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  • Writer's pictureScott Clark

How to close your cottage for the winter

We've had an excellent summer in Ontario but, like all good things, the summer must come to an end. As we settle into the breathtaking scenery of fiery fall colours, some of us prepare to head back to the city and some of us are lucky enough to stay and enjoy the cooler weather up north. Either way, whether you're in a seasonal or four season home, preparing your cottage for the winter is an important step in maintaining your place of relaxation.

All cottages:

Whether you have a three or four season cottage the following steps apply to help keep your cottage newer or maintain is current condition for longer:

1. Drain outside water taps (also called hose bibs). You can do this yourself or hire a plumber to help. This task prevents the potential for ice buildup in the wall cavity during that can lead to serious pipe breakage and maybe even expensive water damage.

2. Clean out eaves troughs and roof valleys that are plugged with pine needles, leaves, or any natural debris. This is so that water can drain from the roof if it rains or snows, preventing a build up of debris that can act like a dam and restrict the flow of water. This build up can also lead to having water enter the cottage. As a general rule, you want to keep water away from your home in whatever way possible.

3. Prepare for snowplows using stakes or flags. Place markings showing or detailing where the snowplow cannot go to prevent damage to the property or plow. Using wooden steaks and spray paint is an excellent way to highlight these spots. This prevents snowplows from hitting septic tanks, rocks, and anything else that might be hidden under the snow that you don't want to be damaged. Highlight the areas that need to be plowed versus those that can't be touched.

Seasonal cottages:

For seasonal cottages, you want to pay special attention to tasks that prevent the freezing of water in pipes, dishwashers, washing machines and anything else that might hold water.

1. Drain all water pipes, including dishwashers, and washing machines to avoid breaking plastic parts due to freezing. Your plumber can help you with this and will blow air through your waterlines to make sure they are completely evacuated.

2. Use anti-freeze to prevent freezing. One of the best ways to ensure you prevent water damage and the expensive task of cleanup should your water freeze is to use anti-freeze in the p-traps of your bathtubs, showers, sinks and anything else that has a drain in your cottage. This prevents your drain pipes from cracking.

Year round cottages:

Perhaps you're not leaving your cottage for the winter but you want to make sure you are maintaining it for longevity. The following are some steps you can add to the 'to-do' list and the fall is as good a time as any.

1. Change furnace filter. Depending on when you've used your furnace last and depending on whether you have cats or dogs, clogged furnace filters can restrict air movement. Since you will likely have the windows and doors closed in the colder weather, and perhaps you will begin using a fireplace, fall is the perfect time to add this to the calendar.

2. Change water filters. Summer usually brings guests to the cottage, this means extensive use of the water filters if you’re drawing from the lake. These filters get clogged with more use so the fall is a great time to change these filters and get ready for the winter.

3. Turn on heat lines for water and sewage pipes. You're likely drawing water from the lake which means you may have heat lines to ensure the water and sewage pipes don't freeze. Not all systems require these heat lines, however, those systems that do should be turned on in advance of the colder weather. This can prevent breakage in the pipes, clogging, and overall plumbing issues.

4. Keep your heat at 10 degrees. If you plan to go away a long period of time, make sure to keep the ambient temperature to at least 10 degrees to avoid freezing pipes and overall keeping the house from contracting in the cold. As well, keep all interior doors open to the rest of the house (especially those homes with water fixtures or hidden water pipes in walls and ceilings). Heat will distribute more evenly with all of the doors open and prevent freezing.

5. Clean the chimney flue. Once every few years the chimney flue for wood burning fireplaces and wood stoves should be cleaned to avoid potential chimney fires. The need for this depends on the amount of wood burning and the types of wood being burned. Making fall the time of year for the task will ensure a fresh chimney for the impending winter fires.

Contact us today for more tips on closing your cottage.

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