Preparing the Cottage or Cabin for Winter
Cooler nighttime temperatures, the changing colors of the trees and shrubs all indicate that the seasons are changing and summer will soon be gone. While fall brings with it so much beauty it also brings a number of tasks to get ready for the winter to follow.
We at Mid-America Inspection Services want to remind you of the tasks that need to be done to protect your cottage or cabin from harm during the winter:
- If you have a wood-burning fireplace, start with the chimney flues. Make sure that they're sealed for the winter to help keep out unwanted pests. Making certain that all the embers are actually out, clean out all the ashes. This will ease starting the first fire of the new season.
- Walk around the property looking for any potential openings in the fascia, soffit, doors, windows and frames and window wells or crawlspace vents all of which provide easier access for a myriad of small critters that might want shelter during the winter.
- While outside closely examine the roof covering for any damage or missing shingles and look carefully at all the flashings around the roofs protrusions such as chimneys and plumbing stacks. Caulking any damaged areas will provide temporary protection against leaks but damage flashings should always be replaced at the earliest opportunity to help reduce chances of water entering and causing damage.
- Check your manufacturers recommendations for storing any of your recreational equipment and tools such as lawnmowers and weed eaters. Many will recommend draining fuel from these items, but some may recommend a fuel additive to help keep the fuel from aging.
- Storing your yard furniture inside if it all practical can greatly reduce wear and the potential for damage. It's a great chance also to check out the condition of any wooden furniture to see if it might need repairs or having painted or sealed. If you have a propane gas barbecue grill, you may want to consider leaving the propane tank outside as a safety measure.
- Valuable items are probably best not left at your cabin or cottage. Those that are should be concealed if at all practical. Make sure your door locks are all functional. Check window latches for both security and weather tightness and have any that might be damaged or inoperable replaced.
- If there's a local neighborhood watch you should probably notify them of when the cabin or cottage will be on occupied. It is probably also advisable to notify local law enforcement agency serving that area.
- If you're on a private water supply system, shut off the well pump turn off the power or gas to your water heater and drain down the water heater and plumbing system. Flush the toilets and add the proper type antifreeze to the bowls and tanks and all the traps at sinks and tubs and showers. This will flush out the water and retain the seal in the trap against sewer gases. If this is your first experience with winterizing your cabin or cottage, we strongly recommend you consider having a professional do it and watching what is required. It may be simple enough that in the future you want to do it yourself but if you discover it is more complicated, it's probably better to have it done each season for you.
- In colder climates you may be surprised to find that a good many beverages and household products will freeze and burst if left in the cabin. We can tell you from personal experience that beer and wine will freeze if it's cold enough and cleanup is seldom fun.
- A final step is having all the utilities that you don't wish to pave for over the off-season shut off. We, at MAIS, really recommend unplugging all the appliances, turning off all the lights and making sure the main circuit breaker is in the off position. This can help reduce the chance of an electrical fire when no one is around.
Following these few suggestions not only will give you peace of mind over the winter it will also make opening up the cabin or cottage come spring so much less stressful. Remember, we have the cabin to relax, not to stress over.
Mid America Inspection Service, MAIS, hopes these reminder will help you get ready for winter and we will see you in the spring.