So, you’ve enjoyed a fabulous summer and early fall in your cabin, but you know that the bitterly cold Canadian winter is right around the corner. As any experienced cabin owner will tell you, it is certainly not advisable to just walk away from the cabin and expect nothing adverse to happen while you are away. There are some things you need to properly take care of first in order to make sure that you not only protect your cabin today, but that it will be ready for you to enjoy next spring when the good weather returns once again. Consider the guidelines below as a means to develop your own cottage closing checklist.
Take Care of the Outside of the Cabin
When you get ready to take care of the outside of your cabin, it does not have to be a burdensome task. Here is how to winterize your cottage in such a way that you have a much more enjoyable opening weekend next spring:
- Take care of the windows – You want to board up the gazebo, and take care to board up any screen windows that you have as well. Do this on the cottage, and the guest cottage alike. This task is important because you do not want any uninvited animals to break in while you are away, making the cleanup in the spring all the more painful.
- Prepare the canoes and kayaks – If you have any canoes and kayaks, and you want to make sure that they are there next year, you want to stack them on either a sawhorse or on a rack that is a good distance away from the lake or the road. The key here is to make sure they are not visible to passersby that might aim to swipe them from you. It is always a good idea to chain them together with a good lock.
- Stow away the picnic table – If there is room inside your cottage, put it in there. This helps to preserve the table to give you years of use out of it, and it can also double as a solid surface to stow boxes on for the winter.
- Take care of the barbecue and propane tank – One of the most enjoyable aspects of your cottage life is the enjoyment you get out of cooking and eating outside. Many people neglect to properly clean their barbecue, however, making for quite a messy chore come the spring. You need to clean it thoroughly, and then disconnect the propane tank and separate it from the grill itself. Take them both and stow them away in a protected area that is locked, if possible.
- Tools – If you spend much time at your cottage, you have probably assembled quite the array of tools over the years. Take some time at the end of the season to clean them off and then store them all away in a properly locked storage shed. Tools are quite expensive, particularly when adding up their collective value, so you want to protect them as much as possible.
- Look over your roof – The winter can be harsh on a cottage, and you will not be there to look after it. Take some time at the end of the season to conduct an inspection of the roof. If you notice any damaged shingles that need replacing, go ahead and do so. You want to clean out the gutters to allow for the melted snow to properly drain once spring rolls around. Finally, take a few moments to trim any tree branches that might be nearby and risk dumping even more snow and ice onto the roof over the course of the winter.
- Take time to look under the cabin – You want to take care of any garbage that you might have stored under there. Take it to the local dump in the area. This will help to improve the air and water flow to your cottage, and it will also take away any possible homes that little animals like to use during the winter. You want to spread some mothballs all around to help keep mice and other animals from trying to get inside your cabin as well.
How to Close Your Cottage from the Inside
You do not want to neglect the inside of your cottage either. Consider the following tips as you think about how to winterize your cottage.
- Take care of the wood stove – You want to make sure you clean the stove completely. Close the damper vent, and then inspect the chimneystack. Specifically, you want to check for any rust or tar buildup that might have accumulated over the course of the spring and summer. Look at the gasket and seal, and then repair or replace it if needed. While you’re at it, go ahead and oil the hinges, levers, and other moving parts of the stove as well. This will get it ready for next spring and allow you to cook from the very first weekend.
- Look at the refrigerator and freezer – You do not want to neglect these two appliances. Take out all remaining food. Properly dispose of any that you do not need, and take home the rest with you as you leave. You want to disinfect both appliances and wipe them clean. In order to take away any odours, consider putting in an open box of baking soda. Your nose will thank you when you return in the spring.
- Bed and Furniture – You will want to cover all mattresses in the cottage with plastic sheets. Cover up any chairs or sofas with plastic sheets as well, as this will help to keep the mice away. It is also a good idea to place some sheets of fabric softener in the drawers and closets as well.
Water and Pipes
The water system must be drained properly as leftover water in the system will freeze during the winter and could cause a huge headache with burst pipes. Following these instructions will take care of that:
Drain The Water Heater
- Turn off the electricity switch on the electrical panel for the water pump and water heater
- Close the cold water intake valve to the hot water tank
- Attach a hose to the water heater drain valve
- Run the hose outside or into a bucket
- Open a hot water tap
- Open the drain valve and let out all of the water remaining in the tank
- Remove the hose and place a cup under the valve to catch the remaining drips of water
- Close the drain valve once the water stops dripping
- Close the hot water tap
Draining The Rest Of The System
Gravity should do most of the work with the water in the line draining back to the lake once you turn off the power to the water pump. However, some water will remain in the water traps. To rid the u-shape pipes of any residual water:
- Open all taps inside and outside to use up the existing pressure in the line
- Pour a good amount of plumbing approved anti-freeze into all of the drains (sink, bath, shower, washer) and toilet as you finish the last flush and lastly, add some to the toilet tank.
For Land-Based Water Pumps
- Unplug the water pump to avoid it running if the power gets switched-on by accident
- Open all the levers / taps on the water pump to drain any remaining water
- Remove the water filter and allow the remaining water to drain
- Disconnect the water line from the water-side of the water pump and tie it off to something solid
- Close the water pump drain tap and priming valve lever once the water has drained
- Pour some anti-freeze into the filter opening and / or directly into the top of the water pump, until you see the anti-freeze come out the intake valve
- Put the water filter cap and/or the plug back on
- Cover the open end of the water line and the intake end on the water pump with tin cans and seal them with duct tape, which will keep unwanted creatures from hibernating here in the winter.
Following this cottage closing checklist will go a long way towards ensuring that you will return next spring to a great holiday home that is just as you left it.