Fall is a favourite time for many cottagers in Canada. Days swimming in the lake are replaced by long, bugless, walks through colourful forests. If you have not winterized your cottage then it is also the time of year to begin closing the cottage up until spring.
To help make the transition easier, we have created a high-level 10 point closing your cottage checklist.
Clean those gutters
Later on in the season, once the leaves fall, it is important to safely climb up and clean out your cottage gutters. Clogged gutters can cause water to creep under shingles or small cracks, leading to leaks in your roof. Clean gutters allow melting snow to more easily get from your roof to the ground.
Look over the roof
After cleaning the gutters, climb up on the roof to look for broken or missing shingles. Once winter sets in the snow can cause leaky roofs or can even cause roofs to cave in.
Inspect your septic tank
Your three-season cottage likely is also on a septic system. Most septic systems are older making it even more important to follow the manufacturer’s service recommendations and timelines. We suggest using a professional to service your septic to avoid any undesirable surprises come spring.
Drain the pipes
Most people hire a cottage closing specialist to ensure this is completed effectively. Usually, these companies may provide better pricing if you team up with your neighbours to make their day more effective.
If you do the draining of your piping system yourself, make sure you turn off the water supply and drain the pipes and all containers to prevent freezing (and potential bursting).
Clean out the fridge and cupboards
Hungry insects and animals are resilient in finding food to survive the winter. Any food (including canned food) can attract insects and animals. When you’re officially ready to close the cottage, pack up all the food in the fridge and cupboards and take the food home with you.
Check the perimeter of the cottage
Beyond food, animals desire comfortable shelter and your cottage is a perfect escape from winter. Walk around the cottage (both inside and outside) looking for any small holes or openings where animals may be able to squeeze through. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, ensure you cover the chimney when you are up on the roof as well.
Unplug or depower major appliances
It is likely not safe to turn off your entire power supply (items like your sump pump, exterior lighting, and alarm system need power). To help prevent fires, unplug major appliances or, depending on your electrical panel make-up, turn off the power entirely to those larger appliances.
Keep the sump pump working
If you have a sump pump, take time to ensure it is in good working order. If it breaks down through the winter you may experience flooding as the snow melts.
Look for fire hazards and remove them
Take home, dispose of, or donate fire hazards in the cottage. Look for and remove potential hazards like newspapers, books, towels, kitchen cloths, flammable chemicals, and other items that could easily catch fire.
Turn off the heat source
If you have properly prepared your pipes to prevent freezing you can save energy and money by turning off the heating source. If you use space heaters, unplug them or make sure you turn off the power supply.
A bonus step you can take is to let us, your insurance broker, know you have closed up your cottage for the winter. Doing so lets us let you know if there are any additional precautions required.
As you close up the cottage for the season, reflect and laugh at the good memories made over the past year.