Opening Up The Cottage

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Opening Up The Cottage

With the weather warming up and the May 24 long weekend on the horizon it is time to start thinking about opening up the cottage! If keeping your long weekend relaxing is a priority, then it might be an idea to start the chores of opening the cottage a week or so before. 


Before you go to the Cottage 

               There is nothing worse than arriving at your place of relaxation and finding that you have forgotten an essential item. So the better prepared you are the more time you will have to kick back and relax. Detailed checklists are always a good idea for remembering essential items for the cottage! 

  • Make sure the electricity is turned on. Always be sure to call the utility companies and any other essential services you will need, before you head up to the cottage. Always better to do this before you leave your primary residence.
  • Be sure that all of your toys at the cottage, and the cottage itself is insured and that you know where these documents are. This includes, but is not limited to, the boat, any trailers, and obviously cottage insurance. Also, if you are pulling a trailer, make sure to test the lights and all connections before getting on the road. 
  • Another very important aspect is remembering any and all keys that you might need at the cottage. 
  • Put together a tool kit or bring a tool box. Tools will be needed this weekend so figure out which ones will be needed and pack accordingly. 
  • Cleaning supplies are also a good idea! You will more than likely want to do some cleaning. Even if it is something as minor as wiping down patio furniture you will need the right equipment. 
  • If you usually need batteries and filters make sure they are charged and packed! 
  • Food and additional clothing is also recommended 
  • Also why not check the weather forecast so that you know what to expect for the coming days 

When arriving to the Cottage 

               After the spring that we have suffered through and the dramatic rise in water there is no telling what could be waiting for you when you arrive at your property. The first thing you should do is look around for any visible damage outdoors, especially flood damage, and then check that everything is ok inside. 

  • Check for damage to powerlines, phone lines, the chimney, the deck, the dock, the boathouse, window screens, and water systems, just to name a few. Also if your cottage does not have a basement check the posts, pads, and beams under the cottage to make sure they haven’t sustained any damage throughout the winter. 
  • When you have completed surveying your property it is time to head inside and check the cupboards and counter tops for signs of mice or other animals that may have taken refuge in your cottage. Another important aspect to look for is water damage inside the home whether it be from flooding or snow melt or another source. 

Getting the cottage ready to live in 

               Before relaxing to your hearts content there are a few chores that will ensure everyone is safe and sound for the entire summer. 

  • Be sure to replace batteries in all carbon monoxide and smoke detectors 
  • Fire extinguishers should be certified and fully charged in case of an emergency 
  • Flashlights are essential during the night time and during blackouts so be sure to replace the batteries 
  • Eaves troughs are magnets for debris, make sure they are clean 
  • Look for large branches on the roof and remove them, also look for any limbs, or trees that may have become too close throughout the winter months 
  • Replace any and all filters that must be changed 

Turning on the taps 

               Some would argue that the most involved part of opening the cottage, for the season, is getting your water system going. If you system has a pump that draws directly from the lake, here are a few of the steps to get it going! 

  • Inspect all of the water lines and hoses for signs of damage 
  • Always replace the pumps filter, this is your water after all 
  • Prime the pump 
  • Open a cold water tap in your cottage only. Also be sure that the cold water valve to your hot water tank or tanks is closed 
  • Switch on your water pump at the panel box, wherever it is located 
  • Now open all of the available valves between the pump and your cottage 
  • Make sure to open all cold water taps to ensure there is no air in the system 
  • Finally, be sure to close all the taps and look for leaks and hissing 
  • If the pump continues to lose pressure and runs when the taps are closed, there is a leak in the system somewhere 

Turning on the hot water 

               Now that we have the water running, next is the Hot Water! Filling up the hot water tank is essential before you turn the tank on for the season. It is a really simple process however there are a few steps that you should follow to make sure you do it properly. 

  • Make sure the hot water tank or tanks are shut off and that all of the taps are closed throughout 
  • Connect a hose to the drainage valve of the tank and run it to the outdoors. Open this tap 
  • Open a single hot water tap 
  • Now close the drainage valve 
  • Use the cold water intake to fill up the tank 
  • Observe the hot water tap and once water is flowing through this means the tank is full 
  • You may now turn on the hot water tank, be sure to watch for leaks 

               Any time you leave the cottage empty it is a good idea to turn off the power to both the water pump and the hot water tank. If a pipe breaks, a connection lets go, or a welded spot fails for any reason, the pump will continue to run because it is endlessly trying to maintain pressure to the system. When the problem is inside the cabin you will return to a really big mess. 

Septic system and Outhouse 

  • Consider having the septic tank pumped or the outhouse cleaned out before you start the new season 
  • It may cost a few extra dollars however it will be money well spent if it means avoiding a smelly nasty mess in the middle of the season 


               It seems as though we have covered all of the bases involved in opening up the cottage. Again with the amount of rain and flooding that has occurred throughout Ontario this spring always be sure to document what you find and don’t hesitate to contact your insurance broker. 

               Also, make sure to have fun with friends and family because that is what the cottage is ultimately about! We at HRC hope that you have found this blog informative and hope that you have a safe time opening your cottage and enjoying it the season! 

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