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A cottage closing checklist: 5 things to do

Blog by Susan Brown | May 31st, 2017

For some families, the closing of the summer cottage is a tradition marked by routine and a gathering of family and friends. Some choose the Thanksgiving weekend to close up, but others wait until the snow starts to fly before saying goodbye. Whenever you choose to do it, having a checklist is always a good idea. Here are 5 things to do when closing up the cottage:

1. Turn Off and Unplug


If you turn off the water and drain your pipes, the disaster of bursting frozen pipes won’t be an issue for you. Shut off the water and then flush your toilets. Open all your taps to drain the pipes. Check that your sump-pump is working, too, if you have one. It’s also a good idea to unplug all of your appliances and turn off any electric baseboard heaters, as they can be fire hazards in winter.

2. Ready Your Roof

Get your roof ready for the coming onslaught of winter hazards. Check and clean out eavestroughs to allow for melting snow to drain properly in the spring. Trim overhanging branches, so that they don’t dump extra snow (and extra weight) on your roof. Check your chimney opening to ensure there is no debris or leaf buildup, and install a chimney cover to prevent animals from deciding that your chimney is a nice place to spend the winter. Don’t forget to close the damper in your fireplace flue as well.

3. Don’t Leave a Scent Behind

Cleaning up your kitchen should probably be number one on this list, as anyone who has left food in the refrigerator over a winter will tell you. Empty your fridge and wipe it down with a mild cleansing detergent and defrost your freezer as well. Unplug and place chopsticks, or a piece or cardboard, in both doors to allow for airflow over the winter months that will prevent any mold growth. Empty your pantry; even take the canned food, as it can freeze, burst, and attract animals to your home.

4. Shovel to Avoid Trouble

Secure the services of a local snow-removal company and hire them to visit your property at least once over the winter to remove snow and ice build-up from your roof. Even a small load can become dangerously heavy if there’s a period of rain followed by another deep freeze.

5. Picture Perfect

Finally, take photos of your cottage, the inside and out, to have on hand in case anything unfortunate happens over the winter and you need to make an insurance claim. Having photographic evidence of the before or after or the particular contents damaged or missing makes a claim much smoother to process. Don’t forget to include your dock area and outbuildings, too.

Doing these 5 things to prepare for winter will make for an easier spring start up. One last thing: Why not lay a fire in the hearth, logs, paper, and all—that way on your first visit in spring you can have a fire immediately while you wait for the cottage to warm up. Your spring self will thank your fall self.