It is always a sad day when you are sitting at the cottage, and the leaves start to turn, and you realize that the nights are getting cooler. We usually delay the decision to close up the cottage to the last minute. Given our uncertain weather events these days, it is best not to wait. Frozen pipes can cause a great deal of damage.
This is also the best time of the year to check your insurance policy. If any neighbours can check on your cottage throughout the winter months you can let them know that you are closing. They should have your phone and email details in case of an emergency.
The closing of the cottage routine can be broken into two areas, inside and out. Take photos of all areas, including the dock, water/septic system and inside. This can help with insurance claims and to show you how to set things up next year.
If your cottage contains many valuables you plan a Winter visit, you may want to consider alarm and monitoring services.
Outside the cottage
- Take a walk outside of your cottage and conduct a detailed inspection of the building
- Check for loose boards, missing siding or chipped paint
- Check the drainage around the cottage, ensure the water can always run away from all the buildings
- Check for any small holes that animals could use to find a warm Winter home
- Check downspouts and make sure they carry the water well away from the foundation
- Check the roof, if you can get on it, check for loose or missing shingles or any gaps in the flashing and if possible, remove moss and leaves
- Check and, if necessary and use silicone caulking around windows and doors
- Clean the gutters and consider installing gutter guards
- Turn off outdoor taps and on the inside, if there is a shut off valve
- Bring in any toys, lawn furniture and BBQs
- Store all dock ornaments, ladders, life jackets, ski equipment and boats
- Conduct annual maintenance on the motors
- If your cottage has a septic system, follow the manufacturer’s service recommendations and timelines
- Turn off your water supply and drain your pipes and all water containers to prevent them from freezing
- Rake and remove leaves from around the cottage
Inside the cottage
- Unplug major appliances
- Turn off your entire power supply, unless you have a sump pump, exterior lighting or alarm system
- Remove all valuables
- Remove bedding, towels and other fabrics
- Get rid of all fire hazards that could easily catch or spread a fire
- Clean out the fridge and cupboards
- Leave the refrigerator door cracked open to prevent musty smells
- For each toilet, shut off the water on the wall, flush it and remove the remaining water from the tank
- Close curtains to prevent fading from the sunlight
- Close fireplace damper
It is never a happy time when we drive away from the cottage for the last time each year. However, if you follow the checklist and perform some basic maintenance tasks, the cottage will be ready to greet you and your family next year.