It's Closing Time...

Helpful Tips on Shutting Down The Cottage!

Close your eyes for a moment and imagine that warmer days are near, the May long weekend is quickly approaching and you’ve been dreaming of getting back to the cottage all winter long. You can’t wait to get up north and get the summer started!  

Oh, but wait! It just occurred to you that you might have left the cottage in disarray last Thanksgiving weekend! You needed to get back to the city for a meeting or you were just too busy to shut it down properly and you thought to yourself, what could happen? It’ll be fine, right? You thought that you could come back in a couple of weeks and close it up, properly.  Well those weeks have turned into a month and lucky for your old man winter hasn’t arrived in cottage country yet. So this year you caught break and you still have time to get up north, close it up and avoid a heap of problems come springtime.  

Closing up the cottage properly each fall is an important process, regardless if you have a neighbour checking on it or not. Preparing a checklist will protect you and your investment against nasty surprises come May. Make it a family activity by dividing and conquering the tasks.   

Here is a list of some of the things you should do before heading south for the winter:

  • Defrost the refrigerator and unplug it. Leave the door open, prop it open with a stool or piece of firewood to ensure it doesn’t close. To neutralize funky odors keep an open box of baking soda inside.
  • Take home all food and that includes canned goods and food packaged in cardboard or plastic. You don’t want any unwanted visitors over the winter months, rodents are called pests for a reason and they can be very resourceful.
  • Shut down the water and drain the pipes. One the water is shut off, flush the toilets, open taps and drain the water tank. Siphon off excess water from toilets into a bucket with a siphon pump. It has been recommended that installing RV antifreeze protect against the freezing of any remaining water.
  • Unplug all televisions, lamps, big & small appliances, clocks, etc. Conceal any big-ticket electronics such as the TV & stereo equipment.  Just before you lock up be sure to shut the power off at the main electrical box.
  • If it’s feasible, pack up all of your valuables at the cottage including electronics, personal items, alcohol and tools. If not, do your best to keep them concealed and out of sight. Another useful tip – record the serial numbers of anything of great value, jot them down and put them in a safe place away from the cottage.
  • Don’t just turn down the heat, turn it off. That means the furnace and/or baseboard heaters. If you have a furnace, check and clear your chimney or ventilation pipe of obstructions such as leaves, animals or nests. A blockage could cause serious risk of carbon monoxide gas poisoning when the furnace is turned back on. Be sure to book an appointment to have your furnace serviced when you arrive in the spring.
  • Sprinkle some mothballs throughout the cottage, these will discourage rodents from moving in over the winter months.
  • Lock it down! Close and lock all windows and sliding doors. Using a sturdy piece of wood along the bottom of the windows and sliding doors can help to avoid break-ins. Close your curtains and blinds for added protection.
  • Make sure all of your watercrafts & toys stored away under lock & key and away from the winter elements.
  • Last but not least, it is important to ask a local friend or neighbour to be a year-round contact and have a key to your place. Make sure they know your alarm codes as well. Your insurance companies may offer a discount if you have a local contact to watch over your property.


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