Closing Your Muskoka Cottage for the Winter
Whether you like it or not, the fall season has arrived, which means that you’ll have to start seriously thinking about closing up your cottage for the winter. Effectively closing your cottage ensures that it’ll be safe throughout the winter months, and will increase its longevity. Failure to close your cottage properly can result in serious damage to your property and a major headache in the spring. Here’s what you need to know about closing your Muskoka cottage for the winter season.
Take a look at the exterior and attend to the chores you’ve neglected
The first step to closing up your cottage for the winter is to take some time out of your day and examine the exterior of your cottage. Make sure that you clean and repair your gutters and take a look at the roof – heavy snowfall can wreak havoc on your cottage property if these things aren’t done proactively. While you’re on the roof, you might want to put a cap or cover over the chimney (if applicable) in order to keep pests from entering through the chimney. Take a walk around the property and look for any openings where pests can easily enter your home, and be sure to seal them to thwart any unwanted winter visitors.
Wrap the pipes, turn off the water and check the sump pump
The next step involves doing something that very few people want to do – you’ll need to go into your crawlspace to wrap any water pipes. Wrapping pipes is an essential part of winterizing the cottage, and will keep the pipes from freezing easily. Using foam or other insulating materials to wrap the pipes will allow you to continue visiting or using the cottage during the winter months, and will make re-opening the cottage in early spring much less of a headache. If you don’t plan on using the cottage over the winter, be sure to shut off the water and drain the pipes. Leave one faucet on to ensure that there’s no water in your pipes, otherwise they run the risk of bursting and causing serious damage.
Another crucial step in closing the cottage is to ensure that the sump pump and septic tank are in good working order. Without a working sump pump, there’s a good chance that your basement could flood over the winter, which could be disastrous for your property. If you’re planning to turn off the power for the winter, consider running the sump pump on a backup generator to cover any unexpected failures. If you haven’t serviced your septic tank in recent years, now might be the best time to do so, allowing you to have a much more relaxing experience when opening the cottage in the spring.
Unplug everything and turn down the heat
If you aren’t planning on visiting the cottage during the winter, there’s no reason to keep appliances plugged in and consuming phantom power. Go through the cottage and unplug anything that doesn’t need to be running over the winter. This will save you from unnecessarily high utility bills over the winter season. Some choose to power down the entire cottage for the season, but doing so runs the costly risk of sump pump failure. While you’re going through this step, turn down the heat in the cottage to ensure lower utility bills, while at the same time avoiding frost buildup in the cottage. If you have gas heating, turn it off before you leave.
Give your insurance company a call
Before you leave for the season, be sure to give your insurance company a call to ensure that you’ve done everything expected of you. Different providers will expect various things to be done before heading off for the winter, so it’s a good idea to make sure you haven’t missed anything. This way, you’ll be covered in the event that anything disastrous happens, giving you peace of mind throughout the winter months.
What do I do with my windows and doors?
Windows generally don’t need much pre-winter maintenance. You’ll want to make sure they are closed properly, and that’s about it. If you have basement window wells, make sure water and melting snow are directed away from them so they don’t fill up during the Spring melt. For your doors, check the seals around them. If they look worn then replace them.