Wow! In just a few weeks, we will be welcoming September and the beginnings of fall! And even though memories of opening your cottage for the warm season are likely still fresh, it will soon be time to close it down again for the return of the cold.
If you have had your seasonal cottage for years, you likely know the drill—perhaps you just need a bit of professional assistance when you are crunched for time.
But if you are new to seasonal cottage upkeep and maintenance, the onset of cottage closing season can be a stressful endeavor.
In this post, we offer our favorite tips for a speedy and seamless cottage closing process. We are also happy to work with you to ensure your cabin is winterized properly before winter actually arrives.
When to Close Your Summer Cottage
As climate change continues to unfold, some of our long-predictable weather patterns are beginning to shift. This can make it more challenging to choose an optimal cottage closing date.
Traditionally, cottage owners have aimed to have a seasonal cottage closed and winterized no later than Thanksgiving weekend, perhaps earlier, if snow is predicted to make an early appearance that year.
Herein, of course, lies the essential seasonal conundrum—close your cottage too early and you miss out on some of the loveliest weather of the whole year. Close too late and every step of the cottage closing process will be harder to complete.
So aim to close down your cottage as soon as your fall schedule no longer feasibly permits you to visit the cottage regularly. This way, you have ample time to attend to each critical item, which is particularly vital if this is your first go-round with fall cottage closing procedures!
Major Cottage Closing Checklist
Some items on your cottage closing checklist are simply too important to be neglected. Forget or skip over these items and you may return to a ghastly and expensive repair job.
1. Drain and wrap your pipes. You want to be sure you guard against pipes freezing and bursting over the winter season. Drain out the water and then shut off the main water valve.
2. Leak-proof your hot water heater. Only by draining and turning off your hot water heater can you be sure it won't spring a damaging mid-winter leak.
3. Defrost your refrigerator/freezer. Unplug it and leave the doors slightly ajar to prevent mould and mildew. Remove all food, even canned items, which may freeze and/or spoil or attract wildlife.
4. Prepare your septic/sump system for winter. What you do can depend on the height of your water table and whether your pipes pump uphill or downhill. Take advice from the manufacturer or an expert on how to winterize your particular system.
5. Wildlife-proof your roof, vents, main cottage, and storage shed areas. Rodents and insects will be eager to enter your cabin to shelter when temperatures drop. Re-seal old caulking, install vent screens, close your fireplace chimney flue, and take other specific precautions as needed to keep out wildlife.
6. Take in and secure all equipment, furniture, docks, vehicles, and gear. Secure these inside your shed to prevent them from becoming damaging missiles during winter's storms. Be SURE you factor in the possibility of rising water in deciding where to store these valuable items.
7. Secure any items to be left outside during winter. If there are items that are too cumbersome or large to be moved easily or for which you simply have no storage space indoors, be sure to secure them in some way—chains and a heavy-duty lock often work well.
8. Make a decision about your main power supply. Some cottage owners leave it on to power security systems or safety lighting. This is a very individual decision—take help from an expert if you need it to make the best decision. If you do unplug completely, make sure to unplug each appliance individually as well.
9. Check to be sure all seasonal vehicle and cottage insurance is up-to-date. Insurance may not be the most fun part of owning a seasonal cottage and seasonal vehicles/recreational gear, but it sure comes in handy when these treasures become damaged, vandalized, or stolen!
Minor Cottage Closing Checklist
Other items on your cottage closing checklist are less critical in terms of cottage safety and security, but doing them will definitely make your life easier when it comes time to reopen your cottage in the spring.
1. Winterize your lawn and garden. Clear out old foliage, mow, weed, and add a layer or two of protective mulch for winter.
2. Clean out and winterize your fireplace. If you have a working fireplace you've been using, any leftover debris will become a winter critter magnet. In addition, cleaning, repairing, and oiling all fireplace and flue mechanisms will make it much easier to reopen it for use in the spring.
3. Give your cottage itself a good pre-winter cleaning. This includes wrapping pillows, mattresses, cushions, and linens in plastic to keep dust mites and other tiny creatures out. You can place fabric softener sheets inside the plastic to act as a further repellant.
4. Place anti-damp packets in each room to guard against excess winter humidity. This will stave off spring issues with mould or mildew and help ease any musty odour.
Give Us a Call
Here at Gravenhurst Plumbing, our goal is to make your seasonal cottage opening and closing chores as straightforward and simple as possible. If you need guidance on your particular cottage fixtures, we can help. If you would feel more comfortable having a pro close up and winterize your cottage, give us a call at 877-885-3403.