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Lights, Water, HVAC: Simple Solutions to Cottage Opening Hassles

cottage dock at sunset

If you are like us, all winter you were probably dreaming about the arrival of spring - of  venturing outdoors again without first donning several layers of clothing, and heavy boots; of feeling the warm spring air and the sunshine filling you up with happy doses of vitamin D.

Best of all, you could visit your seasonal cottage again and just get away from it all with family and friends!

But if recent customer phone calls here have anything to say about it, many of you have discovered winter was not kind to your seasonal abodes. You went to turn the lights on - no lights. All the water has mysteriously disappeared. And air conditioning - it is nowhere to be found.

These are some of our favorite cottage reopening tips gathered over many years - here's hoping they smooth out your arrival. And remember, if you need our help, we're just a phone call away!

NOTE: If you are opening up a seasonal cottage for the first time, we have written a whole blog post just on this topic.

Restoring Power to Your Seasonal Cottage

Every year, we get calls from longtime and new customers reporting unexplained power outages at their seasonal cottage.

Winter can be hard on seasonal dwellings, and so can unwelcome winter visitors. Squirrels and rodents may chew the wiring outside or inside the walls. Ice and snow or falling debris can knock connections loose. Breakers can get tripped during seasonal outages.

Unless you have background and training in electrical systems, for safety reasons we recommend you stop and call a pro for help - it is just too easy to electrocute yourself and this is no way to kick off cottage season!

But what you can do right away is conduct an initial inspection to check for common outage issues:

  • Do you see tripped breakers? Did you try to reset them and nothing happened?

  • Does your cottage show signs of damage to walls, vents, sockets?

  • Are nearby power lines damaged or downed?

  • Do individual lights or components power up while others inexplicably do not?

  • Have you discovered remains of bird or rodent nests in or around your cottage?

  • Did you remember to call your power company and restore service (this is all too easy to forget but it sure makes a difference)!

Resuming Water Service to Your Seasonal Cottage

Every seasonal cottage owner fears and dreads water damage. Most cottages work from a lake or well system, and for many owners, this is their first time learning how to clean, maintain, shut down and reopen water service that is lake or well-based.

There is definitely a learning curve here, and sometimes it can help to hire a pro to walk you through the process for the first time. Then you know exactly what to do in subsequent years.

You definitely want to start by re-establishing cold water service - save the hot water tank for last and be sure to refill the tank before re-establishing power to the unit.

If you don't do all the steps in the right order, you may inadvertently cause damage to your water delivery system during reopening, so here is what to do first:

  • Do a full visual inspection as best you can to see if you can spot leaks, line or pipe damage or signs of prior flooding.

  • Close the valve to your hot water tank.

  • Replace the filter on your water pump and then prime the pump.

  • Open a single cold water tap inside your cottage.

  • Head to the electrical panel and power up your water pump.

  • Open all the valves and then all the taps.

  • Close all the taps and do a walk-through to look for leaking taps or unusual sounds (like hissing, clanking, banging or dripping).

If you run into trouble restoring cold and then hot water service to your cottage and can't resolve it quickly on your own, we recommend calling in the pros to avoid the danger and expense of a cottage flooding situation.

Re-establishing HVAC Service to Your Seasonal Cottage

When it comes to heating and air conditioning, seasonal cottage systems tend to be all over the map.

Some cottages have heating only. Others have A/C and heating. Still others have an old-school wood stove or a fireplace for heating. And others have a ductless mini-split, a heat pump or some combination thereof to deliver cooling and heating.

But regardless of what type (if any) HVAC system your seasonal cottage has, the first thing you should do is a thorough visual inspection, especially if your cottage includes a fireplace and a chimney. Clean any debris from both, and also from exhaust vents and outdoor HVAC components, especially the HVAC compressor.

Next, change (or clean and replace) HVAC filters and inspect all the power cords and outlets for any signs of wear or damage.

Before turning on your heat or cooling, run the system for about an hour in fan mode to clear out accumulated dust from months of non-use. It is normal to smell a slight musty or "burning" odour as dust is cleared out, but if this odour does not resolve after several minutes, shut down the system and call the pros.

Get in Touch

Have you scheduled your spring cottage HVAC maintenance and safety inspection yet?

Is it time to have your well and/or septic system cleaned and primed? Do you need a backup generator to safeguard your cottage components from unexpected power surges or outages? We can help!

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

P.S. Don’t forget to sign up to receive Chip’s Tips by email each month - it's free!

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