How to Winterize Your Cottage

how to winterize, cottage care

Thanksgiving weekend has arrived! And here on Georgian Bay cottage owners aren’t just contemplating whether to brine or dry-rub the turkey; the pressure is officially on to start the process of winterizing the cottage. Whether you need to prepare your cottage for winter use or plan on closing up your summer home for the season, these tips will help guide you and hopefully make the task a little less daunting!

Avoid Water Damage

Burst pipes in the winter – what a nightmare! Between the deep freeze and the big thaw, Canadian home-owners are no stranger to the damage that can potentially accompany extreme winters. To prevent your pipes from freezing in your seasonal home, follow these steps to properly turn off your water and drain your lines:

  1. Close the main water valve
  2. Drain hot and cold water from the house by attaching a hose to sill cock or basement faucet; drain the water into a sump-pump pit or outside
  3. Open all faucets and flush all toilets (until tank is empty) in the cottage. If you have multiple levels, start with the top floor and work your way down
  4. Force any remaining water out by connecting an air compressor to an open sill cock or basement faucet and blow bursts of air into the system
  5. Open sink faucets to allow excess water to blow out
  6. If you have a dishwasher, turn it on and let it run to clear water left in the drain lines. Some dishwashers have a plastic valve housing that should be unscrewed afterwards to drain remaining water.
  7. If you have a washing machine, run both hot and cold cycles to flush out the lines
  8. Open the shut-off valve beneath each toilet to allow compressed air to blow water out, and then close again.
  9. For extra protection, poor anti-freeze into all drains and a small amount into each toilet tank.

Additionally, you will also want to consider the spring thaw and assess where the run off will head. This way you can make corrections and ensure proper drainage ahead of time.

Septic Pump

Certain septic tanks require winterization; especially in this area where the Canadian Shield can prevent us from burying septic pipes far enough beneath the ground. If you’re concerned, you should consult an expert; a plumbing contractor or cottage maintenance specialist can show you how to winterize your system.

Prepare for the Snow

The past two winters have gone above and beyond record snow-fall in the area which makes this point a biggie. You can start with small preventative measures; making sure your eaves troughs are clean, ensure that drainage is functioning properly and cut back any dead trees that may pose a threat. If you won’t be visiting much during snow season, take care to keep an eye on snow fall in the area or hire a snow removal specialist to ensure your roof and deck are properly maintained while you’re away. If you have a metal roof, be sure to clear any items that are within range of falling snow – the weight of compact snow and ice will likely destroy what’s in it’s path.

Heating and Electrical

To avoid drawing power unnecessarily, unplug all your appliances and turn off your baseboard heaters. If you have a furnace, shut it down or if you choose to keep it running, make sure you have a clean filter and reduce the temperature while you’re away.

Dock Removal

Unless you have a permanent dock installed (which is built to combat ice build-up) you will have to prepare your dock for the big freeze. Pipe docks will need to be removed, lift docks should be hinged up, while floating docks can be left in the water if properly secured and located (or re-located) to a sheltered bay or channel. For more about docking solutions that better suit your needs, contact A&A Services.

Critter Control

The temperature is dropping, which means rodents are preparing for the great home invasion. Unless you don’t mind sharing your space, you’ll want to repair potential entry points and remove or properly store your food to avoid attracting unwanted visitors during the cold months.

The winterization process will vary from cottage to cottage and these tips may not apply to all, so it is important to do your research and be diligent with your planning. For new owners, you may want to reference the notes of the previous owner (if available) as a guide for your particular property, or seek out one of the many experienced maintenance companies in the area. Happy Thanksgiving !

For more tips and information on cottages for sale in the Georgian Bay and Muskoka area, please see our website or call 705-756-7629.