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Follow a few simple tips to prevent nasty surprises when spring rolls around
If there’s on thing I hate — it’s when people try and tell me that summer is almost over while it’s still August. It feels like I just got out on the boat — and I know those of you fortunate enough to have a cottage feel the same way about your home away from home. So don’t try and tell me we’re almost done with the season.
That said, you know I believe in being prepared. It’s not too early to think about all the things you need to do to close up your cottage for the season. Do it right, and hopefully you won’t be in for any nasty surprises next year when it’s cottage season.
Here’s what should be on your list this year.
That’s a wrap on water
The last thing you want is a frozen and burst pipe over the winter. So on your last cottage weekend of the year, make sure you shut off the main water valve and drain the pipes. When you’re finished, turn on one of your taps to make sure the water has fully drained — then shut it off.
Some cottages may be winterized — others not. If yours isn’t, it may be lacking in insulation. Wrapping your pipes may be a good idea, especially if you plan to be there on the first day of spring. You never know when a frost may hit.
You don’t want any unwanted visitors making house calls over the winter. Mice, raccoons, and other creatures looking for a warm place to spend the winter don’t need much leeway to sneak in. Make sure your chimney’s got a chimney cap installed to keep bigger animals out. Smaller critters like mice don’t need a lot of space to break in. Go around your home and look for any gaps or cracks that could be an entry point. Fill gaps around any exhaust pipes with a low expansion foam — and then go around the foam with exterior caulking to make it weather tight.
Always do a roof check at the end of the season. Cottage country gets a lot of snow — and if your roof is no longer equipped to handle it, it needs to be addressed now. Too much snow can cause the roof to buckle. If your roof is starting to show signs of stress or damage, you still have some time before the first snow comes to get it taken care of.
Finally — once all the leaves have fallen, make sure your eavestroughs are clear of all debris. You need to keep water moving through the system so it doesn’t freeze. When the gutters are clogged it can cause water to back up toward the roof, sneak under the shingles and damage the roof structure. Make sure your gutters also expel water a couple of feet away from the cottage foundation. If it drops water too close, install a gutter extension.
Most cottages will likely have a septic system that needs to see regular service. Typically that will be every five to eight years, but it could be shorter than that due to usage. If you’re due for a checkup, have that scheduled before you close up shop for the winter.
Regular pumping of your septic system will flush out solids that aren’t broken down and will extend the lifespan of your system. Keep records of all septic system maintenance so you know when it’s time for another inspection.
Should you unplug?
Some cottage owners like to complete power down their electrical grid to save energy, and I understand that, but I hesitate to do a full shutdown of the grid. Why? Well, if you’ve got a sump pump, even with battery backup, it will eventually power down. And if you’ve got exterior lights or security systems, those won’t work with the power out either.
Instead, unplug your major appliances that won’t see use, so you don’t generate phantom power from those all throughout the long winter.
Like I said, we still have a lot of summer left. But if you start making your to-do list of items to take care of now, you’ll still be able to enjoy your time at the cottage, and make sure that when the season starts next year, you’ll be able to enjoy it then, too.
Mike has been making it right for homeowners for over 15 years on television. To learn more, visit makeitright.ca
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019