Summer days are coming to an end, and if you haven’t taken measures to winterize your cottage, it’s almost time to close it up and say goodbye until next spring. Check these 10 tasks off your list as you prepare to leave your home-away-from-home for the winter months:
Inspect your septic tank. If your cottage has a septic system, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s service recommendations and timelines. If your system is due for an inspection, call in a professional to make sure it’s functioning properly before you close up to avoid any surprises in the spring.
Keep the sump pump pumping. If your cottage has a sump pump, make sure it stays in good working order all winter long, or you could experience flooding when the snow starts to melt.
Drain your pipes. Turn off your water supply and drain your pipes and all water containers to prevent them from freezing (and possibly bursting).
Clean your gutters. Clogged gutters can cause water to back up under your shingles, leading to a leaky roof. Once all of the leaves have fallen off the nearby trees, clean out your gutters so rain and melting snow can flow free.
Inspect your roof. Snow buildup over the winter can cause roofs to leak or even cave in, so replace broken or missing shingles before the winter weather sets in.
Keep pesky pests outdoors. Check for any openings small animals may be able to squeeze through to make their way into your cottage. If you have a chimney, use a chimney cap or cover to stop unwanted visitors from getting in.
Unplug major appliances. While it might not be a good idea to turn off your entire power supply (this could cause your sump pump, exterior lighting, and alarm system to stop working), unplugging larger appliances or turning off the power to these appliances can help prevent electrical fires and other issues.
Turn the heating down (or off). If your cottage has a furnace, consider setting the thermostat to around 10°C to prevent frost build-up, or turn it off entirely to save energy — but only if you’ve properly prepared your pipes to prevent freezing. If you opt for the latter, be sure to turn the gas off, too. If you use space heaters, turn off their power supply on your electrical panel.
Get rid of fire hazards. Pack up and remove loose paper products (like books and newspapers), old rags, chemicals, and other items that could easily catch or spread fire.
Clean out the fridge and cupboards. Food can attract insects and animals. When you’re ready to call it a season, pack up all food (even dry and canned goods) and take it home with you.
COTTAGE ELECTRICAL SAFETY:
Cottage Closing Tips
Getting your cottage’s electrical system ready for winter can help make spring opening safer and smoother. Here are some tips for closing your cottage safely:
Turn off individual breakers before flipping the main switch. This will help protect your major appliances (including your pump and hot water tank) when you power up in the spring.
If you have a fuse panel, unplug or switch off all appliances and electrical devices before you switch off the main power.
Store all extension cords in rodent-proof containers. Or, consider storing them at home where they won’t be subject to freezing temperatures, which can cause them to crack.
Walk around your property to see if trees are starting to grow too close to overhead powerlines. Remember that evergreen branches hang much lower in the winter due to snow loading. If you own the hydro poles on your property, hire a professional to trim the trees. If your utility owns the poles, let them know.
If you plan to leave your electricity on over the winter:
Switch off the breakers at your main panel for the circuits that supply power to your major appliances, including your pump and hot water heater. If you have a fuse panel, unplug these major appliances.
Switch off the breakers at your main panel that supply power to any space heaters. If you have a fuse panel, unplug all space heaters. Otherwise they may turn on during cold weather.
Don't rely on space heaters in the pump pit for water systems that can’t be completely drained. Unattended temporary space heaters are a fire hazard.
Consider new technology such as remote control systems. These allow you to check for flooding, freezing and fire as well as operate security lighting and control the thermostat. Some come with video systems that monitor for property security as well as snow loading.
Cottage Opening Tips
Follow these tips to make sure your electrical system operates safely when you open your cottage:
When you arrive
Look for damage to powerlines leading to your cottage. If you see downed or sagging lines, stay clear and contact your local utility immediately;
Do the trees appear to be too close to the powerlines (within one metre)? Tell your utility. If you own the hydro poles and powerlines on your property, contact a professional to trim the trees; and
Is there is a transformer on a pole (it looks like a small garbage can)? The powerline that feeds this transformer is high voltage. Trim any branches so they are at least four meters away from the powerline.
Before turning the power on at the main switch:
Check that all wiring that runs exterior equipment (such as water pumps) is intact. If it’s damaged, remove the associated fuse or turn off the circuit breaker and contact a Licensed Electrical Contractor;
Make sure all appliances or electrical devices are unplugged or switched off. Clear any debris from stove-top elements and baseboard heaters;
Fill the hot water tank;
Check all appliance and extension cords for signs of damage or wear. Watch out for cracking or rodent damage;
Check that the chimney for your electric furnace is clear of debris such as bird's nests and leaves; and
Ensure all branch circuits are in the "off" position in your electrical panel. After you turn on the main switch, turn them on one at a time to avoid surges that can damage your appliances. If you have a fuse box, plug in or switch on appliances and electrical devices one at a time.
Information provided by the following sources:
A step-by-step guide to closing your cottage for the winter
Written by Stephanie Fereiro | Published on: September 21, 2017 | Updated on: September 30, 2020
Cottage Safety - Electrical Safety Authority