It is time to button up your summer cottage on the shores of Lake Louise or Emerald Lake and get ready for winter fun on the slopes. Here are some cottage closing tips to help make sure you don’t forget anything important. Make sure you have everything checked off your list before you load up the truck and SUV to head home this year.
Empty the Fridge
While ketchup may survive a winter freeze, leaving any food behind is never a good idea. Donate unopened packages and toss out leftovers. Make sure that the freezer is empty, too. A pair of refrigerator storage clips will keep the doors cracked open while the cabin is empty to help limit mold growth.
Clear the Pantry
A bear can smell that jar of pickles. Keep mice, raccoons, squirrels, and other wildlife out of your cottage by eliminating all food sources. Pack all the dry goods and take them home with you.
Drain the Water Heater and Winterize the Pipes
Most cottages will shut off the power and heat after the first freeze. Prevent your pipes from bursting by winterizing the entire plumbing system. You must empty the water heater and introduce RV or marine anti-freeze into the system. This is to ensure you won’t be greeted with floods and broken pipes when you return next spring.
Secure the Windows and Doors
Go through the entire cottage and ensure every window and door is locked—especially that one that gets jammed open all summer. A closed window provides improved protection against blizzard winds and driving snow. If the old locks have failed, seal the window or door with a sheet of plywood nailed into place.
Seal Bed Linens and Clothes
You probably have blankets, pillows, and table linens that stay up at the cottage all year. Clear the beds and seal all the soft goods in vacuum-sealed bags. If the mice get in, they won’t have nesting material available. It also prevents that stale odour from getting into the fabric.
Take in the Dock and Boat Launch
The lake likely freezes over. Like your boat, the dock also needs to be stored so it won’t get crushed by ice. The pilings will be fine; the floating decks need protection.
Store the Picnic Table, Chairs, and Outdoor Furniture
The wind can get fierce out at a lake or on a shore. Stop your outdoor entertainment area from flying away by bringing all the pieces inside or chaining them down. It’s okay to have the porch or even the living room overflowing with folding chairs for the winter since nobody is around to be bothered by it!
One Last Rake and Mow
It’s much easier to notice damage to your property when your maintenance guy drives by in the winter if the yard is clean after you leave. Spend an afternoon picking up all the loose branches, raking the leaves, and trimming the grass. It also makes setting up the firepit and picnic area twice as easy in the spring.
Inspect and Seal the Roof, Attic, and Crawlspace
Even if the cottage is not heated, it’s still an appealing shelter to all the critters wintering on the lake. Make sure that your summer home is sealed. Fix the fencing that blocks access to the crawlspace so a raccoon or skunk cannot make a den under your bedroom. Fix the flashing around the edges of the shingles. That can be easy for bats and mice. If the attic has a vent, add metal screens to the inside to block access for birds and rodents.
Set Up Monitoring for Security
This item often gets left off the “how to close your cottage” instructions. Today it’s easy and reasonably affordable to add a remote security system to your summer cottage–mainly if the power stays on all year. Use an app on your smartphone to bring up the cameras, moisture, and door sensors at any time.
You can install the system and find it on the shelf at your local big-box retailer.
Review Your Cottage Insurance
Finally, ensure your vacation home is protected against winter storms and unexpected damage. A cottage insurance policy from Wayfarer Insurance helps you keep family memories happy by ensuring you can repair and replace them in the event of a winter storm. Give us a call for a quote today.
We hope our guide to closing your cottage for the winter helps you return to your second home next year with less stress and added confidence.
Download our FREE Cottage Closing Checklist to help keep you on track this year.