Closing up the Cottage!

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Closing up the Cottage!

With snow in the forecast and the best part of the fall and summer finished most people will be thinking about closing up the cottage for the winter. Other than the most obvious of chores, there are countless other maintenance items that you should take care of before calling it a season. The following points are some of the things that should be addressed before closing the cottage! 

Wrap Pipes 

  • If the cottage is winterized there will be a reliable heat source and insulation as well as a vapour barrier to stop condensation from forming inside the walls. Due to it being winterized there is little to no worry about the pipes freeing. However, if any of the pipes inside the residence pass through a cold zone like a crawl space, garage, or along an uninsulated wall, make sure to wrap these pipes in foam. 
  • If the cottage is non-winterized then it is usually not insulated, therefore the pipes can definitely freeze. Wrapping your pipes with foam is a good precaution, especially if you intend on visiting the cottage over the winter or at the beginning of spring. 

Shut off the water 

  • Be sure to shut off the main water supply and drain all pipes before you close the cottage up for the season. 
  • After the water is shut off it is recommended to turn on one of the faucets to make sure that there is no water left in the pipes. If this is not done the water can freeze and cause a pipe to burst. 

Turn the heating off or down 

  • Cottages across the country have differing heat sources. Depending on the source of heat make sure it is turned off safely and properly. 
  • Always remember to turn the gas off before leaving. 
  • If your residence has a furnace you can shut it off completely so you’re not wasting energy 
  • Or you can set the furnace to the lowest possible temperature, usually around 10 degrees Celsius, to help minimize the buildup of frost inside the cottage over the winter 
  • If a water heater is present be sure to shut that off as well! 
  • If the cottage has space heaters turn off the power supply on the main breaker panel 


  • In a move that sounds like common sense unplug all major appliances. 
  • Some people shut off power to their residence completely at the fuse box, however, if your cottage has a sump pump it will eventually stop working as well which could leave to flooding 
  • Exterior lighting and security systems will also be disabled if the power is completely shut off, so the better idea might be the unplugging of individual appliances or the turning off of their power supply at the electrical panel. 

Get rid of fire hazards 

  • Pack up and remove loose paper products (like books and newspapers), old rags, chemicals, and other substances that could easily catch or spread fire. 

Septic tank checkup 

  • Most cottages tend to have a septic tank for sewage, these tanks are also usually on a service schedule. Typically, a septic tank should be serviced every five to eight years, and in some cases every three to five years, depending on usage. 
  • If your septic tank is due for a checkup get that done before the snow flies so that its ready for the next cottage season 

Check the exterior 

  • Be sure to walk around and inspect the exterior of your cottage or residence and check for any openings that animals can get in through. 
  • If there is a chimney be sure it has a chimney cap or cover on it again so animals cannot get in. 
  • Also check the roof. Some cottages are in areas that get a lot of show over the winter. Too much snow can cause a roof to buckle or cave in. 
  • Save yourself the hassle of a caved in roof by ensuring the roof is in good shape, otherwise there could be significant damage the next time you see it. 

Put outdoor furniture and equipment away 

  • Place all outdoor furniture in a place where it will be safe and secure for the duration of the winter, if you can store them indoors for added security and safety 
  • Also stow your boat, kayak, canoe, paddle boat or other watercraft properly as this will increase their longevity. 

Keep the sump pump going 

  • If there is a winter power outage the sump pump could stop working and that could lead to flooding in the basement of the cottage. 
  • Many sump pumps have a battery backup so be sure to check the battery! 
  • Some other models have a wireless alarm that will notify you if the pump stops working 
  • Another option is having a backup generator for your sump pump. The generator can be hooked up to your electrical panel, therefore if the power goes out the generator kicks in and keeps the sump pump running 

Clean the gutters 

  • A clogged gutter can cause water to back up underneath the shingles of your roof and damage the structure underneath. It could also lead to ice damming which would damage the roof as well. 
  • It is a good idea to wait for all the leaves to fall, before cleaning them, so that the gutters are completely clean for the winter 

          As always we at HRC insurance hope that this blog was informative and provided you with a few tips. Closing the cottage properly and efficiently is the key to making your property last a lifetime or longer! Do a thorough check before closing up to avoid unwanted surprises when you return. 

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