Fall, our favourite time of year. The trees are turning colour and there’s a bite in the air. It’s also time to starting thinking about closing the cottage for another season. By taking the time now to properly prepare the cottage for winter, you may say yourself unnecessary grief in the spring. Here’s a quick list to get you started:
1. Check the roof. Make sure that any broken shingles are replaced and the ease troughs and downspouts are cleared of debris. Many water damaged claims are the result roof leaks.
2. Trim all branches that are overhanging the roof. The weight of the snow can cause these branches to break and fall onto the roof. Trim all dead branches on trees surrounding the cottage. A winter storm can blow these branches into the cottage causing damage and subsequent water to enter.
3. Make sure that any minor repairs, such as painting bare areas, stopping up holes and resealing cracks around openings, are done. This will help prevent the winter weather from finding its way into the cottage.
4. Shut off the water, drain the pipes and hot water tank, and leave taps open to allow them to “breathe”. Drain all the water from toilets and as an extra precaution add plumbing antifreeze.
5. Unplug all electrical appliances and electronic devices. The power can be disrupted during winter storms causing power surges. It’s surprising how many electrical appliances and electronic devices are damaged this way. Also many modern electric and electronic devices continue to draw a small amount of power even when turned off. This can add up over the winter. Consider shutting off the power completely.
6. Turn off baseboard electric heaters. They are a leading cause of cottage fires. Or if the cottage has central heating, turn it down or off.
7. Clean the fireplace and block off the flues. Chimneys from fireplaces or woodstoves should be professionally inspected to make sure that they are still in good working order and that there’s not a buildup of creosote.
8. Install a cover over the chimney opening. This will help to prevent birds, raccoons and other animals from getting in.
9. Remove any food from the kitchen. During the winter mice and other rodents can smell food from a long distance away and cause lots of damage by trying to get into it.
10. Defrost the refrigerator. Make sure to leave the door open to prevent mildew and mold to accumulate inside.
11. If you can, remove valuables, such as TVs and stereos, and take them home. If any valuable items will be left, make sure they are hidden from view so that would be thieves are not tempted. Make sure to cover windows.
12. Arrange for a friend, or hire a company, to do periodic inspections throughout the winter. They should check for anything else out of the ordinary so that they can be attended to immediately. The roof should be checked for too much snow. Even a foot of snow can be too much if it becomes wet.