How to Get Your Cottage Ready for Winter: Inside and Outside

how to winterize a cottage

As summer ends, it’s time for many people to wrap up their cottage visits for the year. During the October long weekend, people typically get busy with chores like tidying up, getting the cottage ready for the cold season, and shutting things down. Even though everyone’s routine might vary a bit, there’s one rule everyone follows: to steer clear of insurance headaches next year, it’s vital to be super careful. To make sure you cover all your bases, we’ve compiled a handy checklist of must-do tasks to winterize your cottage.

Important Steps to Winterizing Your Cottage

Get ready to ensure your cottage stays safe and snug through the winter months with these essential winterization steps.

Prevent Burst Pipes and Septic Damage

When it gets cold, pipes at cottages can freeze and burst, causing big damage with no insurance to help. That’s why it’s crucial to get your cottage plumbing ready for winter.

How to Prevent Your Pipes from Freezing

To keep your pipes from freezing and bursting:

  • Turn off the water: Find and close the main water valve in your basement or crawl space.
  • Drain your pipes: Open the drain valve or run all taps from the basement to upstairs to let water out. Keep taps slightly open to let any remaining water drip out.
  • Empty toilets: Turn off the toilet’s water supply, flush, and drain the tank.
  • Winterize appliances: Follow manufacturer instructions to shut off and prepare fridges, washers, and dishwashers.
  • Prep your hot water tank: Set electric heaters to the lowest setting and close valves. For gas or turned-off electric heaters, drain following manufacturer guidelines.
  • Use antifreeze: Pour antifreeze into drains and toilets to prevent water from freezing.
  • Insulate exposed lines: Cover exposed pipes with insulation and remove water intake lines from lakes if not in use.

pipes in winter

How to Winterize Your Cottage’s Septic

It’s important to pump out your septic tank every three years to keep it working well. You can also watch for signs that it needs attention:

  • Drains are slow to empty.
  • Flushing seems weak.
  • Bad smells surround the septic tank.
  • Water collects near the tank.
  • Thick, healthy grass grows over the tank.

How to Winterize Your Sump Pump

Sump pumps help keep water away from your cottage to prevent flooding. Here’s what you should do:

  • Check your pump: Before winter, pour water into the sump pit. If it doesn’t pump it out, there’s a problem.
  • Remove exterior hoses: Disconnect any hoses outside the foundation to avoid freezing and potential flooding issues in spring.
  • Clean the pit: Before winter, clean out any debris from the sump pit to prevent blockages.
  • Keep it plugged in: Leave the power on during winter to keep your sump pump running. This prevents flooding, even during unexpected warm spells.
  • Prevent freezing: Keep the sump area heated to avoid freezing. If you use gas heat, turn it off and use a space heater instead. Set the temperature to 10°C to 12°C to save energy. Consider using a smart heater for remote monitoring.

Prep Your Cottage’s Roof

Snow piling up on your roof can cause trouble like leaks and flooding. Here’s what you can do to prevent it:

  • Check the outside of your roof for:
  • Any damage to the structure.
  • Cracks in the bricks or stones.
  • Spots where the roof looks sunken with water sitting on it.
  • Shingles that are loose or missing.

While you’re up there, clean out your gutters to help the water drain properly. You might also think about adding guards or catchers to stop leaves from clogging them.

Inside your home, keep an eye out for:

  • Cracks, mold, or stains on the ceiling. This could mean there’s a problem with your roof.

Prevent Rodents from Taking Shelter

When winter comes, animals like squirrels and raccoons look for cozy spots, like closed-up cottages, to stay warm. Here’s how to keep them out:

  • Don’t feed them: Even though it’s tempting to feed animals for fun, it encourages them to stick around your cottage.
  • Before closing up for winter, do these easy things:
  • Take out all the food from the cupboards and fridge.
  • Keep fridge and freezer doors open a bit to prevent bad smells. You can prop them open with something like a paper cup taped in place.
  • Check outside your cottage for any holes or cracks, and seal them up with caulk. Mice can fit through tiny holes, even as small as 6 mm.
  • Close and lock all doors, including chimney dampers and caps. If you have screens on windows or other openings, consider boarding them up so animals can’t chew through.

Unplug All Appliances

It was mentioned above that it’s a good idea to keep the electricity on in your cottage for your sump pump and heater. But there are other reasons too. You might need it for alarm systems and outside lights.

If you don’t have any of these things, it’s okay to turn the power off completely.

If you decide to keep the electricity on, make sure to unplug stuff you’re not using, like the water heater, fridge, stove, TVs, and more. This helps avoid using unnecessary power and lowers the chance of a fire.

While you’re unplugging things, check the outlets and plugs for any signs of melting or burning. If you see any, it’s important to fix them to avoid electrical fires in winter.

Clean Your Surroundings

Empty houses are attractive to burglars. To make it less inviting for them, take as much as you can when you leave. If you’re leaving behind big stuff like canoes, BBQs, or furniture, put them inside or secure them with chains. Don’t keep propane tanks indoors. Take them off your BBQ and store them somewhere with good airflow, not on the ground.

Make sure your yard looks tidy. Give it a final mow, trim back plants if needed, and spread leaves as mulch. Rake leaves in your gardens and around trees to keep them warm and healthy.

Prepare your cottage stuff for winter. Clean tools, sharpen blades, and grease moving parts. Then put them in a locked shed or take them home with you.

If you have a dock in water that freezes, take it apart and move it out. Even if the water doesn’t freeze hard, it’s a good idea to pull in your dock to avoid problems.

Winterizing Your Cottage is the Best Way to Ensure Its Safety

Get ready for winter at your cottage! Follow these simple steps to keep your place safe and snug. From preventing burst pipes to deterring rodents, we’ve got you covered. Don’t forget to unplug appliances, tidy up your yard, and secure your belongings. Stay safe and worry-free all winter long!

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