over exposed elements of your septic system as applicable and cap off any exposed openings. This will protect the beneficial bacteria from freezing and also protect the components from storm damage.

If there is any risk of soil or snow compaction (i.e., from heavy snowfall or parking heavy equipment on top of your septic field) do your best to put out warning markers to safeguard your system.

Sump Pump Checklist

Whether you choose to disconnect the main power or leave it active, one thing you absolutely need to do before you close up your cottage is install a backup sump pump system.

If your sump pump doesn’t have an off-grid backup such as a battery pack, you risk flood damage from severe weather.

Even if you leave the main power on, you still want to be sure you have sufficient backup resources in place, such as battery pack or a generator wired to the power mains.

Water & Hot Water Checklist

One of the most important aspects of preparing your seasonal cottage for winter is to ensure your pipes don’t freeze and burst.

You will want to drain all the water out of your pipes, fixtures and toilets to prevent this from happening, then add a little RV antifreeze (NOT auto antifreeze) as an extra safeguard.

For even more protection, as applicable, also drain any standing water out of your dishwasher, clothes washer and hot water heater. Be sure to consult the manufacturer’s manual for instructions on how to do this safely for each appliance.

Cottage Structure Checklist

One of the most important aspects of protecting your seasonal cottage investment is to do a complete exterior and interior walkthrough.

On the outside, examine the roof to be sure it is sturdy and will withstand winter storms. On the inside, be sure to remove any food (even canned goods) and any belongings that could double as nests for visiting rodents who may find their way inside.

On that note, plug up any exhaust vents, and open pipes and the chimney flue (if you have a fireplace).

Remove anything that could turn into kindling or fuel in the event of a fire. This also holds true for any garage, storage shed or exterior workspace.

Safety & Security Checklist

If you have a friend or neighbor who stays in the area, ask them to stop in and check on your cottage regularly. Install outside solar lights that power on in the evening for extra precaution.

Why Choose Gravenhurst for Your Cottage Closing Needs?

As a full-service plumbing, heating, air conditioning and electric service provider with full certification and licensure, Gravenhurst also has the expertise to assist with all your cottage closing needs.

Get in Touch

Contact us online or give us a call at 1-877-885-3403.

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