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TIPS on Cottage Closing

As the summer comes to the end we see the days shorten – the sunset migrates to the south end of the lake and trees change to vibrant yellow and reds. This is the signal to remind us that the cottage will be closing soon – Thanksgiving weekend is a popular closing. A number of items need to be addressed.

A) Water

Water or more importantly “Frozen Water” is the biggest enemy. If the property is not heated through the winter all plumbing needs to be drained including line to the lake. A small air compressor connected to the water tanks discharge can be very handy for draining all lines. The compressor should have a regulator and pressure set below 40-50 PSI. Next consideration is sink traps and toilets. Most sink traps have a drain plug at the lowest point for draining – this is a messy job – in addition to water you will no doubt find hair in the bathroom trap or food particles in the kitchen trap. On a positive side your traps will be clear in the spring. If the trap does not have a drain, antifreeze will have to be added to the sink to force water out of the trap. The reservoir behind the toilet should be bailed out with a small plastic cup in addition some of the water in the bowl should also be bailed out. At his point antifreeze needs to be added to the toilet bowl – it is important to keep some liquid in the toilet bowl to ensure fumes from the septic system do not enter the cottage. Dish washers and clothes washers also need to be drained – a little more difficult if the water input pipes are higher than the lowest point of the equipment. (refer to the owner’s manual for information on specific models). When purchasing antifreeze look for RV / Marine Antifreeze (Not Automotive Antifreeze) The RV or as some call it “Pink Stu” is non-toxic and environmentally friendly – It can also be flushed into your septic system in the spring.

B) Electrical

All appliances should be turned o and unplugged if possible. This will eliminate electrical surges from damaging equipment i.e. TV’s. Fridge and freezer doors should be left partially open – this will eliminate any mildew forming through the winter. Furnaces and heaters should also be turned off and electrically disconnected via the breaker or fuse. Fuel source should also be turned off at the tank. Electrical heaters are generally controlled by a thermoset which can be either a 2 poll or 4 poll. A 2-pole thermostat can be turned down but never “OFF” so in the dead of the winter this heater will come on. To be on the safe side it is wise to shut off breaker or remove fuse at the panel.

C) Fireplaces

Check the damper – this should be closed to prevent any wild life from entering the cottage. If you do not have a cap on your Flue or Chimney it may be wise to cover the opening if it is reachable without the risk of falling off the roof.

D) Cottage Inspection

If you do not plan to come up through the winter to check the cottage see if there is a nearby neighbor who could provide periodic checks for you – It is a good practice to have the neighbor send you e-mail or text message so there is some record of the property being checked. There may also be a local Landscaping / Property maintenance contractor in the area who you contract to do regular inspections – the added benefit from the contractor – they can evaluate snow load on the roof and know when it requires shoveling. While the snow fall has been dimensioning over the years, snowmobilers always believe “This is the Year” If you leave any valuable equipment at the cottage (large screen TV’s Computers etc.) it never hurts to take a few pictures just before you close the door.

E) Check List

No two cottages are ever the same – it is a good idea to prepare a check list for your specific location. This may include out buildings or water craft. On your last day while you try to “remember” everything, on the drive home you inevitably remember some you forgot – the check list will ensure you have everything covered as you lock the door for the winter.

Have a safe winter – see you in the spring!

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