Checklist: Closing up the cottage for winter Image

Checklist: Closing up the cottage for winter

By Jen Taylor on Sep 28, 2015

The air is cooler and the nights are getting longer - fall is officially upon us. As the leaves begin to change, many families are beginning to close up the cottage for the season. Properly preparing your cottage for the winter is an essential step in packing up and locking the door for another season.

According to Amy Woods of Allstate Insurance Company of Canada, “the top two cottage insurance claims are due to damage caused by water and wind during the winter and early spring. Taking a few extra precautions at the end of the cottage season may save you unnecessary grief in the spring.”

If you’re a new cottage-owner or you just need a quick guide to get a little more organized this autumn, don’t worry. has compiled a checklist to help you close up the cottage so you can avoid any surprises next year.

    • Shut off the water supply

      To avoid flooding and any pipe damage, be sure to turn off the water supply and drain all of the pipes and the hot water tanks. If you have a dishwasher or washing machine make sure their water valves are also turned off. Style At Home recommends turning off all toilets, flushing them, and bailing out any remaining water. You can also pour antifreeze into your toilet bowl to protect the pipes (try to use an RV antifreeze or any environmentally friendly variety).

      Tip: Leave taps open for the winter to allow them to “breathe.”

    • Turn off electrical appliances

      Many appliances draw energy while plugged in. Make sure you unplug them to avoid large bills and reduce the risk of fire. It’s also a good idea to turn off and defrost the fridge (but be sure to leave the door open to prevent mildew from growing over the winter).

      Tip: Baseboard heaters are one of the leading causes of cottage fires. If you have baseboard heaters, ensure that these are turned off before leaving for the season.

    • Keep everything airtight

      Walk around the exterior of the cottage looking for any small openings that could be “co-opted for an animal home” or become sources of water damage as the snow melts. Pay close attention to areas around windows and doors, under the deck, in the foundation, and under eaves. It’s best (and easiest) to seal up these areas before the first frost. Take a look at the roof and replace any broken or damaged shingles. Cottage-owners should also be sure to block flues, stovepipes, and chimneys and seal them with a metal cap to keep birds out.

      Tip: If you have a chimney, close the flue and consider investing in a cover that can be placed over the opening to prevent animals from moving in over the winter. The Allstate Insurance Company of Canada also encourages cottage-owners to have their chimneys inspected to ensure they don’t have hazardous amounts of creosote accumulation, which can cause fires.

Clear out the eaves to prevent water damage over the winter Clear out the eaves to prevent water damage over the winter

    • Deter theft

      Many families don’t visit the cottage regularly during the winter season, making them vulnerable to burglars. Be sure to take any valuables back to the city with you and consider putting timers on lamps to give the appearance of a lived-in cottage. Style At Home also recommends hiring a company to maintain the walkways and road around the cottage throughout the winter. This will give emergency vehicles access in the event of a fire and also makes the cottage look lived-in, deterring thieves.

      Tip: Style at Home suggests taking pictures of the interior and exterior of your cottage and the serial numbers of any valuables you leave behind in the cottage. These will be useful if you need to contact your insurance company in the spring

    • Store seasonal items

      Store seasonal items such as patio furniture, barbecues, and boats. If you don’t have a garage, consider investing in a shed to keep these items dry and secure throughout the winter months. If you have a BBQ, make sure to disconnect the propane tank and store it in a safe location out of direct sunlight. Always handle potentially explosive items with care.

      Tip: Bring home all of your garbage and food. Even non-perishable food items like canned food and dry goods can attract animals over the winter. To deter critters from finding their way into your home, try scattering mothballs around the cottage.

    • Prevent natural damage

      Over the winter, your cottage is vulnerable to damage from ice, trees, and melting snow. Take some time to trim back any branches that could cause damage to the roof and clean out the eavestroughs to ensure proper drainage in the spring when the snow starts to melt.

      Tip: Monitor the snowfall in that region throughout the winter. If the area receives a significant amount of snow it might be a good idea to go up once to remove heavy snow and ice build-up from the roof.

Do you have tips for closing up the cottage? Share them with us at @NewHomeBuyers or on Facebook!

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